#ContentWritingChat Recap: 2017 Content Creation Tips and Tricks

#ContentWritingChat Recap: 2017 Content Creation Tips and Tricks

This week on #ContentWritingChat, we decided to switch things up a bit! As you may know by now, we typically have a guest host join us every week. Well, this Tuesday we decided to have a community chat and just let our participants be the main focus. After all, we do love each and every person who joins us for an hour of fun every Tuesday!
This community chat went so well that we’re actually going to incorporate them into our #ContentWritingChat schedule every month. We’re even going to give you you the opportunity to give input on upcoming chat topics, so stay tuned!
But for now, let’s dive into the recap of this week’s chat where we talked all about content creation tips and trick for 2017!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: 2017 Content Creation Tips and Tricks

In Tuesday’s chat, we invited everyone to join us and talk content creation. Being that so many members of our #ContentWritingChat community are writers, it’s no surprise that they all had some great advice to share. Let’s get to it!

Q1: When it comes to content, what’s the first step you should always take before you begin creating?

Before you dive head first into writing content, there are a few things you should do beforehand! What might those things be? Here’s what a few of our participants believe are the essential first steps:

Sarah is spot-on with her answer! She knows that you have to determine what your audience needs to see before you can start with content creation. After all, if you aren’t sure what your audience needs, how can you create content that will resonate?

As you spend time getting to know your audience, you also want to determine how they like to receive content. Do they prefer a specific content format or a certain platform? These are all important things to consider before you create.

We like the way Brittany put it! Date your audience to get to know them before taking them along on your content journey.

Having a message behind your content is important as well. You want your audience to read your content and be able to walk away with something of value. Make sure your content always serves a purpose.

Zala also agrees that your content needs to serve a purpose. Everything you publish online should add value to your audience in some way.

As Megan mentioned, research is a very important step to content creation. Before you can begin writing, you may need to conduct research to learn more yourself or so that you have sources to back up your ideas.

Julia’s advice is to begin by discovering trends and topics and perform the best on the platform you’re writing for. You can then analyze the audience and SEO.

You can’t forget to set goals either! When you have clear goals in mind, you’re able to create the content that will help you achieve what you want.

Q2: What types of content do you create to build and maintain an authoritative, ROI online presence?

There are all kinds of content types out there in the online world! For that reason, it can be difficult to choose what’s right for you. Here’s some advice for you if you want to create authoritative content that helps you get results:

Les knows that it’s important to consider the content types your audience prefers. If your audience loves to read, they’ll probably enjoy your long-form blog posts. If they’re more visual, they’ll be happy to watch your YouTube videos and live broadcasts. Always keep their preferences in mind!

Elizabeth recommends trying multiple mediums for your content. This is a great opportunity to see what performs best for you and what your audience likes the most. Whichever content type you choose, it’s crucial that you share a relevant, helpful message.

Julia urges you not to overlook your core content types. Make sure you aren’t neglecting your blog and the various landing pages you have on your site.

Infographics and blog posts are two ways you can certainly shine online!

Q3: What platforms do you publish on? (Your own site, guest platforms, etc.)

It’s important to consider where you’re publishing your online content if you want to effectively reach your audience. We asked our chat participants to share where they dedicate most of their time and here’s what they had to say:

Julia knows it’s important to focus on your own website, as that’s online real estate you actually own. You don’t have to worry about a site or a social media platform shutting down. Secondly, she encourages guest blogging. You can use platforms like LinkedIn Pulse and Medium for this.
Her other piece of advice is not to be everywhere online. She says it’ll dilute your focus and you’ll also wind up spreading yourself too thin. Focus on the core platforms that you enjoy and that work for you.

Gaby publishes content on her personal website, other industry sites, and on social media. In the past, she’s even contributed to academic sites. It’s all about finding what works for you and just going for it!

Brittany has been mostly focused on her own website, but she’s planning to branch out into guest blogging. It’s a great way to get your content in front of a wider, relevant audience.

Cheval mostly publishes on his own site as well, but he does like to repurpose articles on LinkedIn. If your audience is there, this could be a worthwhile strategy for you as well.

Sarah said the ThinkSEM team is focused on publishing content on their blog, in their email newsletters, and then spreading the word via Twitter.

Jeff enjoys finding valuable content via Medium. With a variety of articles and writers, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.

Q4: How do you get inspired to create content ideas for your blog and social media?

It’s not always easy to find inspiration for new content ideas, which can often leave us frustrated! If you’re looking for ways to get your creative juices flowing again, check out these tips:

Make sure you’re actually listening to your audience. Sometimes, they’ll you exactly what they want to see from you! Watch for the comments and questions they leave on your blog posts, in response to email newsletters, and also on social media.

You can also draw inspiration from your competitors. Check out what they’re doing and what they’re missing out on. You may have the opportunity to do something better than they did or fill a need they’ve forgotten about.

It also helps to look at support tickets, if this is a part of your business. If your audience is often asking the same questions, you can write content that answers them.

Javier suggests thinking about the challenges your clients are facing or may face in the future. You can create content that provides them with potential solutions to what they’re dealing with.

Anna checks Quora to find out what people are frequently asking there. She also turns to books and articles to gain inspiration.

Beth finds that she’s often inspired by other blogs. Whenever an idea strikes, she records it in a document where she’ll easily find it later.

Allow Google to be your best friend! Lex recommends doing a little keyword and user intent research to figure out what your audience is searching for. Once you know, you’re able to create exactly the content they want.

On the flip side, sometimes it helps to just get away from the computer for a bit. Get outside and go for a walk. Danielle said the fresh air can do wonders for your imagination.

