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Content marketing works extremely well to build your brand and business, but creating great content takes a lot of time (or money if you pay someone to create it for you). Therefore, you have to be strategic about the content you create, or you’ll waste precious time and money developing content that doesn’t help you reach your goals.

To help you evaluate your content ideas, I put together eight clues that you can analyze each time you consider creating a new piece of content. Each of these clues is described below. You can also download my free Content Evaluation Worksheet, so you can evaluate your content ideas against all eight clues — all in one place.

1. Content Description

The first thing you need to do when you consider creating a new piece of content is to describe it. Is it an image, video, text, or something else? Be specific and include details about the expected length, the time it will take you to create it, and the cost.

2. Audience

Next, you need to define the target audience for the piece of content. Which buyer persona is the content meant to communicate to, and where are those audience members in the marketing funnel and buying cycle? Is this the audience you should be communicating with now in order to reach your goals?

3. Purpose

Every piece of content has a purpose (beyond directly or indirectly making a sale). Does the content you want to create inspire your audience? Does it entertain or educate them? Or does it give people a sneak peek into your company by revealing something behind the scenes or reinforcing your brand personality? You need to know the purpose before you start creating.

4. Value

If a piece of content won’t add value to the target audience, don’t bother creating it. All content should be useful and meaningful or your audience will view it negatively. Guess what happens next? Those negative feelings are transferred to your brand. This could be a conscious or subconscious transfer, but either way, it’s a problem for your business.

5. Brand

Speaking of branding, you also need to think about how the piece of content you want to create represents your brand. Does it consistently represent your brand or could it confuse consumers who have specific expectations for your brand based on prior interactions with it? Remember, confusion is the number one brand killer, so stay true to your brand promise in every piece of content you create.

Confusion is the number one brand killer.Click To Tweet 6. Goal

What is the goal for the piece of content you want to create? Think about the answer to this question as part of your overall marketing strategy. Does the content help to move you forward to achieve your business goals? If it doesn’t move you in the right direction, don’t create it.

7. Repurposing

When you create a piece of content, you should always think about other ways that you can use it in the future. Can you tweak it and re-use it (i.e., repurpose it) in other places? For example, parts of an ebook could be repurposed as a webinar, blog post, infographic, and more. Your goal should be to get as much traction out of every piece of content as possible, so you’re not always starting from scratch.

8. Promotion

How will the content be promoted? If you’re going to put time and effort into creating a piece of content, you should also put time and effort into promoting it. Promotion can include social media, email, advertising, and more. Create a promotion plan before you create your content.

Your Next Steps

Download the Content Evaluation Worksheet and use it as you consider creating new pieces of content. Not only will it help you decide if you should create the content, but it will also help you develop a plan for repurposing and promoting the content.

In other words, you won’t just be writing a piece of content, you’ll be creating an important, strategic tool that can be used again and again to help you reach your goals. Once you decide you’re going to create a piece of content, add it to your content calendar and start creating! A few minutes of evaluation and planning can go a very long way!

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You take a long time creating your content, and you want people to see it – particularly your target audience. One of the best ways to spread your content online is to get social media shares, but how do you get people to share your content on social media so larger audiences find it?

First, you have to be realistic with your expectations. According to Steve Rayson, Director at BuzzSumo, most online content isn’t shared as much as you might think. His team analyzed content from the top 100 business-to-business websites and discovered that only 4% of 114,000 blog posts (that’s only 4,500 posts) were shared more than 3,000 times. Here are a few more statistics from that research which might surprise you:

  • Posts published on the top five marketing and technology sites (including Moz, Social Media Examiner, TechCrunch, and other big sites) received a median of 803 shares.
  • Posts published on the 95 most popular marketing and technology sites (such as Hubspot, Buffer, Search Engine Land, and more) received a median of 106 shares.
  • Posts published on Hubspot’s B2B customer sites (127,000 articles were analyzed) received a median of just 22 shares.
  • One million random articles included in the evaluation received a median of only 8 shares.

In other words, don’t start publishing blog posts and expect to receive hundreds or thousands of shares. In fact, based on this research, getting dozens of shares is unlikely until you build a sizable audience of engaged followers.

