#ContentWritingChat Recap: Building a Brand That Thrives Through the Ups & Downs

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Building a Brand That Thrives Through the Ups & Downs

It’s safe to say that 2020 has been off to a challenging start, especially due to the worldwide pandemic that was caused by COVID-19. This virus triggered a lot of changes in our everyday lives. Many employees had to start working from home. Businesses had to pivot to be able to serve their customers and stay afloat financially. It’s been interesting, that’s for sure!
Our CEO, Julia McCoy, took the time to address this in a couple of blog posts that went live recently. (A reminder that it’s important to be flexible with your content strategy!) One of those posts was all about building a brand that can stand the test of time, even when things get tough. You can read that post here.
And we were inspired by that post to hold a #ContentWritingChat on the same topic.

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Building a Brand That Thrives Through the Ups & Downs

This month, we opted to host a community chat to discuss a topic on the minds of many business owners during this worldwide pandemic of COVID-19. How can you build a brand that thrives despite what may be going on in the world? Well, if you’re wondering the same thing, this chat recap has some great advice for you!

Q1: What do you think are some of the biggest struggles brands have faced during this pandemic?

Being that we were all in this together, many brands dealt with the exact same struggles. Here are just some of the issues that came up during this time:

As Lexie pointed out, the unknown was definitely one of the biggest struggles because that’s just something you can’t prepare for. When you don’t know what’s next, that can be stressful and scary. Brands have essentially had to take it one step at a time during the entire pandemic.

John knows that brands were often left questioning if their messages were appropriate before posting. The risk of saying the wrong thing is often high during times of crisis. Not only that, but brands wondered how they would make enough money to pay their bills that continued to come in month after month. Many even considered changing their content plans that were already carefully crafted!

And when it comes to that content plan, should you make adjustments to discuss real-time issues such as the pandemic? If so, how much is too much? You certainly don’t want to flood your audience with it, as Danielle mentioned.

Consistency in messaging is always key. During times like this, it’s important to ask yourself if the content you’re putting out there is truly serving your audience or not.

And because so many people have been living in fear throughout this time, ensuring your customers that they would be safe when doing business with you was another crucial message to spread. But besides just reassuring them, you also needed to keep them safe, especially for in-person businesses.

Q2: When it comes to the brands that will withstand the test of time, what are some of the characteristics about them that stand out?

The harsh reality is that not all brands survive. But if you want to be around for a long time, there are some important characteristics to embrace.

As Michelle said, brands cannot make it all about them. Your focus needs to be on your audience and how you can best be of service and provide a great experience.

Rachel’s last point about knowing when to stop posting and start listening is something everyone needs to be reminded of.

Q3: Creating authoritative, valuable content is a huge part of building a great brand. How can you be sure your content makes an impact?

Before you create that next piece of content, you’ll want to read through these tips!

First, you need to figure out what your audience actually needs from you. It’s important that you’re delivering the content that they need the most in this very moment.

But how do you figure out what they want? Survey them! Danielle knows that’s a powerful way to figure out exactly what your audience wants. Ask them what topics are important to them and what they’re struggling with right now.

As Zala said, authoritative content is aligned with your topic, industry, and audience. It’s also well-researched and clearly shares your own point of view. That’s what makes a piece of content unique after all… Your own thoughts and opinions!

When building a brand, you want to make sure the content you publish adds value, has a consistent voice, is creative and unique, and tells a story.

You’ll also want to pay attention to how people respond to your content. As Carrie said, what happens after they consume that blog post of yours? Do they leave a comment or send an email? Do they actually make a purchase? It’s important to watch your data because it says a lot about which content is working for you.

And remember to use your platform to say what needs to be said in the moment.

Q4: Consistency is definitely key when building your brand, but what exactly does it look like to be consistent online?

Being consistent isn’t just about having a regular posting schedule, you know!

When building a brand, Michelle knows it’s not a good look if you neglect posting on your social media platforms. That’s why it’s important to prioritize content creation and it also helps to schedule posts in advance.

Shawn agrees. Far too often brands just abandon social media accounts and they’re really missing out on potential connections with their community.

Posting and engaging regularly is a huge part of being consistent when building a brand.

But as Lexie said, never sacrifice quality for quantity. Figure out how much quality content you can actually commit to in a single week and make that your goal.

It’s also important to be consistent with your research, coming up with new ideas, etc.

Besides sticking to your posting schedule, consistency is also important for your voice and the visual representation of your brand. Using the same colors and fonts can help your imagery become more recognizable. And you want to use the same voice and keep things high-quality across all platforms.