Q5: What does your process for content creation look like? Any tips you can share?

We all have a different process when it comes to content creation! Here’s how some of our chat participants get started with creating:

Brittany’s process will have you on the fast-track to content success! Research, strategize, write, edit, publish, promote, repurpose, and then start all over again.

Once you have an idea, a great way to get started is with an outline and conducting research. These are essential steps that can help make the writing process much easier.

After she’s gotten an idea, Elizabeth begins outlining her content by jotting down the main points and ideas she wants to cover. This will help her be much more organized when it comes time to write.

For the Netvantage team, they start with keyword research.

Andrew relies on Post-it Notes to help him with the content creation process. He also recommends stepping away from your content for a bit and then revisiting it. This is a great way to make any final edits. He also said it’s helpful to ask for feedback from others.

Mallorie says you shouldn’t be afraid to just write. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, so the best thing you can do is just start writing and let the words flow. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mess because you can always edit it later.

Q6: How do you ensure the content you create will help you achieve the goals you set for your brand?

If the content you write isn’t helping you achieve your end goal, what’s the point? Here’s how you can ensure everything you publish is having an impact:

Julia said you need to set and know your goal goals before you start creating. This will help direct you in the right path so you can actually see the results you were hoping for.

Not only that, but you should also know how those goals fit into your overall brand strategy.

After your content is published, you need to track your results to see how you’re doing. For Lalaina, she typically tracks blog views and clicks on her call to action.

As Gaby mentioned, it’s important to periodically reflect on your goals and the results you’re getting. If you need to, don’t be afraid to realign. It’s necessary if things aren’t going your way!

Zala agrees! You need to test, measure, track, and change accordingly. If you aren’t seeing results, make tweaks and test again to see how things change.

Remember: everything you publish should track back to your larger goals. You need to publish content that serves a purpose and is working hard for you.

Q7: What do you predict for the future of content in 2017 and beyond?

The world of online content is always changing, so it’s important that we look to the future for what’s right around the corner. Here are some predictions our chat participants have made about what’s to come:

Cheval thinks a majority of online content will be created in video format. It’s one content type that has been on the rise in recent years and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Julia also sees that video is on the rise, but she’s also predicting there will be even more tools for creating content. She said people will have to be both creative and consistent if they want to stand out in this busy online world.

Shorter videos and user-generated content are definitely performing well, especially on social media.

Kavita also sees live video growing, with more brands starting to invest in this format.

And we can’t forget about augmented reality!

Compelling storytelling and visuals are always a winning combination!

We can expect an increase in visual content, podcasts, and automation tools.

Jasmine thinks brands will be using new ways to encourage reader engagement. After all, it’s so important that we stay in touch with our audience and build relationships with them.

Lex is hoping for a greater integration of SEO, as well as better use of metrics and analytics.

Q8: Which tools do you rely on to create amazing online content for your brand?

Fortunately, content creation is made much easier with all the powerful tools we have at our disposal. If you’re looking for some new ones to try out, take a look at these suggestions:

Sarah’s go-to tools include: WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin, Twitter, Medium, other blogs, newsletters, and even life events.

BuzzSumo, Keyword Tool, and SEMrush are all great options for conducting keyword research. For editing, Grammarly is a popular option. And for anyone who wants an easy way to create graphics, Canva is awesome.

Gaby is a big fan of Grammarly as well!

Julia relies on a variety of tools including: WordPress, Google Docs, Airtable, Yoast, Mangools, SEMrush, and BuzzSumo.

Beth loves to use the Hemingway app, which is another popular tool for content creation.
Want to join in on the Twitter chat fun? Our chat takes place every Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time! Be sure to follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat for all the latest!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Making Content Marketing & SEO Work for Your Brand with Gini Dietrich

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Making Content Marketing & SEO Work for Your Brand with Gini Dietrich

By now, you probably know how important content marketing and SEO are for your online brand. But do you really know how to implement them? In this #ContentWritingChat, we discussed this topic and received some really great advice from our chat participants. Keep reading to learn more!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Making Content Marketing & SEO Work for Your Brand with Gini Dietrich

Our guest host this week was Gini Dietrich. Gini is the CEO of Arment Dietrich. She’s also an author and a speaker. In this week’s chat, she shared some valuable tips you’ll want to use for your own brand.

Q1: Content marketers today have to know SEO. Do you have a process you recommend to combine both?

To kick off the chat, we asked everyone to share their tips for combining both content marketing and SEO. Here are some of the responses we received:

Gini’s process includes the following: defining keywords where you can compete, creating headlines, developing an editorial calendar, publishing content, earning high-value links, and tracking results.

Julia says it all starts with knowing your keywords. She loves to use SEMrush for this. Then, she writes an optimized headline and begins creating her content.

For Emma, her process starts by identifying keywords with Google’s Keyword Planner and other research. She knows it’s important to figure out what your audience is looking for.

Mallie recommends using Yoast, which is a powerful WordPress plugin. It’ll give you an understanding of the basics of SEO.

Make sure you always write with your audience in mind. You need to create content that will appeal to your human readers.

As Sarah said, your end goal is always to get the right content in front of the right people.

Kristin agrees that you need a strategy in order to get your content in front of the right people.

Q2: So, are you saying we need to create content for robots first?

The big question here is… Who do we focus on when creating content? Do we focus on the human reader or the robots running the search engines? Here’s what our chat participants had to say:

Gini doesn’t feel robots should be your primary focus. Instead, she recommends keeping a list of questions your customers and prospective customers ask. You can then do keyword research and create content based on those commonly asked questions so you can better address your audience’s needs.

