For some in the digital PR industry, infographics are an outdated technique, for others it is still a valid type of content and for outreach agencies, they have proven to be phenomenally successful to attract visitors and links. The reason for this is that an infographic combines data and story telling and makes information easily accessible for a wide audience.
Stories and data are the ingredients of creative link building and for every successful backlink campaign, you need to decide at some point how you want to tell your story, in other words: what type of content you want to create.
We can generally differentiate between text, visual, audio and interactive content and we can identify four different functions:
- Attraction (attract the right audience)
- Affinity (make the audience trust and like you)
- Action (make the audience take an action)
- Authority (demonstrate experience and establish yourself as an authority)
When you create content for digital PR and content marketing, it should fulfil all 4 functions and the chances of success increase remarkably if it triggers an emotional response.
Whilst infographics tick all of these boxes (and have for several years), we cannot ignore the fact that the world keeps on moving and consider new alternatives that involve virtual and augmented reality and the rise of audio content in the shape of podcasts.
These are the opportunities you have for content marketing in 2020
We all have heard of or even listened to a podcast in recent times. They are on a steep rise and can be considered the most popular type of content these days, statistical data confirms the popularity of podcasts. But is it the right type of content for your campaigns? Think about how you can transform your data story into an audio format. Maybe you can conduct expert interviews to tell the story, but also keep in mind that a podcast might not be the right format and it requires some audio editing skills to sound professional. Apart from that, podcasts are a frequent and regular format, not a one-off.
2. Checklists & Listicles
Content in the shape of a list has always worked and will continue to work because it makes data visually accessible by working like a road map and providing quick answers. In times where attention spans get shorter and readers become lazy and opposed to long pieces of text, a list becomes ever more attractive. Listicles, best ways and top X- headlines usually generate a good number of clicks. The best examples for this type of content are travel checklists such as the one by Eaglecreek.com or the below by Smartertravel.com:
Listicles are popular in any industry and for any topic, but also for this one, travel is the one that gets our attention as Lonelyplanet.com proves with the yearly “best in travel”:
The success behind this type of content can be found in the fact that the reader learns something new by reading or watching. “How to” also is a popular query that users ask search engines such a Google for if they seek advice when confronted with a complicated task. This type of content is often realized in a video tutorial. The first use case that comes to mind are DIY tasks, this example of B&Q proves that:
4. Video content
This leads us to the next type of content that has been increasing in popularity over the past decade: videos. The above is an example for a video tutorial, but you can also use this format for demonstrations of how a product works, customer testimonials or explainer videos with catchy animations. “Catchy” is the keyword here because in times where 15-second-videos on TikTok are on the rise and attention spans decreasing, your video needs to be ever more engaging, educational and entertaining to make it past the first few seconds.
5. Case studies
This is the type of content that allows you to show your expertise and the work you have previously done successfully. Think about how you want to explain what you have done and what you have achieved. Here at JBH we have run several campaigns in the past that we have analysed in our digital PR case studies.
6. Webinars, slides & presentations
Webinars have been around for quite some time but have seen a recent rise during the times of COVID-19 since in-person-conferences and meetups have been put on hold. Running a webinar allows you to prove your expertise and can in similar ways as how-to-content attract an audience that is looking for specific information or to expand their knowledge. A webinar is also a good opportunity for content syndication as you can create additional content such as a video recording, slide shows and presentations that will keep on attracting visitors until the topic becomes outdated. At JBH we have embedded this into our strategy as well, e.g. in the webinar about Digital PR during a pandemic.
7. Expert roundups and interviews
This type of content might come as part of your webinar: You can invite experts of your industry that present at your webinar, you can interview them or even organise a panel discussion. This can also be done offline, but it is always a good idea to record it to use the content you create in different ways and make it accessible for your audience at a later stage. Interviews with experts can be recorded in a video, be part of a podcast or published as text.
In the context of digital PR, the experts that are mostly referenced are journalists and we have spoken to some of them:
8. Authoritative blog posts
A good blog posts answers questions that your audience and potential customers have and provides additional insights into complex topics. Blogging is also a good opportunity to regularly show your expertise and become an authority in your field.
9. Standout opinion pieces
Opinion content originated in traditional journalism and you will still find this section in any newspaper online and offline. That is because it works, especially when it comes to controversial topics that people want to get different opinions on. It gives you the opportunity to communicate an informative message and kick-start a discussion. The risk though is to become offensive or to communicate an opinion in unsuitable ways. Better read this type of content twice before publishing it.
