content

All, Audience Research, Blog, Community, Content Creation, Content Tips, Website Tips, Writing & Editing

How to Make the Most of Your Content (Without Reinventing the Wheel)


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Keeping up with your business and personal wellbeing is particularly overwhelming at the moment. It’s a constant challenge to try and be productive, stay connected to colleagues, clients and customers, and come up with fresh content ideas. Today, we’re here to help lighten the load by making that last to-do item – content creation – much easier.

Chances are you already have great content on your website, social media pages, video or podcast channels. Content that you spent hours crafting and promoting with tweets, LinkedIn posts and Instagram stories.

While producing fresh content is an effective marketing strategy, it doesn’t always mean churning out new material.

In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to get the most life out of existing content: reusing and repurposing content you already have, and how to prolong the shelf-life of upcoming material.

Let’s start by reassessing your current approach to producing content. Because now, more than ever, is a good time to check in with yourself and your community to see how we can best help each other through the coronavirus crisis, together.

#1 Reassess

Take a step back for a moment. Have you been following the same content strategy for the past few months, year, 18 months? Are your messages still relevant to your audience? Do they align with your business?

Don’t panic. Reassessing your content strategy is as easy as reading your analytics platforms and listening to your community – things you’ve likely been doing already.

First, check in with your audience. Who are they?

  • Gender
  • Age group
  • Financial demographic
  • Where do they hang out online?
  • What media do they consume?
  • When are they most active online?

It’s easy to find out this information. Many social media platforms have built-in analytics you can access for free (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for instance). Then try actively listening to your audience’s conversations on Twitter and Reddit to bring timely topics and challenges to light.

Another tactic is to ask your community members directly about their current situation either in conversation or through customer surveys.

Next, determine when and where your audience is most active so you can expand your reach on that platform. This will help to focus your time, energy and effort, and better keep your target audience in mind.

#2 Repurpose

Now that you’ve identified who and how you can help, let’s take a look at your back content catalogue and ways we can repurpose it to catch your readers’ attention.

Think of it as clearing out your wardrobe. Some clothes fit well, suit your style and are in great condition – keep those! Others might need a refresh before throwing them on: restitch a seam, mix and match with a newer item. And some simply don’t work anymore: your style has changed, they don’t fit right and they’re out of fashion.

Before you go off creating new content (or shopping for new clothes), see what’s already there. The creativity comes in figuring out how to repurpose it.

Fresh content, less time and resources.

Just remember to ask yourself, will this new, reimagined content resonate with my audience on their most active platform? There’s no point in repurposing something that won’t catch anyone’s attention!

Here are a few ideas for making ‘old’ content new:

  • Reshare evergreen content (articles, videos, podcasts that your readers will always care about)
  • Reminisce on past events with ‘on this day’ posts
  • Expand on a successful social post and turn it into a blog
  • Repurpose a popular blog as a YouTube video or podcast episode
  • Create a LinkedIn slideshow using existing video content

#3 Refresh

As the weight of coming up with new content ideas begins to lift, let’s finally turn our attention to refreshing your content calendar and long-term strategy.

Start with your social calendar – particularly the plans you had in place for this spring/summer. Do they still resonate with your community’s interests and challenges? Will the content you intended to share be helpful during the coronavirus crisis?

Hubspot‘s social media calendar is a great tool for refreshing your strategy.

The same goes for your blog, YouTube channel, podcast, livestreams, or any other content you produce: what will help your audience? This might not be your product or service – that’s okay. Instead think about how you can be there for your customers right now.

Save yourself time and energy while you reorganise your content plans. Be intentional with your messages and choice of platform. Did your research show your community isn’t hanging out or engaging on LinkedIn or Facebook? Redirect your attention to where they are active and where you’re more likely to gain traction.

Three tips to remember

In summary, here are three simple things to bear in mind when you’re looking to get the most life out of your content.

  1. Reassess your audience. Find out where they hang out, what they enjoy and when they’re active online.
  2. Flip through content you’ve successfully produced in the past, and see how you can repurpose it, give it new life and help your audience in a new way.
  3. Refresh your short-term approach and let it guide your broader strategy. Make sure your content fits your core values and aligns with what your audience values – that will give it longevity and make it ideal for repurposing in the future.

This blog is the third in a mini-series about getting through the coronavirus crisis. The first post is all about checking in with yourself and your community, and the second helps you get creative and stay connected through this period!