Andrea is right. Google is getting a lot smarter and they do pick up on it when you create great content for your human audience.

Gaby’s advice is to focus on providing quality, valuable content for your audience first and foremost.

Kristin focuses on writing for her audience and makes SEO tweaks afterwards.

In the end, your audience is who really cares about the content you create. Always keep them in mind.

Q3: The Google Keyword Planner only gives ranges for non-advertisers. How can we get more specifics?

Our chat participants had some great advice for getting more specific information when it comes to keyword research. Here’s what they had to say:

Gini likes using the Moz keyword planner, which is a favorite for many content creators.

Sarah suggests looking towards some other tools for help. She recommends Moz, SEMrush, and keywordtool.io.

SEMrush and Majestic SEO are also two popular tools.

Louise turns to platforms like BuzzSumo and Reddit for finding relevant topics and keywords that people are talking about.

Sarah has found Answer the Public to be a great tool to help you find ideas for your content.

Grep Words is another tool you can consider using for your keyword research.

Social listening is another great way to tune into what your audience wants and needs.

Gaby’s advice is to monitor your market, industry, audience, brand, and your analytics.

Q4: Can you define domain authority and explain why it’s important to content marketers?

Wondering what domain authority is and whether or not it’s important for you? Check out these responses from the chat:

Gini says domain authority gives a metric at the top of the funnel. It gives you the opportunity to find high-value sites for media relations and publicity.

If you want to learn more, check out the link Kristin shared.

Julia said domain authority is a metric created by Moz. She suggests paying attention when researching keyword opportunities.

As Sarah said, it correlates with rankings and performance in search engines.

Q5: How do you recommend we pitch contributed content, if we’re not PR pros?

If you need some tips for pitching contributed content, just check out this advice:

Gini feels pitching is all about relationships. You can start building a relationship with a publication by sharing their content first. You can also comment on their content and talk to them on Twitter. Once you’ve built up that relationship, you can move forward with your pitch.

Kristen’s advice is to know who you’re pitching inside and out. It’s the best way to ensure you’re a good fit.

Andrea suggests building relationships with publications and authors. When you do, you stand a better chance at getting a yes from them when you pitch content.

Devin also agrees with building a relationship with the site and editor you’re wanting to pitch to. It also helps to have examples of work you’ve already published.

Mike suggests building a relationship first as well. Ask to contribute a piece when the time is right.

Mallie’s advice is to personalize the pitches you send. You want to showcase the value you can provide through a contribution you’d like to submit.

Ditch the mass emails when pitching. Be personal and genuine when contacting someone about a contribution.

Shannon said it’s all about fining the right contact person, showing value, and filling a need.

Q6: What if someone had a topic that has very low search volume? How do you handle that?

What should you do if your topic doesn’t have the highest search volume? Here’s some helpful advice:

As Devin said, it’s ultimately going to depend on your niche. Not every niche will have the same size, search volume, etc. And Gini agrees. Low search volume can be beneficial in a niche industry.

Julia knows it’s not worth trashing a topic simply because it has low search volume. Check out the graphic she shared with tips on how to validate your content topic.

What really matters is that the content is well-written and it’s created for a specific audience.

As Sarah pointed out, those searchers are still in need of content, even if it is a small amount.

While search volume is valuable, Mallie knows that engagement is key as well.

Q7: Can we use LinkedIn Pulse and Medium to help increase our domain authority?

Are platforms like LinkedIn Pulse and Medium worthwhile? Here’s what some of our chat participants had to say about the subject:

Gini feels it won’t boost your domain authority, but it will build your readership and send traffic back to your site.

Julia says yes. She suggests including posts on LinkedIn Pulse and Medium in your monthly content plan. You can use it as an opportunity to link to related content on your site.

Zala agrees that these platforms can be great for cross-linking and generating traffic to your website.

While it might not help you increase domain authority, it can help you get more traffic.

It’s also worthwhile to determine if your audience is actually spending time on these platforms. If they are, it’ll be worthwhile for you to share content there.

Q8: Can you give us a list of all the tools you recommend for this type of work?

If you’re in need of some new tools to try out, we’ve got you covered! Check out these suggestions from the chat:

Gini suggests having a list of questions from your customers and prospects, a keyword planner, a mind mapping tool, and an editorial calendar. She also recommends having some patience, elbow grease, and the ability to build relationships with others.

A creative mind and a strong work ethic are certainly important.

Louise says you should have a strategy, but always keep it flexible.

Yoast, BrightEdge, and Google Docs are essential for Mallie.

Julia relies on SEMrush, Mangools, KWFinder, BuzzSumo, and Airtable.

Andrea’s go-to tools include BuzzSumo, Feedly, and Hashtagify.

Recap of Recommended Tools:

  • SEMrush
  • Moz
  • keywordtool.io
  • Answer the Public
  • Mangools
  • BrightEdge
  • Hashtagify
  • Grep Words
  • Majestic SEO
  • BuzzSumo
  • Reddit

Be sure to join us for the next #ContentWritingChat, which happens every Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time. (We’ll skip July 4, though! Happy Independence Day to all our chatters!) Follow us @ExpWriters and @writingchat for all the latest updates!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Language in Content with Tara Clapper

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Language in Content with Tara Clapper

Are you ready to step-up your writing skills? In this #ContentWritingChat, we got technical by talking about language in content. We discussed the use of formal language, changes to style guides, the role an editor plays, and much more.