With that said, you can take some simple steps to increase the number of social media shares your content receives. Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Use the Right Sharing Tool

Before you do anything else, you need to make sure the tool you’re using on your website and blog to enable easy social media sharing of your content is accurately tracking shares. This is the tool that enables a visitor to click on a social media icon and instantly share your content to their corresponding social media profile. See the top of this article where the social media sharing icons are as an example. If the tool you’re using is not tracking social media shares accurately, you won’t truly know what’s happening with your content!

Keep in mind, no social media sharing tool will tally every share that your content gets. However, some are better at tracking shares than others. If you have a budget, I recommend Social Warfare. I started using it on my sites recently, and I’m very happy with the results.

If you’re looking for a free tool and you use WordPress, AddThis is a good choice. There are other free WordPress plugins available, but some of them add a lot of extra code to your site while others can slow your site down. It’s a good idea to test free plugins to see what works best for your site.

2. Use Tweetable Pull Quotes

You should always make your content as shareable as possible. That means not only should you have social media sharing buttons on every blog post, but you should also offer sharing ideas like tweetable pull quotes. Here’s an example:

The majority of blog posts only receive a median of 8 social media shares.Click To Tweet

I created that tweetable pull quote using the Social Warfare plugin I recommended in #1, but there are other tools that work as well. For example, I’ve used the Click to Tweet WordPress plugin to create tweetable pull quotes without any problems, and the best part is it’s free.

3. Share Your Content Multiple Times

The life of a social media post is very short. According to a study conducted by Moz, the half-life of a tweet (the time within which it receives half of all of its retweets) is just 18 minutes. A study by Wiselytics gave tweets a slightly longer half-life of 24 minutes while Facebook post half-lives are longer at 90 minutes.

Similar half-lives are the norm for other social media platforms as well. That means the post you send today is unlikely to be seen tomorrow. In fact, it’s unlikely to be seen an hour or two from now!

With that in mind, it’s important that you share your own content more than once, but that doesn’t mean spamming people by repeatedly publishing links to your posts! To make the process of reviving your old content easy, use a tool like Buffer or Agorapulse to re-queue your old content. That way, it will automatically be shared to your chosen social networks at the frequency you choose.

4. Share with People Mentioned in Your Content

If you write a piece of content that mentions other people or links to their content, send them an email to let them know about it. They just might read your content and share it with their own social media audiences!

Just make sure to contact people only when your mention of them within your content is substantive. In other words, a fleeting link doesn’t warrant outreach. Consider the value of the mention before you hype it to the person mentioned.

5. Write a Round-up Post Featuring Influencers

I get contacted frequently by bloggers who are writing posts about marketing, branding, content, social media, and more. They’re writing posts about a specific marketing-related subject and looking for experts to provide their insights. They reach out to a number of experts with the hope that some will respond, so they can publish a round-up blog post filled with all of the useful insights provided. They also link to every person’s website and social media profiles within the post, and they email everyone who participated to let them know when the post is published.

Once the post is live, it’s highly likely that some or all of the experts who provided their insights will share it on their social media profiles and pages. That means the author gets a lot of great quality links to their website as well as new traffic!

You can do this on your blog, too. All you have to do is identify online influencers in your niche who have the eyes and ears of your target audience. Next, come up with an idea for a round-up post where sharing their insights would be useful. With your idea in mind, reach out to ask for their participation and insights.

Once you’ve collected the experts’ submissions, write and publish the post, and then, let the influencers know when it has been published. You can also tag all of the participants in your social media updates about the blog post. Yes, this can be a time-consuming process, but it can also work really well!

To find influencers in your niche, you can conduct blog and Twitter searches, or you can invest in some tools to make things faster and easier. NinjaOutreach and BuzzSumo are both excellent for identifying people who write about and share content about topics similar to yours and who your ideal audience might already follow. These are perfect people to invite to participate in your round-up post. If you have a bigger budget, PitchBox offers some great features you might want to check out.

Your Next Steps to Boost Social Media Shares

Of course, these tricks to get more social media shares aren’t the only things you should be doing to extend the reach of your content. You should also be sending an email newsletter on a weekly basis at a minimum, and you should be spreading your content as far and wide across the internet as you can.

Remember, the power of content marketing and social media marketing comes from the domino effect that your content and conversations have over time. Sharing is just one of the social signals that you should watch as an indicator of the success of your efforts.

As always, if you need help with your social media or content, I’m here to help. Just contact me to get started!

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