All, Community, Content Creation, Content Tips, Website Tips

Get Creative and Stay Connected During Lockdown


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As we find new ways to connect with our community and adjust to this ‘new normal’, it’s difficult to know how we should be offering to help.

Like always, we want to provide solutions and make it easier for people to reach their goals. Only today these problems and goals look a lot different.

Now, more than ever, our job is to add value to people’s lives. Whether you’re a tour guide or clothing brand, here’s when thinking outside the box comes in handy: how can you (not just your product/service) help people through these unforeseen challenges?

How to stay connected

The first step to staying close to your community right now is by being present and acknowledging what’s going on around us. Listen to and connect with your community on a personal level and pivot your approach to meet them wherever they’re at.

This means throwing any agenda out the window. Just as our lives aren’t the same right now, neither are our jobs – don’t think about how you can sell your service, focus on how you can best be there for your customers.

By being a guiding light through the haze, you can build that all-important connection with your audience and keep them engaged with your brand. When daily life slowly returns to normal, they will remember you for your funny video, engaging podcast or cute animation that brightened their day, rather than conducting business as usual.

Be a friend, and recognise your customers’ shifting needs, offering solutions inside and outside of your trade. They’ll thank you for being there as their needs and wants change over time.

Thinking outside the box

Businesses of all sizes and types are adapting their offerings to cater to our current way of life. Whatever you did before social distancing, you can now do from the comfort of your home.

Being able to connect with the outside world through Instagram Live workouts, National Theatre livestreams or Zoom-guided mindfulness sessions certainly help with feeling less isolated.

This is an opportunity to get creative with how you use content to help people through these stressful and solitary times.

You can try:

  • Testing out new media formats: a podcast or vlog instead of an article
  • Using Loom, Zoom or IGTV for a video tutorial
  • Getting arty with an animation, gif, infographic or colourful doodle
  • Hosting an interactive experience on Instagram or Facebook Live

User-generated content is another great way to build connection:

  • Collect photos of your products from customers to share on your Instagram story
  • Strike up a conversation on Twitter
  • Write a blog post about your audience’s stories

Where to find inspiration

Across the internet, you’ll find people who are helping in lots of different ways. To get you started, here are some inspiring content campaigns we’ve spotted over the last few weeks.

We (Celeste and Rachael) also chatted about our favourite content offerings in our first-ever IGTV, filmed together remotely from our living rooms!

Stripe & Stare has opened its inbox to stories about frontline working heroes, offering a free box of their sustainable knickers each week to the randomly chosen winner. The team also plans to start a blog on the stories they hear to spread thanks to those working hard to keep us safe and healthy.

Katie at Look Up London is doing virtual tours three times a week. With her expert Blue Badge Tour Guide knowledge and Google street view technology, it’s almost as good as the real thing!

Freelancing Females have turned their Instagram feed into a handbook of advice for working from home. They’re lifting up other creators by sharing their visuals, and helping us get through this — one WFH day at a time.

HistFest took their Spring 2020 festival online last week, with talks from leading historians streaming free on YouTube, covering topics such as 19th century shipwrecks, the victims of Jack the Ripper, and the history of celebrity.

Photographer, film maker and all-around visual story-teller Xanthe Berkeley runs online film making courses. To help people get creative and inspired in this period, she’s been offering free film making tips and tricks on her blog!

View this post on Instagram

I created this stop motion for @thewhitecompany a few years ago, but it’s still one of my favourites, so I’ve revamped it with some text and music. At the time, I remember being so pleased that I managed to shoot this without messing up the recipe and having to start again 🙈 . Thanks to everyone who’s been trying out my free “Creating Stop Motions On Your Phone” lesson on my blog… One of the best ways to get started with Stop Motion is to use your phone. Would you like to have a go? Head over to my blog to get started… Also, coming soon is a mini online course with project ideas, more tips & tricks and lots of creative fun to have with Stop Motion, while staying at home. . #xanthefilms #handmadefilmmaking #StayHomeMakeSomething #stopmotion #inspiremyinstagram #documentyourdays #makefilmscourse #hurrayforplay #vllo

A post shared by ☆ Xanthe – Photography & Films (@xantheb) on

This blog is the second in a mini-series about getting through the coronavirus crisis. The first post is all about checking in with yourself and your community, and next we’ll look at how to get the most life out of your content!

advanced, All, Content Creation, Content Tips, Idea Generation

My Favorite Way for Coming Up With New Ideas (and How to Generate Your Own)


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Consider these three facts:

      • The best pizzeria in the world doesn’t use menus that’s how easy they make it for you to decide – Marinara or Margherita.
      • Growing lavender is a gradual process that takes some nurturing if you want it to last for years.
      • Shakespeare is the master of capturing and holding an audience’s attention.