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Language in Content with Tara Clapper

Our guest host this week was our very own Content Development Specialist, Tara Clapper. We were excited to have her join us and she shared some helpful advice you’ll be able to put to use when creating content of your very own. Let’s dive in!

Q1: When should you use colloquial vs. formal language in your content?

Colloquial vs. formal language. How do you know which one to use when creating content? Here are some tips from this week’s chat that will help you decide:

This is great advice from Tara. She recommends using language that is going to reach your audience. You can speak like they do and make them feel loved and appreciated. It’s just one way to help you better connect with them.

Not only do you want to consider your audience, but you also want to consider the type of content you’re creating. You might find that various content types require a different style of language in content.

Krystal knows that it largely depends on who your audience is. When you know what will resonate with your audience, the decision is much easier. She also suggests considering the goals you’re trying to reach as well because the language you use can impact that.

For Jason, he likes to stick to formal language when creating ads. However, he’s more informal, down to earth, and humanizing in his regular content. Many choose to switch up their language depending on the type of content they’re producing.

Sarah from ThinkSEM feels the same way. Marketing and sales content is more formal, but blogs and social media interactions are reflective of how you’d speak in real life.

This is a great reason to consider what your audience is going to resonate with. For Sara, she’s noticed that anything too formal in her industry goes over the heads of her readers. You don’t want this to happen, so make sure you choose your language style wisely.

Q2: Recently, AP formalized the use of the singular “they.” Should brand adopt trends before style guide changes?

By now, many of us are pretty familiar with the AP Stylebook. They’re known to make changes with every new edition, but does that mean brands should adopt changes before they’re made official in the AP Stylebook? Here’s some advice:

Tara said brands can absolutely adopt trends before style guide changes are made. As she said, those changes come about due to usage, which means people have already adopted them. It helps to be in tune with how your audience speaks.
She also suggests adopting changes quickly if you want your brand to be seen as progressive. If your brand is more traditional, Tara feels you can wait.

Sarah said brands should write however they want to write. Not everyone is going to adhere to the rules in a style guide, which is absolutely fine. You have to do what’s right for you.

As Jeremy said, language evolves quickly. You never know what language trends people will have adopted by the time style guides are updated.

When you adopt new changes, it shows that you’re staying updated on the trends. Your audience will likely appreciate that!

Being on social media is one way to pick up on trends early on. You’ll likely notice a shift in language just by seeing how others are talking.

Q3: What is a sensitivity edit? Should social media messages pass one?

Have you heard of a sensitivity edit before? Do you think social media messages need to pass one? We asked this question during the chat and here’s what a few people had to say:

Tara said a sensitivity edit checks for meanings in messages that could be blatantly or inadvertently offensive to groups. You want to be sure that the posts you make aren’t going to offend anyone, otherwise it could spell disaster for your brand. For this reason, she encourages all brands to conduct a sensitivity edit on their content.

As Zala said, words do matter. You have to consider cultural and sensitivity factors when creating content for social media and any other platforms. Things can easily be misunderstood and you don’t want to take a chance.

Take a cue from other brands who have messed up big time by posting things people wound up finding offensive. It’s always better to think twice before posting.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth is right about this one. People do take offense to a lot, so you might think something is okay to post, but people may dislike it.

Key things you’ll want to avoid include: anything that’s blatantly offensive, political posts, or religious posts. These are sensitive topics that could open your brand up to a world of backlash if you aren’t careful.

Q4: Does the level of formality differ based on the type of content?

Going back to our first question, we switched gears to talk about formality again. We asked our audience if they felt formality differed based on the type of content they were creating. Here’s what some participants had to say:

Tara says yes! She feels articles and authority pieces typically have a more formal tone than standard blog posts. However, she said podcasts can be more conversational.

Maureen also knows an adjustment in voice can be necessary. While she generally keeps it pretty informal, she makes changes for video content, white papers, and emails.

It helps to consider not just your audience, but the purpose of your content. The purpose behind why you’re writing could change your style as well.

Elizabeth said to consider the platform and content type when deciding on your voice. You want to consider how your readers are going to interpret what you’ve written.

On the flip side, Lex feels that a brand should always stick to the same tone instead of switching back and forth between formal and informal depending on the content.

As Jason knows, it ultimately goes back to your audience. If the way you write doesn’t resonate with your audience, they aren’t going to connect with it and they won’t engage with it.

Q5: When should customers be more forgiving of a brand’s errors in grammar or usage?

We all make mistakes, right? Does this mean customers need to be forgiving when their favorite brand posts something with a typo or grammatical error? Here are some responses from Tuesday’s chat:

Tara feels that people should be more forgiving of errors, especially during something that’s live like a Twitter chat.

We’re all human behind these social media accounts, so don’t be so quick to attack someone over a simple mistake.

Mistakes shouldn’t be a regular occurrence because it’s important to proofread. However, it’s no big deal if they happen once in a while because it’s just part of being human. If you notice an error, correct it as soon as possible.

Maureen says to forgive a brand when they own up to the mistake and are open to hearing the feedback of their audience.

Bre says we should forgive and forget! What’s important is that you learn from those mistakes and try your best to avoid them in the future.

Darcy is spot on with this answer. As she said, mistakes happen, but they shouldn’t happen a lot. When publishing content, you need to strive to be accurate, so always double-check first.

Think about it this way… We’ve all experienced the simple mistake Jeremy mentioned and we wouldn’t want someone being critical with us over it.

To help cut down on mistakes, Ray suggests using tools like Grammarly or the Hemingway App.

Q6: Are editors responsible for spelling and grammar only, or also tone and messaging?

