1) Understand your audience
(Picture source: http://theculturevulture.co.uk/)
The generation of natural links and citations across the web. Building trust among visitors. Demonstrating thought leadership. Creating a positive brand image.
Those are just some of the benefits of content marketing. However, none of them are possible if you don't understand your audience.
Why would your audience feel compelled to share your piece on content? What trust signals do they look for when visiting websites like yours? What information are they looking for? Where are the gaps in their knowledge of your specific area? With so much competition around, why would they choose to read your content on a topic, and not someone else's?
You need to be able to answer those questions before you even start coming up with ideas for your content marketing campaign, otherwise you are seriously limiting your chances of creating content that your target audience are going to love and share.
2) Align content strategy with your social strategy
There are many aspects of content marketing that cross over with social media marketing, and in many cases it becomes hard to tell which is which.
A social media strategy that doesn't involve the sharing of content - whether unique or curated - would be, quite frankly, rubbish, while content marketing without social media would mean seriously limiting the promotion of the content you create. How are people going to share your great content if you don't give them the opportunity to do so? How are you going to stimulate discussion around the topics mentioned in your content if you're not placing it where people feel confident talking?
And don't forget that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all offer paid advertising platforms that allow you to target very specific - or broad - demographics, which is a great way of getting your content in front of your target audience.
What's more, it's much easier to convey a brand's key messages if those messages are consistent across each marketing channel.
So, when creating a content marketing strategy, it's really important to consider how social media can support your activity, and vice versa.
If you have come up with an idea that you consider shareable, useful and interesting among your target audience, the chances are it could have a lot of mileage. So get repurposing.
Written a whitepaper? Why not also break it up into bitesize blog posts? Or turn it into a SlideShare presentation? Or run additional Q&As with contributors to the content? Or carry out video vox pops or a poll/survey based on the issue at the heart of the whitepaper, and write up some new blog posts with the results?
Try and think of every possible angle around your idea, and every appropriate medium. Don't forget that different kinds of content can perform different functions, and appeal to people at different stages of the buying funnel (see the image below).
Also consider your audience's preferences when it comes to content consumption - some will prefer to read long-form content, others will only have time to digest infographics or visual pieces.