So: pizza, plants and playwrights – what does that have to do with content marketing?

Quite a lot actually.

These three P’s are valuable ways of getting your customers to say yes, writing evergreen content and keeping your readers engaged.

While they may not seem related on the surface, they’re excellent ways of understanding the ins and outs of content marketing.

How does unrelated Thing 1 explain Thing 2?

When you take something you already know (Thing 1) and apply it to something you don’t yet understand (Thing 2), you begin connecting the dots and drawing conclusions based on their similarities.

Two ideas don’t have to be twins to be related.

Recently, and quite excitedly, I learned there’s a name for this method of connecting the dots called exaptation.

According to Trello, exaptation is “the ability to reach beyond a specific field of expertise and concoct new uses for an older thing.”

Originally used by biologists to explain the evolution of a trait over time, exaptation can also benefit content creators during the ideation phase.

All you need to do is look beyond your field of expertise and apply a completely separate concept, skill or practice to the idea you’re trying to bring to life.

Examples of exaptation

Now that you know how exaptation works, let’s come up with some real-life examples for your own site.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned pizza’s power to persuade its customers and lavender’s link to a successful content strategy. These are just two occasions I used exaptation on my own blog, but here are some other ideas to help you craft unique, compelling articles:

      • Use a TV character or movie scene to explain how your customer will benefit from using your product
      • Pick a cuisine or dish to describe the “ingredients” of your service
      • Apply patterns or relationships found in nature to your client’s needs and subsequent solution

As you can guess, there are endless cross-disciplinary connections you can make; just remember to choose ones that will resonate with your readers. Forming a bond between your message and a 1980s sitcom, for instance, isn’t going to click with a Gen Z audience.

Will readers get the correlation you’re trying to make?

So before tying two things together, always ask: who are you speaking to and will they make the connection?

Also, as a rule of thumb, if a connection feels forced, don’t use it.

To prevent forcing a connection, try and think of different ways the two ideas can be joined. Or explore new links and choose the one that works best with your topic.

Mastering exaptation

How do you get better at linking two things that aren’t visibly related?

By first collecting as many forms of inspiration as possible.

Whether that’s a quote you came across in a novel, an observation you made while walking the dog or a painter whose work you admire, put them somewhere you can easily go back to.

For me, that means writing things down in my notebook or phone, taking photos of captions and images and bookmarking online articles and art I find interesting.

Because in my experience, the more intriguing ideas I collect, the easier it is to see correlations between two separate spheres.

Soon enough your content treasure chest will be overflowing with ideas and people will be calling you the Master Exapter!

All, Community, Content Creation

March of the Penguins: 3 Rituals to Enrich Your Client Relationships


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Emperor penguins are extraordinary animals.

For starters, they return to the same stretch of frozen water every winter to mate and give life to the next generation of penguins.

In between finding a mate and nudging their chick onto the ice for the first time, they endure brutal weather elements (up to -60°C / -76°F), lose up to a quarter of their body weight when laying an egg and take turns traveling tens of miles back to sea to eat, restore their energy and provide food for their hatchlings.

Every March and April, emperor penguins make their way to Atka Bay, Antarctica.

This blew me away, knowing hardly anything about emperor penguins and their synchronized breeding habits before watching David Attenborough’s new show, Dynasties.

If Attenborough’s voice isn’t reason enough to watch the show, the concept certainly is: each episode follows a different animals’ fight for survival, beginning with the chimpanzee and ending with the tiger.

Episode two is dedicated to the emperor penguin.

While watching the penguins embark on their journey to Atka Bay in Antarctica and nine months later, seeing the new generation of penguins set out for the sea, three rituals stood out to me as a way to build bonds with your readers and grow meaningful relationships with your clients.

Here’s how the march of the penguins can benefit your business:

1. Find (and know) your match

Once the penguins make it to the nesting grounds, males begin courting the females and eventually pair off as mates for the rest of the season.

They create a bond that lasts for nine months, sometimes longer. A bond that gives birth to, protects and feeds a newborn penguin.

two emperor penguins
Emperor penguins bond with one mate each winter.

Think of their strong partnership as a symbol for the relationships you would like to build online.

You won’t be raising a chick with your readers, but you do wish to have a great rapport with them.

