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#FTWs and #fails of Online Content Marketing

So, as you can tell from the title of this blog post, we’re going to be chatting about online content marketing. As you can also tell from the title of this blog post, we will be discussing the #FTWs and #fails of said online content marketing. If you’re scratching your head because you don’t know what a hashtag (#) is, you need more help than I can give you in this post. But if you just need a little clarification on what #FTW and #fail have to do with online content marketing, here are some quick definitions:

#FTW: This stands for “For The Win,” and is basically used to describe something that is totally awesome. For example, “Wow, my content marketing campaign is really taking off! My company/client/brand is starting to see incredible results from this campaign. Online content marketing #FTW !!”

#fail: This means exactly what the actual word fail means. As in, someone failed. Something was a failure. Pretty explanatory, but for whatever reason it’s a popular one with the social media-savvy young folk these days. For example, “Man, oh man, I really wish I would’ve listened to so-and-so and implemented a content marketing campaign. Now I’m way behind my competitors. Not using content marketing was a #fail.”

Now that we’re on the same page, both figuratively and literally, it’s time to move on to what this post is actually about – the #FTWs and #fails of online content marketing. In layman’s terms, what this really means is the do’s and don’ts of content marketing – but that sounded kind of boring.

There’s an incredible amount of information floating around on the great big World Wide Web about online content marketing, but following these basic guidelines of what to do (#FTW) and what not to do (#fail) is a good place to get started. So get out your notebook and pen and start taking notes! Or just bookmark this page because, let’s be serious, no one knows how to actually take notes anymore. Onward!

Online content marketing #FTW: doing your research

This is a two-fold tip: do your research on your audience, and do your research on the topic of your content. Researching your audience is important because you want to know exactly who you’re targeting with your content, what they’re looking for, and what they’ll respond to best. Just to give an example, if your hypothetical audience was chock-full of cat lovers, and all of your content was about how superior dogs are to cats (disclaimer: this is a biased example, I am a dog person), your audience isn’t going to respond positively.

Additionally, researching your topic is important because your audience is depending on you for reliable information. If someone can tell that you don’t actually know what you’re talking about, your credibility goes way down. You’d also be responsible for an ill-informed audience, and you don’t want them to point back to your blog when someone tells them their information is bogus.

Online content marketing #fail: limiting your content to just text

It’s important to keep in mind that the word “content” in content marketing doesn’t just mean text-filled blog posts. Images in particular are highly engaging across all social media platforms, and other content elements – such as videos and infographics – are important for not only SEO, but also to keep things visually interesting. Us humans are visual creatures, and the explosion in popularity of image-based social media outlets such as Instagram and Pinterest is a testament to that. The Internet is absolutely and positively flooded with content, and one of the best ways to grab the attention of someone browsing through content is with an interesting visual.

#FTW: writing conversationally

Writing conversationally (read: writing in the way that you speak) is something that helps with SEO purposes, and allows you to form a relationship with the audience (awww). Your writing should sound natural, while still remaining professional and adhering to the voice of your brand. This can be a tricky balance to pull off, but I have faith in you. One common tip for making sure you’re writing conversationally is to read your writing out loud. This may garner strange looks from coworkers, but anything for the sake of online content marketing, am I right?

#fail: plopping in SEO keywords…just because they’re SEO keywords

Long gone are the days where companies could stick in SEO keywords in their content wherever they pleased, simply in hopes to rank higher on search engines. As the previous point suggested, search engines are increasingly recognizing conversational, natural writing – which would not include writing with awkwardly placed keywords or phrases. Throwing keywords into content with eyes closed and high hopes used to be effective at best and annoying at worst, when search engine algorithms were less sophisticated. Nowadays, it’s just plain silly. Of course, seamlessly working in SEO keywords while still writing conversationally would be ideal, but alas, is one of the more challenging aspects of online content marketing.

#FTW: promoting on social media

What’s the point of creating all your great content if you don’t share it with the online world? Answer: there’s not much of a point. That was a rhetorical question. Sure, having your SEO-friendly and conversationally-written content living on your site is great for ranking purposes, but the real value lies in sharing that content via social media. This will drive up traffic to your site, which is always a good thing.

#fail: cutting and pasting content

From a moral standpoint, this goes without saying. Obviously, it’s frowned upon to take someone’s writing and say it’s your own. From a Google standpoint, this just isn’t a good idea. Google recognizing that you’re copy cat-ing, and it won’t be very happy with you. The Google beast prefers to be fed original content, so that’s always the way to go.

#FTW: proofreading before you publish

A surefire way to lower the credibility of your brand is content littered with typoes an errorrs (see what I did there?). It always helps to get a second set of eyes on your writing, to catch any mistakes you accidentally looked over. It’s pretty simply – just be sure to proofreed.

#fail: forgetting your audience

In virtually every type of writing, the golden rule is to remember your audience. This is related to #FTW number one, doing your research on your audience, but it’s so important that it’s included twice. It’s also for those of you who skipped the other pointers because you thought maybe the best tip would be at the end. (Shame on you! They’re all equally important!) So, don’t forget to not forget your audience (and don’t forget I told you not to forget). Know your audience, and provide value to them through your content. Ask yourself what your audience wants to know, and answer that question with your content – while still keeping it relevant to your brand.

And now our brief journey into the world of online content marketing is over, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. There’s plenty of information out there for those of you who crave more, but hopefully these tips pointed you in the right direction. Now go use the tools you’ve learned, and happy content marketing!