Having an editor on hand to review your work is always helpful, but are they just there to check for spelling and grammar mistakes? Should your editor be reviewing mistakes in tone in messaging as well? Here’s what some of our chat participants had to say:

Tara said she includes edits to tone and messaging under developmental editing duties, as opposed to copy editing.

As Ray said, it really depends on what the writer is looking for. Does the writer want someone to just edit for grammar and spelling mistakes? Or do they also want you to look for errors in tone and messaging?

Elizabeth feels an editor should be responsible for reviewing everything in a piece of content. If that’s what you need an editor to do for you, make sure you’re clear about what you expect.

Debi feels it depends on the purpose of the editor. What did you hire the editor to do for you exactly?

Open communication is key. You should be appreciative and respectful of the feedback an editor gives you. Having a great working relationship will make a huge difference.

We like the way Maureen thinks!

Q7: What materials should a brand’s editor review in addition to standard copy?

Besides just standard copy, what other materials should your editor take a look at? Here are some suggestions from the chat:

Tara said an editor should review anything they’re tasked with. Here at Express Writers, this can include checking for trustworthy links and ensuring copy is unique.

Elizabeth said an editor should review copy, format, graphics, and the fluidity of a campaign.

You may want an editor to review any content that has writing on it. This can include captions on videos.

If it’s going public, have your editor review it first.

Mike agrees that you need to proofread and revise anything before your audience sees it.

You can even have your editor review photos before publishing them.

It’s important to review everything from social media content to press releases to ensure everything is free of errors.

With new forms of content out there, editors are sure to stay busy.

Q8: What existing linguistic trends are on the rise?

Which trends are on the rise that you might want to adopt? Check out these responses:

Tara said inclusive language is on the rise for millennials, as is personal language.

Acronyms and emojis are taking over and you want to be sure you’re using them in the right way.

GIFs and videos continue to rise in popularity as well.

There has also been an increase in hashtags, which is one reason to review a hashtag before using it.
Join us every Tuesday at 10 AM CST for #ContentWritingChat! Follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat to stay updated on our new topics and guests.

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create Content That Builds Community & Generates Leads with Kathleen Burns

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create Content That Builds Community & Generates Leads with Kathleen Burns

Did you catch #ContentWritingChat this week? If not, there’s no need to worry! We have a recap of our latest chat and it’s filled with amazing tips to help you take your content to the next level. If you’re ready to learn how to create content that builds community and generates leads, keep reading!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create Content That Builds Community & Generates Leads with Kathleen Burns

For this week’s chat, we were joined by Kathleen Burns. Kathleen is the Community Manager the United States Blog Editor for our friends over at SEMrush. She joined us to share her tips on creating content that not only builds community for your brand, but also helps you generate leads.

Q1: How can you create content that appeals to your audience? What steps do you need to take?

One key element in creating successful content for your brand is appealing directly to the people you’re trying to reach. Without creating the content that speaks directly to them, you’re going to wind up attracting all the wrong people or worse… No one at all! Here’s what you need to know about creating content your audience will love:

As Kathleen said, the first step in creating content that appeals to your audience is talking to them and listening to what they have to say. You can learn so much about the questions they have and the issues they’re facing by just asking them. Reviews, posts on online forums, and comments on your blog are also great sources of feedback from your audience. She recommends creating a reader persona so you know exactly who you’re writing for.
It always helps to address your audience’s key pain points. Not only will they appreciate it, but it’s the best way to provide tremendous value to them. They’ll want to keep coming back for more and more after that.

Julia agrees! Listening is key to getting to know your audience and understanding their needs. Treat it like a real life relationship and start making those connections through conversations and listening to what others have to say.

James said step one is always to know your audience. Without truly knowing who you’re trying to reach with your content, you aren’t able to create the content that will speak to them. Get to know and understand your audience before you move forward with creating blog posts and social media content.

Kristi agrees that knowing your audience is the first step to content creation. She suggests determining what they’re talking about, but also what they have liked of your content so far. For example, see what your most popular blog posts are because it’s likely a good indicator that your audience would love to see more content that’s similar.

Bill’s advice is to learn the preferences of your audience as well as their pain points. When you know they’re preferences, you can determine what content formats they like the most and which topics are their favorites. Understanding their pain points gives you the opportunity to solve their biggest struggles.

Cassandra’s advice is spot on. If you want to get to know your audience, it helps to get out and actually talk to them. Strike up a conversation in your blog’s comments, on social media, or within your email newsletter. The options are endless. Figure out what they need and what they’re struggling with and then deliver exactly what they need.

As Jacob said, you want to understand the problems, desires, and wants of your audience. Once you have that figured out, you can create the content they need the most.

Q2: Why is it important to set goals for your content? Discuss goals to set for community building and lead generation.

The content you create should always serve a purpose, whether it’s a blog post, a video, a podcast, or something else. In order to determine if you achieved what you set out to do, you need to set goals that you can actually measure and track. Here’s what some of the participants in Tuesday’s chat said about setting content goals:

Kathleen said content goals provide direction and depth for content development. Here advice is to make your goals something measurable and define what a successful piece of content means for you. That could be different for everyone and could vary depending on the content. One blog most might be designed to drive email sign-ups, while another could be promoting a product or building brand awareness. It all depends what you’re trying to achieve.

Right on! If you don’t set goals, you have no way to measure your success. If you can’t measure your success, you won’t have any idea how to make improvements the next time around. And the reality is, no matter how great we think we are, there’s always room for improvement. You just need to know what to improve upon and you can only do that by measuring your previous results.