The first step to establishing that connection is to come up with a clear picture of your ideal reader. Ask yourself:

  • What do they do for a living?
  • What are they passionate about?
  • What do they desire? What do they fear?

Once you have this person in mind (giving them a name helps!), you can more easily come up with content solutions that they are looking for. Because you know what stage of life they’re in, what they’re pain points are and how your service can help them overcome these obstacles.

If you are just starting your business and not sure what your ideal reader looks like, make one up. Come up with someone who would realistically be interested in your product and adapt him or her as your business takes shape.

Knowing exactly who you are speaking to makes creating content and forming a solid bond with your readers easier.

2. Show them you care

Antarctic seabirds not only bond as mates, but as friends and fellow parents.

When the female penguins return to the sea after laying their eggs, for instance, the males become sole protectors of the egg. That means keeping the egg warm under its belly and protecting it from blistering winds for weeks on end.

hatchling
A hatchling keeping warm under its parent’s brood pouch.

To shield each other and their eggs from severe elements, male penguins huddle together, trading places inside and outside the group to survive.

As soon as the females come back with food, the chicks are carefully placed under mum’s belly so the males are free to fish.

Just as penguins meet every task with care and attentiveness so too should content creators.

Plan out how you can help your reader (from ritual #1) warm up to your business. Think about how you can gradually gain their trust.

Some ways to do this are by:

  • Sharing your story and why your organization exists
  • Describing what your product/service does and how it benefits them
  • Bringing customer feedback to life with testimonials
  • Providing useful, practical advice in an entertaining and memorable way
  • Speaking from the heart

Nurturing this bond with your readers is essential. And oftentimes, being generous with your content’s value leads to more worthwhile relationships.

3. Give them something they can use

Before the chicks can leave their parents’ close watch, they must learn how to walk.

A forceful nudge usually does the trick, sending the chick onto the ice for the first time. It might feel like tough love, but as mum knows best, it’s time for the penguin to make their own way to the sea.

emperor penguins
A hatchling getting the hang of this ice thing.

While you won’t be teaching your readers to walk (unless your target audience is toddlers of course), your content should aim to offer them something useful.

This could be in the form of a video tutorial, a benefit-driven listicle, webinar or e-book. There are countless ways to provide value to your prospects and customers, so understanding how your audience consumes and responds to different types of content will help define your content strategy.

If your readers are mostly millennials, perhaps a Facebook live will resonate more with your audience than blog posts.

The great thing about content is that you can always put it out there, gauge interest and do more of what works.

To get your creativity going, here are three ideas that keep your reader top of mind.

Like the nine-month journey of raising a new emperor penguin, quality content takes time and commitment. When you’re able to look in front of and behind you and see the community you created through meaningful content, you’ll be sliding belly-down on ice towards success.

All, Content Creation, Content Tips, Writing & Editing

How to Immerse Readers in Your Content


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When we arrived at the Music Box Village, people had already taken their seats.

The film hadn’t started yet but it was plain to see that the show had already begun. We were the actors and actresses, lovers and mistresses, dancers and revellers, dressed as Voodoo maidens and Rio Casanovas.

Coinciding with Valentine’s Day, the night was a tribute to the tragic love story of Eurydice and Orfeu. We were invited not only to celebrate their romance but to take part in their fabled fairy-tale.

View from above at the Music Box Village.

Besides showing up in costume, the evening didn’t come with any instructions. So while the movie screens were still blank, my friend and I made our way up to an improvised treehouse.

There were lots of huts and hidden alcoves around the open-air venue and if you looked close enough, you could see instruments attached to doorframes, windows, walls and ledges. Little did we know, they would be ours to play at the end of the night.

So how did the Music Box Village turn a group of festive spectators into performing musicians? By following the three golden rules for immersing readers in your content:

1. Invite Them In

Although my friend or I had never been to this venue, the invitation told us exactly where the party was located.

The only other explicit details were to dress up. Which helped because once we saw people in costume, we knew we were in the right place.

The Casa Samba group wore elaborate costumes.

Try and do the same for your online community and give your content a way to stand out.

If people can’t find your tech video review, instructional webinar or latest podcast, then how can they watch or listen to it, much less immerse themselves in it?

That’s why the most important thing to consider when publishing your piece of content is, how will my readers and prospects find it?

Come up with a plan for sharing your content, whether that’s on social media, your own site, someone else’s blog or via a newsletter. And think about how you can use a combination of these, such as sending out an e-newsletter and posting it to Instagram.

