You've probably noticed that it's becoming rather difficult to make your content stand out from the digital noise. You know this because you're watching your engagement numbers and you know they've been a little funky lately.

If you're wondering what on earth is happening, here is your answer: people can only consume so much content at any given time. And there's simply too much out there these days. To give you an idea, every single minute:

  • 1.3m pieces of content are shared on Facebook
  • 350k new tweets are posted
  • 100 hrs of videos are uploaded to YouTube

With adult attention span shrinking every year (now between 3-8 seconds), most companies will lose the race to get consumers to see their content instead of someone else's.

Why Your Content Is Getting Lost

Major social networks have reached their saturation point and they're being more selective about what stories to surface.

Early this year, Facebook yet again altered its Newsfeed algorithms to only show content relevant to users. The move left many brands in the dark, literally, as their organic reach took a nose dive. But Facebook isn't the only platform changing. Similar issues are popping up on Twitter. The social network's real-time, show-everything approach is proving to be rather unsustainable as users share more and more stories. There are 6,000 new tweets every single second--thousands of tweets published in less time than it takes you to blink. Taking a page from Facebook, Twitter is considering implementing its own set of filters to prioritize relevance.

It's no surprise then that marketers have so little confidence in their content marketing tactics. While social media is used by over 90% of marketers, only 58% think they're effective at it.

What Are You Going to Do About It?

A recent Edelman study of 10,000 consumers across eight countries revealed that while more than 90% of those surveyed want companies to share branded stories, only 10% of those surveyed think brands are doing this well.

Blame it on the numbers or the networks, it doesn't matter. The reality is that we need to accept that we are a big part of the problem. It's time to revise our content strategy and connect with people on an emotional level. And that means telling the stories that people want to hear.

5 Steps to Make Your Content Stand Out

The question is how. How do you create better content, content that resonates with customers and improves their experience with your brand?

1. Identify your audience

The first thing you need to do is identify your audience. Think of your favorite magazines. Each publication has a specific audience, no matter now niche, and their articles target these people specifically. Your content should do the same.

How do you know who your audience members are? Start by thinking of the people that normally interact with your brand--your core customers. Then think of the people who consume your brand's content online. They might be one and the same. But sometimes, they're not. Your content should cater to both.

2. Recognize your audience needs and passion points

Once you know more about your audience, consider their needs, interests, and passion points. Use customer polls, surveys, or plain ask your communities regular open-ended questions. If you don't want to ask directly, leverage the social conversations around your company using technologies that will allow for both quantitative and qualitative analysis to help you find the answers you are searching for.

3. Marry content and context

Each platform has its own vernacular, style, and core users. The way you communicate with your community on Twitter will differ from the way you connect with them on LinkedIn or Facebook. Communities on Tumblr, for example, are really big on sharing GIF file formats, while other networks don't allow for this format. Knowing how to package your content for different social networks and communities is critical to the effectiveness of your content strategy.

4. Identify your top performing content and optimize in real-time

If you've been diligently tagging all messages in your social media management platform, pulling reports to see what content performs best will be a breeze. But more importantly, use this information on a regular basis to optimize and adjust your content strategy in real time. Drop what doesn't work and do more of what does.

5. Amplify your top performing content

If you have a media budget, use it to amplify your best performing content. Paid is expensive. We all know this. But so is content creation. It doesn't make sense not to help your content travel farther, especially if you know your audience loves it.

Great Storytelling Leads to Great Experiences

There's a positive correlation between sharing great brand stories and consumer intent. If you show customers that you're listening, that you care about their needs, that you want to provide positive brand experiences for them at every touchpoint, they'll be much more likely to trust you and do business with you. Every experience counts, so use your content strategy to deepen the relationship with your customers by making someone's day easier, better, brighter.

To learn more content marketing best practices and tips, feel free to explore this ebook featuring advice from content marketing thought-leaders like Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute, Jason Miller of LinkedIn, Michael Brenner of NewsCred, and more.