As Zala said, you don’t want to just push content out. Your content needs to serve a purpose so you should always have a measurable call to action (CTA).

As Sarah said, if you aren’t getting results then it’s just a waste of time and money. You want to make sure you’re achieving what you set out to do after putting so much time and effort into creating your content. Setting goals and measuring the results is what will help make this all worthwhile.
She also mentioned that some great goals for community building include engagement factors. Is your audience liking and sharing your content? Are they leaving comments? Is your community growing? These are all great things to track.

Q3: What kind of content helps to build an engaged community around your brand?

Building a community is something pretty much every brand is after these days. You want to have a loyal audience who likes your content and trusts you. You want your audience to take that next step and engage with you. These tips will help you create that for your own brand:

Kathleen recommends addressing the needs of your audience with the content you create. You can share tips that will help them in some way, which they’ll find beneficial.

Jason said to post content that is relatable and shareable. Pictures and quotes are always a great way to go. When you share content that inspires them, they’re going to be more inclined to share it with their audience.

Jenn suggests sharing things like user-generated content, infographics, videos, and interviews. Content that is going to encourage a conversation between you and your audience is key here. You can always experiment to see what works best for your brand because it’s going to be different for everyone.

Lex also agrees that user-generated content is powerful. Encourage your audience to actually be a part of your community by inviting them to post content that is relevant to your brand. One of the best ways to do this is through a branded hashtag on Instagram.

If you want to build an engaged community, you need to provide value through the content you create. Debi’s advice is to create content that helps your audience by answering their questions. Everything you share should be relevant to grab their attention.

Make sure you give them a reason to interact with you. As Kristi said, you can create a poll or ask questions to get feedback and to get a conversation flowing. It really is that simple! You just have to be willing to take that step to encourage engagement.

As Julia mentioned, live conversation is perfect for this. You can do that through your very own Twitter chat, live video, and more.

Q4: How will you know if your content has been well-received by your audience? What metrics are important to track?

When you’re creating content, one thing that’s important is making sure your audience actually liked it. But how can you tell if they enjoyed your content and received value from it? These tips will help you determine the success of your content, plus you’ll know exactly which metrics to track:

Kathleen said to ask yourself which metrics apply to your overall goals. Depending on your goals, you may want to track mentions, replies, social media shares, and downloads.

As Liliana said, it’s clear that your content was well-received when your audience takes some sort of action. Click-throughs, comments, and downloads are all metrics that are worth tracking.

Brandie pointed out that some common metrics include clicks, shares, and sales. It’s also worthwhile to monitor what your audience is saying. Are they talking about your content and if so, what are they saying about it? If your content got them talking in a good way, then that’s always a positive sign.

Keep in mind that everyone has different goals for their content and sometimes your goal can vary depending on the piece of content. Some common metrics are shares, conversions, and sales. When you see people converting on your content or making a purchase, that’s always a great sign that they received some amount of value. There’s nothing better than when your audience takes that next step with your brand.

Q5: What are key steps to take in order to generate leads from blog posts and social media?

One of the top goals people set for their content is lead generation, however many people just don’t know how to make it happen. So, here’s what you need to know to see results:

Don’t forget that call to action! If you want your audience to take that next step, you have to be clear about what that next step is. Hold their hand and lead them exactly where you want them to go. Don’t count on them to figure it out on their own.

Jason also knows the importance of an effective CTA. Make it clear what you want your audience to do next so they aren’t left wondering. You have to capture their attention before they click off your page for good.

Developing a connection with your audience is key in establishing trust. The reality is, people aren’t likely to buy your product or service after discovering you for the first time. You have to work to build a relationship with them and build trust before you can expect to generate leads consistently.

Engaging with your audience is a key part of generating leads. People are going to be more inclined to purchase from a brand that they have engaged and connected with. Chat with your audience and start building that KLT (Know, Like, Trust) Factor with them and you’re sure to see results.

Jeremy also agrees that engagement is important when it comes to generating leads. Make sure you’re having conversations with your audience, listening to what they have to say, and genuinely showing that you care about them and their needs. If they don’t take action right away, you can always follow up with them.

These are all essential steps that Lex suggested. She recommends listening to your audience and helping them in any way that you can, which then builds trust. You should also create CTAs and set goals for your content.

Q6: How does brand storytelling play a factor in community building and lead generation?

You likely hear people talking about the importance of “brand storytelling” all the time these days. You may even be wondering how it impacts community building and lead generation and how you can use your brand’s story to your advantage. Here’s what you need to know:

As Kathleen said, storytelling can bring a community together. That’s pretty powerful for anyone who is trying to grow their brand and develop trust with their audience.

Overall, storytelling makes your brand feel more human. It gives your brand personality, a meaning, and passion. Your brand’s story is ultimately what will draw people in and what will help them connect with you.

As Brittany said, humans connect through stories and people buy from other people. A potential customer is going to be more likely to purchase from you when they feel connected in some way and when they’ve started trusting you.

Your story adds personal flair and character to your brand, which is what your audience will find relatable. It’s what will draw them in and make them love what you’re creating.

When your story resonates with your target audience (and it should), it helps you to develop a deeper connection with them. That’s only the beginning of the customer journey.

If your brand’s story isn’t worth following, why would anyone want to stick around? Your brand story needs to be compelling and should appeal to your target audience.

Q7: Which tools do you rely on to help you create amazing content?

While you’re totally fine to just rely on pen and paper, we have a plethora of amazing tools at our fingertips today. These are tools that help make the content creation process even easier, which is always a plus. Check out these tools for yourself:

This is a great list of tools from Kathleen. Have you tried any of them? If not, you definitely should!

