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Why you need a content strategy

There's an unimaginable amount of content on the Internet, and brands, publishers and users are contributing more each day. With all of this information available, competition for attention increases and it becomes more difficult to get your brand in front of a new audience. The fact of the matter is, you have to rely on other websites and user engagement to help promote your message. You simply can't do it alone.

Luckily, people love to share information and content online. The trick is getting them to share content that helps improve your brand's visibility. This is a difficult task, but a well-planned content and promotion strategy will help increase your potential for exposure online.

The Influencers, The Audience, The Content

As a starting point, define your target audience and determine which websites they frequent the most. This information is crucial to the success of your content strategy and should not be hastily compiled. Don't always assume that the obvious media sources are your best bet. It's possible that a well-written post from a blogger might drive more traffic and engagement than a mention in The New York Times. Here are a few key indicators to look for when determining a site's influence:

• High search engine rankings for relevant keywords - The sites that appear most frequently are likely to be influential in that industry. The caveat is that you have to conduct information-focused keyword searches, rather than using general industry keywords. Otherwise, you'll run into several competitor sites. For example, search for "music news" instead of "music".

• Number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers - This will give you an understanding of the potential reach that the site has.

• User engagement on the site and social media channels - Make sure that the audience is paying attention. Some good signs to look for are comments, likes, and retweets on content. By targeting an active audience, you have the potential to amplify the reach of your content significantly.
Once you've identified the key industry influencers, familiarize yourself with their website and users. Some important questions to consider when conducting your research include:

• What type of content is being produced and what is successful (i.e. articles, infographics, videos, etc.)?

• What information or content can you provide that would be of value to the site owner and their users?

Getting into the Game

After gaining an understanding of the type of content that people like to share in your industry, brainstorm topic ideas and unique ways to present your information. A few things to keep in mind:

• Visuals are interesting - Include images, charts and graphs, or video when possible.
• People don't like old news - If you're repurposing information, make sure you're providing a new perspective or an interesting angle.
• Breaking news is shareable - The content development and promotion process is much easier if you're privy to exclusive information. Tap into all available internal resources for noteworthy information around which to develop content.

Content is the basis of much of your online marketing activities. When developing your content, consider how it might affect the different channels:

• Leverage free tools such as the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to identify high-traffic keywords. Search engine traffic is highly qualified because the user discovers it on their own. Be sure to use descriptive keywords in your title and headlines to increase your visibility for relevant terms.
• If you expect users to share the content on social media sites, ensure that there's a clear call-to-action and that this process is as easy as possible. Strategically written embed codes can also help support your SEO goals by providing a link back to your site when the content is posted on another domain.

Having Friends in the Right Places

The relationship that you have with influential websites and bloggers is an invaluable asset and can have a significant impact on your online success. It is important that you invest time in developing and growing relationships with the influencers in your industry. If you don't already have these relationships, reach out to site owners and contributors to get the conversation started. The following can be used as a general guideline for outreach:

• Be genuine and polite - Remember that the goal is to develop real relationships. Each email should be unique and customized for the specific site. You've taken an interest in these sites because they've developed a strong community around great content. This point should be acknowledged somewhere in the email. The more specific about their site you can be, the less the message will seem like spam.

• Be transparent and specific - Why are you contacting them? Let them know that you're interested in contributing information or content to the site and explain what you're able to provide. It's also worth asking them what they're looking for in terms of content.

• Be concise - Assume that the person reading the email is busy. So get to the point as quickly as possible.

It's no secret that the Internet is an effective form of communicating information. But getting your message in front of prospects and customers may be challenging due to the sheer volume of content already available online. That's why it's important to develop a content strategy.

 A successful plan will help guide your content development and promotion to ensure that you are providing information that is of interest to your target audience and that it is accessible through multiple channels including popular industry websites, social media networks and search engines.
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Trung Ngo

Trung Ngo is a SEO Specialist at Red Door Interactive, an Internet Presence Management firm. He works with the Online Acquisition team to develop, implement and manage holistic internet marketing strategies that help clients succeed online. Connect with Trung on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trungvngo.

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