It’s also a good idea to give your readers just a taste of the content like you are letting them in on a secret. That way they have to click through to your website or landing page to experience the piece in full.

Then they are more likely to explore other pieces of content and potentially sign up for one of your services (the ultimate goal!).

2. Show Don’t Tell

From the moment we entered the experimental village, our senses were filled with colorful costumes, Brazilian music, samba dancers, Capoeira performers and more.

This perfectly set the scene so when the movie, Black Orpheus, began you felt like you were being transported to Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro.

Carnaval with a Voodoo twist.

Although the Music Box Village could play to our senses a bit more easily, you should always consider different ways to engage your audience.

Catch their attention with compelling imagery and headlines. If it’s a travel narrative or lifestyle feature, describe what you saw, how you felt, who you talked to as clearly as you can.

The more you can bring your content to life (include photos, embed a video, link to your products or services) the better you can capture and hold their attention.

3. Hand Over The Reins

After the Casa Samba performers finished their group dance, the Brazilian beat drummers opened up the circle. It was our turn to join in.

They pointed us to the dance floor with their drumsticks and soon enough people were making their own music all around the village.

That’s the same response you should be going for with your content. Keep them entertained throughout the piece and seamlessly guide them to the next step.

Whether that is asking them to leave a comment, share it on their social media, sign up to your newsletter or purchase one of your services, make sure your viewers and readers know what to do next.

Remember, signposting your content with relevant links and tagging posts by category will not only help your audience learn more about your business and area of expertise, but it will also improve your company’s search ranking.

As you can see, being able to immerse readers in your content is a powerful achievement. One that the Music Box Village has so masterfully demonstrated.

If you’d like help creating this type of experience for your readers, I would love to hear from you at celeste@cbacontent.com or through this contact form.

All, Community, Content Creation, Content Tips, Marketing

Real Talk: What’s Content (and Why Should You Care About It)?


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You’ve heard this term, “content”, being thrown around a lot lately.

“If you’re not producing content, then do you even exist?” they say.

The word even makes up half of my business’s name.

But really, what is it? And why does it matter to your business?

Since there is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions, let’s use something we’re all familiar with to talk about different content types and functions — weddings.

Just like there’s no one way to throw a wedding, there’s no one way to create and use content.

All the colors of content

Blog posts are probably the most common type of content that people discuss, but there are many other shades of content out there.

Consider going to a New Orleans wedding versus a Greek wedding — the first traditionally has a second line during the reception while the second usually includes smashing plates for good luck.

Likewise, different types of content can be seen across a variety of businesses. If you primarily manage a YouTube channel, for instance, you will produce mainly videos. Or, if you teach writers how to put together a novel, then you might have a webinar series that takes them through each step of writing a book.

Depending on what you specialize in will determine which type of content will resonate most with your audience.

This list will help get your creative juices flowing when deciding which way to educate, entertain or persuade your community:

  • Articles, including blog posts and guest posts
  • Videos, including live streaming
  • Infographics
  • Newsletters
  • Podcasts
  • E-books
  • Photos
  • Checklists
  • Case studies
  • Social media posts
  • E-courses or webinars
  • Promotions or sales offers
  • Whitepapers

quality content matters

Now that you have an idea of how wide the content spectrum is, let’s turn to the important role it plays on your website.

And while we’re discussing the benefits of creating content, it’s safe to assume that we’re talking about quality content and nothing less.

Because just as every wedding detail is carefully thought out, so too is engaging content.

Now, what kind of effect can good content have on your business?

The short answer: a powerful one.

The impact of good content can be more abstract, like building your authority in an industry, or more tangible, like direct sales.

In addition to helping you become a greater authority in the field, content has the ability to create a bond with your community, act as a sounding board for customer pain points, solve prospects’ problems and tell your audience how life will be better with your product or service.

More concretely, content can attract new prospects or subscribers, spark new relationships with strategic partners, cultivate feedback from customers and increase your ranking on search engines.

what will your ‘happily ever after’ look like?

As we’ve discovered, your business’s “happily ever after” will take on a life of its own.

Think about your company’s personality and the characteristics that define your target audience. Is your community more social and driven by visuals or more traditional and drawn to long-form articles?

Whatever it is that groups you and your audience together, try recreating that in content form. Don’t let the endless avenues put you off. Rather, embrace the possibilities, test it out and produce more of what sticks.

P.s. If you’d like help creating content for your company, email me here and we can put a plan into action.