10. Original research pieces
Most content nowadays is modelled after other content that has been published online. Therefore, original research data can make you stand out. You could conduct a scientific research or run a survey for example. You also might have some interesting data within your business that you can share. Most infographics these days are based on data research.
11. Trending content
Following current trends and incorporating them into your content publication provides a good opportunity and shows your expertise within your industry. News content is the best example, but keep in mind that it has a short shelf-life.
12. Compelling images
Images can be a good way to convey a message in an emotional way and can break up long form content into more digestible chunks when working with decreasing attention spans. To increase your chances of the image being shared, you can add a quote. A good example for image content is the photo of the day published by National Geographic.
This type of content should never stand on its own, but it can be useful to visualize how a product works (an app for example) or in written how-to-content. They can make it easier to explain a concept and give the audience additional insights. If you use a screenshot for demonstrations, they work best if accompanied by a customer testimonial.
14. Memes, comics, illustrations
We all have seen this type of content multiple times and memes, also in private messages, do not seem to lose their popularity. They work because they trigger an emotional reaction which in most cases is related to fun and entertainment. As such, they are also memorable, and the chances are high that they will get shared.
This is a combination of the established infographic and the younger version of imagery in the shape of a gif. It works well because it makes an infographic more interactive and keeps the viewer engaged. Quicksprout has published a gifographic that explains how Google works.
16. Long-form content
This type of content is self-explanatory. It is a long piece of content that you can enhance with additional types of content such as imagery. How long this content really should be, depends on the topic and what you are trying to say. You should not write content just for the sake of it. If what you want to say can be said in 500 words, do not create long-form content.
17. Comprehensive reviews
If you are writing a review, you are probably doing so because you want to promote or sell this product on your website. In that case, it is important to keep the review as objective as possible. If there are any negatives to it, you should mention those as well. If you want your customers to trust you, you must be honest and if a product only has negatives or requires you to lie, maybe you should not promote it.
Reviews can now be enhanced with different types of mark-up that will appear in rich snippets in Google and with star ratings. Trustedreviews.com provides examples such as this review of a coffee machine:
This type of content can be compared to a scientific research paper. You generally need a lot of data and information that you present in a well-written way. Before you start creating a Whitepaper, you should be sure that it is the right type of content for your audience. They should be interested in reading long-form content with scientific character.
Some would argue that this type of content has been over-used in recent times and it seems to become a technique that is seen as spam. It is mostly used to get users to sign up for a newsletter. In return, they will receive the eBook.
Newsletters are mostly used in email marketing to keep an existing audience engaged. They are not suitable to attract new customers or links and therefore not used in digital PR.
This type of content is a well-established technique to get attention and to grow your audience quickly. Participants usually submit their email addresses after fulfilling a task or solving a puzzle to enter a prize draw. Based on the results, you can create additional content where you feature the winner picking up the prize or meeting a celebrity.
Surveys work in a similar way as contests: Users submit information and, in most cases,, they get something in return, vouchers for example. Depending on what the survey is about and what participants get out of it, it can generate different levels of traction. More important though is what you do with the survey results as those provide opportunity for further content creation.
23. Personality tests, quizzes, tools and widgets
Quizzes and tests draw on human curiosity, use gamification strategies and interactive engagement. They usually reach the audience on a personal and emotional level and the better the topic of your personality test, the more likely it will get shared. Childhood memories such as Disney characters always seem to work:
24. Social media posts
When we think of digital PR and backlinks, we often think of the website content and ignore other channels where our audience might find us. But the content you publish on your website can be syndicated on social media to reach a wider audience. What you should keep in mind is how you portray your brand and how you get the user to click through to your website.
There are different social media channels and the landscape keeps on changing. It is important to find the right channel for your product and your audience to then create content that resonates with them and is adequate for the channel. Video content for example is best placed on YouTube, whereas images are more suitable for Instagram or Pinterest, statements and opinions are for Twitter and short video sequences for TikTok.
What type of content to use?
After having seen so many opportunities it might seem to be an overwhelming decision to make. It can be useful to look at your data, your product, and your audience to find out what would work best in any given situation. The opportunities are endless and if you are looking for advice on your content marketing and digital PR strategy, please get in touch with us at JBH.
Post published on Thursday July 16, 2020