A keyboard and a brain full of ideas is a great place to start when it comes to content creation. Plus, it never hurts to have a furry friend to bounce ideas off of.

Brittany always keeps a notebook or her phone on hand to jot down ideas as she gets them. It’s so important to have a place to store those ideas that pop up when you least expect it.

This is how we keep Express Writers functioning!

Cassandra relies on BuzzSumo, Moz, Rival IQ, and industry communities to aid in her content creation.

Ray’s go-to tools include Google Drive, Google Docs, and Evernote. He also uses WordPress and Hootsuite.

If you need help with keyword research or content ideas, these three tools should definitely be in your arsenal.

Sabjan turns to BuzzSumo, Neil Patel, and our own Julia McCoy when he needs help with content creation.

Q8: What brands have built an incredible community?

And finally, we wrapped up the chat by asking everyone to tag a brand they felt has built an incredible community through their content. Here’s what some of them had to say:

We’re big fans of Buffer here at Express Writers!

Lexie is making us blush with her answer. Thanks so much! Besides our team, she also recommends Procter & Gamble and Jimmy Johns.

Lori is a fan of our friend, Sue B. Zimmerman!

The Tentacle team thinks Taco Bell has done a great job at building a strong community.
We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!
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#ContentWritingChat Recap: Best of 2016 Content with Express Writers, AWeber, and Buffer

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Best of 2016 Content with Express Writers, AWeber, and Buffer

Did you join us for this week’s #ContentWritingChat? Whether you missed all the fun or you’re in need of a refresher, we have an amazing recap to dive into! It was a pretty big chat this week as we took a look back at content from 2016, so grab a snack and check out this recap:

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Best of 2016 Content

Since this was our big year-end chat, we knew we had to go out with a bang! We decided to reflect on the amazing content that was produced over the past year and invited three different guests to join us.
Brian Peters handles social media and marketing over at Buffer. If you frequently read their blog, you’ve probably seen some posts by him or noticed him on their Instagram Stories. Olivia Dello Buono has joined our chat as a guest host in the past, so it was great to have her back. She handles social media and community over at AWeber. And finally, our very own Content Development Specialist, Tara Clapper, joined us as well. With copywriting, social media, and email marketing covered with our guest hosts, you know it was a great chat!

Q1: Favorite publication(s) to read and learn from in 2016?

First up, we asked our chat participants to share their favorite publications to read over the past year. What sites did they love? Were there any brands whose content they always looked forward to reading? (Besides us at Express Writers, of course!) Here’s what they had to say:

Brian’s top four include First Round, The Next Web, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Help Scout. If you haven’t checked out some of these, definitely add them to your reading list!

Olivia enjoys reading content from Kissmetrics and Movable Ink. She’s also a fan of her AWeber’s blog, which is awesome to see her supporting the team she works with.

Some of Tara’s go-to websites include Search Engine Journal and Mashable.

Our CEO, Julia, as a big fan of the sites she shared. You just might find a post of her own on some of them from time to time, so keep your eyes peeled!

One of Kristen’s favorites includes the CoSchedule blog, which we are also fans of here at Express Writers!

Tony shared an amazing list of sites that are worth checking out if you haven’t already!

Buffer, NewsCred, Sujan Patel, Convince, and Entrepreneur all share some amazing content. These were great recommendations from Varun!

Q2: Share something you published in 2016 that was your best work.

Next, we asked everyone in the chat to share a link to something they published in the past year that they were proud of. We received a bunch of great responses to this question, so start bookmarking these blog posts:

Olivia worked hard to put together a post that’s filled with list-building tactics that experts shared with AWeber. It’s definitely a great read if you want to learn how to grow your email list in the New Year.

Brian published a piece on Buffer’s blog that featured some tips to help you enhance your social media presence. This is a must-read if you want to make a splash on social media.

Tara loved putting together this post for our friends at SEMrush, where she talking about merging her Twitter accounts.

Tara also created some amazing content for our blog, including this piece on how to create cornerstone content. Be sure to check this one out!

As for me, I published this piece on Snapchat earlier in the year. It’s a must-read for anyone wondering how to use the platform effectively for their business.

Julia said her best piece was a case study on the rankings and content here at Express Writers. In this post, you’ll find out exactly how we outrank our competitors.

Do you want to learn how to create an effective call to action? Check out this post that Kristen shared!

The team over at Web Themes Plus received great feedback on their post about conducting a website audit. Now is the perfect time to give this one a read!

Although she didn’t write it herself, Becky did assist our own Tara on this awesome post. It’s all about how to communicate on social media when a tragedy has occurred. This is one every social media user should read.

Q3: What were some trends you noticed with content this year?

Just like with fashion, there are trends that come along with content creation as well. Check out the trends that reigned supreme this year and be sure to incorporate them into your strategy for next year:

Olivia said people are getting tired of the clickbait headlines. People are craving authenticity and they don’t want to be misled. So, take this advice: ditch the clickbait in your online content.

Funny, but true! Many brands stuck to producing long-form content, which works for many audiences. However, you’re sure to find someone else writing about how people have shorter attention spans.

Brian said Medium has grown a lot in 2016, which encouraged more people to create value-packed short-form content. He also pointed out the rise of audio content this year, with more and more podcasts being launched, including one from Buffer!

Lexie from Netvantage Marketing feels there’s been too much quantity and not enough quality when it comes to content from certain websites. The reality is, quality beats quantity every single time. Don’t post for the sake of posting. Make sure everything you publish is high-quality, provides value, and is relevant to your audience.

