Think about the stories you love. The ones you snuck under your covers after lights out and read with a flashlight. The ones you listened to on repeat. The ones you bailed on your friends for. There's a reason these stories stand out from the rest, and it's because they engaged you. Maybe they included a character you admired or showed you something about yourself you didn't know before.
Digital media is just the same. Competition for your audience's attention is fierce. If you want to stand out and earn audience loyalty, you have to find a way to make your content more engaging to them personally.
Luckily, trying new things with your content marketing is infinitely easier than writing a bunch of different novels. There are lots of small tweaks and tests you can try to improve your content quality. Here are five ideas you can start using today.
1. Get personal: Share your expertise
People can find facts just about anywhere, but they can only get your expertise from you. Create an authentic, personal connection with your audience through your unique experiences.
That doesn't mean you have to publish would-be diary entries on your company blog. But it does mean that your audience members will relate to content that shares your experiences and expert insights in a way that they won't when you only state facts with no story or emotional connection.
In fact, according to my team's most recent research in "The State of Digital Media 2018," publication editors want to see content that shares expertise and opinions. It makes content unique and compelling, differentiating it in the eyes of the reader. In fact, that personal insight is one of the biggest reasons editors accept guest content.
2. Get moving: Expand your publishing options
To engage readers with content, you have to find them wherever they hang out online. Whether it's their Facebook news feed or the trade publication they check at work, locate your audience so you can speak directly to them.
Make a list of the publications your audience is reading, and learn everything you can about them. What kind of word count do they favor? What topics get the most engagement? What types of content do they publish?
Don't just spam multiple outlets with the same content. More than half of editors say one of the biggest problems with content is that it doesn't fit their readership. Craft each piece according to each publication to better engage that audience.
3. Get talking: Link to continue the conversation
You can't fit everything there is to say about a topic into one article. What's more, you wouldn't want to. It's important to engage your audience with meaningful nuggets of experience and information and then leave them wanting more from your brand.
Still, you shouldn't just leave them hanging. Instead, give your readers chances to continue learning within the piece itself by linking to relevant, high-value content that provides extra information.
Just be careful when choosing your links. Editors and audiences want content that's packed with original, expert-level insights, but they're highly wary of promotional content, so make sure every link to any other content of yours serves your audience.
4. Get testing: Experiment with media
Audiences love video, and so do publication editors. Sixty-seven percent of editors my team surveyed plan to publish video content in 2018. It's time to stop ignoring multimedia content and start learning how to incorporate it into your strategy.
You don't have to become Scorsese to do video. There are plenty of tools out there to help you. Plus, audiences aren't necessarily looking for super high-quality video every single time. As long as your video tells an authentic story, captivates viewers, and isn't junk, then you're probably cleared to give it a try.
Don't be afraid to look beyond video, either. What could you do with audio to reach your audience? Could you create an infographic to share your expertise? Test out other formats to understand your specific audience's preferences.
5. Get sharing: Don't forget content distribution
It doesn't matter how great your content is if no one sees it. And while seeing your content doesn't necessarily equate to engagement, it is the first step, and you've got to do everything you can to get your work in front of the right people.
So, as you craft each piece of content, consider your distribution plan. Put together a publishing schedule or editorial calendar to add consistency to your strategy and keep your audience from waiting too long between chances to connect with you.
Whether the first piece of content that really moved you was a book in your English class or a birthday card from your mom, remember why you loved it and what made you engage with it. Then put these five tactics to use to create content your audience loves and is excited to engage with, too.