Is your brand a publisher? If your answer is a confused "Huh?" you're already way behind.
Publishing has risen in prominence as a powerful marketing tool, and it will only become more essential as time goes on. But you don't have to take my word for it -- just look at the trends.
Today, 60 percent of people feel more positively toward a company after reading its custom content, and social media platforms are innovating new ways of easing and encouraging shareability. LinkedIn, for instance, is revamping to make content publishing central to its user experience.
And this is just the beginning, because the benefits of producing content are real and measurable.
Why your brand should publish
So what's the big deal with publishing content? First of all, custom content allows your brand to expand its reach and spend more time with its audience. People are always on the lookout for valuable content, so consider it an opportunity to provide something useful while simultaneously communicating what your brand is all about.
Yes, I said "valuable." Consumers simply won't share overly promotional messages. A study by The New York Times found that 94 percent of social sharers only distribute content their audience will find useful, and nearly 70 percent said they share content to communicate their personality and values.
Then it's a matter of increasing SEO. More than half of marketers say content is their leading SEO tool. And they're not just stabbing in the dark -- it's a smart strategy. Content marketing leaders experience up to eight times as much traffic as brands that publish less frequently.
Finally, custom content scores social media shares, which deepens your brand engagement. In other words, if you write about high-quality topics that dovetail with both your brand and the things your audience is searching for, you'll not only get more search traffic, but you'll also encourage your fans to spread the love.
Companies that have perfected the publishing game are seeing results. Red Bull, for example, has garnered 5.6 million YouTube followers. It didn't get there by producing self-serving content about energy drinks. Instead, Red Bull gives its audience precisely what it wants -- access into the world of extreme action sports.
Then there's BarkBox, which has grown to include several outlets that bring in more than 10 million unique viewers every month. Its Dog's Best Day series has garnered more than 60 million views and scored big-name advertisers, including Subaru and American Express.
3 ways to be an effective publisher
Incorporating custom content into your marketing plan might sound overwhelming, but you've got to start somewhere. These three tips should help:
Start a blog
This is the most basic content marketing method and should be your first step. A blog allows you to produce SEO-effective content while testing what gets the best results.
As you publish, look at which articles get the most visits and shares. Your goal should be growth over time, so don't expect instant results -- this is not a quick return strategy. If you're not experiencing growth, adjust your strategy but don't drop your content efforts all together.
Brands that blog reap a lot of rewards over brands that don't: They get 67 percent more leads and 97 percent more inbound links. It's all a matter of providing your customers with useful (again, not promotional) posts that they'll want to share with friends and followers.
Forget about one-offs. You need to produce content in mass, on a regular basis. Although 70 percent of marketers fail to post consistently, it's an essential factor when it comes to building and maintaining viewers.
It's all about achieving consistency without becoming overwhelmed. Make a schedule that works for you, and stick to it.
Look for outside contributors
One way to both maintain consistency and provide content that is relevant to your audience is to seek outside contributors. Companies that blog more than 11 times per month receive four times as many leads as those that blog only a handful of times, so outside help can be a huge assist when it comes to achieving consistency.
The bottom line is that creating a solid content strategy gets people aligned with your brand, drives inbound web traffic, and promotes shares and deeper engagement.
Think of it this way -- you can become the destination for content you'd normally pay to advertise in. Instead of paying to advertise in ELLE Magazine, you draw people in by becoming a source of trusted, valuable information. You become ELLE, in a sense.
So get out there and turn your brand into a publishing powerhouse. It's how you go from being a mere brand to being an important influencer.