It sounds like Jeremy agreed with Lexie. Quality over quantity every single time, friends!

Monica noticed that many more content creators were taking the time to repurpose old content. After all, you don’t want those blog archives to go to waste, do you? You can breathe new life into older content by repurposing what you have already created.

Sabjan predicts the popularity of Snapchat and Periscope will only continue to grow over the next year.

Shannon has seen an increased focus on community, customers, and audience. She also pointed out that there’s been more of a use of images, video, and live streaming in the online presence of many brands.

Lauren said content in all forms exploded over the past year. There have been even more people starting blogs, launching YouTube channels and using social video, and creating podcasts. There are so many mediums for content creation and many brands are branching out to explore new things.

Q4: Which brands have consistently done a fantastic job with their content this year?

There are a ton of brands that have been doing a great job with content creation during 2016, but which ones top the lists of our chat participants? Take a look at these brands for some amazing inspiration:

Brian said First Round was one of his favorite brands to read content from this past year. He felt they produced unique, valuable content that was always fun to read.

Olivia is spreading the love to our friends at Buffer by raving about their content. As she said, they always share great tips for social media marketers, whether it’s on their blog or their podcast.

Just like Debi, we are also big fans of Content Marketing Institute and Joe Pulizzi!

Jeremy mentioned a few brands that are great at creating content including Buffer, Hootsuite, and PostPlanner.

Here at Express Writers, we’re also big fans of Social Media Examiner!

Q5: Which newsletters did you look forward to seeing in your inbox?

So, which newsletters were top-notch in 2016? Check out these suggestions straight from Tuesday’s chat and start subscribing!

Olivia has three go-to newsletters that she always enjoys seeing in her inbox. Are you subscribed to any of these? If not, you’ll want to check them out!

Brian looked forward to seeing newsletters from Product Hunt and Soul Cycle. For marketing, he likes inbound.org and their newsletters.

Julia appreciates a good weekly round-up, like the one Search Engine Journal sends out weekly.

The team at Netvantage Marketing likes to subscribe to the newsletters their clients produce. It’s a great way to stay updated with what they’re sharing and get to know them better.

As for Mike, he enjoys emails that aren’t constant sales pitches. This is a good reminder of why you should always provide value with the emails you send to subscribers.

Q6: What was your biggest struggle when it came to content this past year?

Content creation isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it can be stressful and frustrating! We all struggle with content every now and then, but here are some of the main struggles our chat participants faced:

Brian’s struggle is one that we can all relate to. It can be hard to find time to write consistently and do it well. That’s a great thing to work on in 2017!

Olivia said one of the biggest struggles has been getting people to read new content. Sometimes you have to come up with new and creative ways to drive traffic back to your website.

Even though video continues to be hot, it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. As Tara reminds us, some people don’t shine at video. If that’s you, don’t feel bad! You can keep practicing until you get more comfortable in front of the camera or stick to what you know best. There’s no shame in that.

Staying organized can definitely be a challenge when it comes to content creation, especially if you’re creating for multiple mediums. There are blog posts to write, videos to film, podcasts to record, emails to write, and social media posts to share. It’s a lot! To make things easier, having an editorial calendar helps and so does batch writing.

There’s always room for improvement! Make some changes to streamline your internal process to make the content creation process much smoother.

Originality sure is a tricky one when you consider just how much content is on the internet today. Putting your own spin on things can be a struggle, but it’s a must if you want to stand out.

With new channels launching, it can be tricky to learn how to create content for them at first. However, as the D2 Media Solutions team pointed out, it’s a fun challenge to take on.

Trying to stick to a consistent schedule isn’t always easy. One thing to keep in mind is to do what works best for you. If you can’t commit to five quality posts per week, then don’t do it. Consider what you can manage and aim for that.

Q7: What was the number one thing you learned about content in 2016?

So, what’s the top thing you learned regarding content this year? Here are some of the responses from the chat:

Great point from Olivia! It doesn’t matter how great your content is if nobody sees it. Make sure your content is shareable and that you’re getting it out there for the world to see.

Brian said organic reach on social media is going down, so he encourages people to focus even more on SEO and paid social media.

As Tara said, you can’t give one size fits all advice. You need to make your content personal.

Julia’s advice is to do some great promotion for the content you publish. It’s the best way to get major results online.

Quality over quantity! Make sure everything you publish has value.

Getting the right content in front of the right people is essential to success!

Write for your audience first and Google second.

Make your content shareable and you’re sure to gain traction on social media and get more traffic to your site.

For Georgina, she learned that it’s best outsource content creation. After all, that’s why companies like Express Writers exist!

Timeless advice we should all remember: be yourself.

Q8: What advice do you have for content creators going into 2017?

One final piece of advice? Check out these tweets:

Be consistent with your content. Brian also suggests building quality backlinks.

Quality and consistency are two keys to success when it comes to content.

Don’t be afraid to take risks. Olivia said great content always has a unique point of view.

Julia said to be opinionated and back it up with strong research. You should always be yourself and don’t be afraid to take risks.

Not sure what your audience wants or needs? You don’t have to guess. All you have to do is ask them.

Quality over quantity. Add purposeful visuals to your content. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new content types to see what works best for you and your audience.

Know what your limits are. If something is beyond your capabilities, resources, or bandwidth, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Don’t publish for the sake of publishing. Your content should be strategic and should serve a purpose.

Plan your content in advance and just start writing! Even getting a rough draft out is a great place to start.
We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!