Q5: Authenticity and integrity are crucial for any brand. What does integrity mean to you and how can your brand portray this characteristic?

Building a brand that has integrity is something that we all strive for. Here’s what you need to know if you want your own brand to embody this:

Be open and honest with your audience at all times.

Set standards for your brand and actually stick to them.

Believe in your mission and let that be the guiding force behind everything you do.

Establish trust and integrity will follow.

Be true to yourself.

Q6: How can you be sure you’re providing an amazing experience for any customers who engage with your brand?

Nothing turns people aways quite like a bad customer experience. Make sure you aren’t doing that by taking advice straight from the chat!

Gaby feels a great customer experience comes from brands that are consistent, personal, accessible, transparent, responsive, trustworthy, flexible, communicative, proactive, and attentive.

It’s always smart to ask for feedback to learn what’s working and where you can make improvements. Don’t be shy about reaching out to past customers about their experience with you.

Make sure you’re actually listening and implementing the feedback they provide.

Keep an eye on reviews and any constructive criticism you can improve upon.

And make sure you’re addressing both positive and negative reviews because the negative ones can be a great learning opportunity.

Another great idea is to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Do you feel you provide a great experience for them? Test it out and see!

Q7: Which brands have seemingly done a great job withstanding the ups and downs throughout the pandemic? How can we be inspired by them?

Check out these brands and see how you can implement some of their strategies for yourself.

Grammarly and SEMrush are always awesome!

MeetEdgar has been great as well!

During what was surely a challenging time for USPS with extra packages being shipped, they put in the work to handle everything for their customers.

Gaby said Chef Jose Andres has done a stand-out job during this time to serve his community better.

This link that Michelle shared is worth checking out! Many brands tweaked their messaging for their TV commercials during the pandemic.

Q8: Will you be making any pivots within your brand moving forward as a result of this time?

A few people shared some changes they’ll be making as a result of the pandemic, so here are some responses:

Michelle has seen more of a focus on digital during this time with her clients.

Lynette wants to prioritize doing more collaborations with bloggers and those in her industry. That’s a great way to gain exposure!

Masooma wants to dive deeper into the content she creates moving forward.

And of course, this reminder from Gaby to always remain flexible is something we all need to hear from time to time. You have to be able to adapt to what’s going on, whether that’s with your content, your priorities, etc.
Join us for #ContentWritingChat on the first Tuesday of every month at 10 AM Central! Just follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat to stay updated.

10 Proven Ways to Create An Unforgettable Presence in Your Content Marketing

10 Proven Ways to Create An Unforgettable Presence in Your Content Marketing

When it comes to content, nobody wants to be “decent.”
Decent is boring.
It doesn’t stand out.
When it comes to your content, you want to be much more colorful.
You want people to describe the material you write as exciting, unique, amazing, and memorable.
But how do you get from Point A to Point B?
The answer is simple:
When you learn what separates incredible content from decent content, and which tricks you can use to create more of the former, it’s easy to stand out as one of the most skilled content marketers on the web.
Here’s your step-by-step guide.
content marketing presence

The Boring Content Marketing Epidemic

There’s an epidemic going around, and few people are talking about it.
No, it’s not the bird flu or the dreaded selfie “duck face.”
Instead, it’s something much, much more serious. It’s boring content.
In a world where more than 2 million blog posts are published daily, it’s safe to say that easily 90% of them are duplicative, boring, and unoriginal. It’s safe to say that most of them are crap.
Cloned from other blogs, regurgitated from prominent sources, or modeled on the 30 other blogs already written on a topic, these posts don’t do much but clog up the web and make it harder for truly unique content to stand out.
In some ways, this isn’t even the fault of individual writers. Instead, it’s the curse of an entire industry, which sometimes focuses on things that are viral and flashy more than it does on things that are unique and relevant.
In other cases, the boring content epidemic is perpetuated by the fact that everyone can be a publisher today, and this leads to the web being flooded with material that’s poorly written, poorly researched, and not worth reading.
If you subject to this boring content epidemic, it’ll have a real and dramatic impact on your content marketing. Fortunately, this fate isn’t inevitable. When you commit yourself to avoiding boring content and shooting for something bigger and more lasting, you can succeed in being one of the few content marketers that manages to develop unique content people remember.

Why Epically Amazing Content Matters

I know what you’re thinking.
“Come on – epically amazing content? Isn’t that just showing off? Or unforgettably impossible?”
The answer is no.
Not by a long shot!
Today, it matters more than it ever has mattered for brands to be unique, creative, and standout.
Here’s why: today’s consumers don’t just want an earful. They’re not looking for flashy promises, empty content, or regurgitated thoughts. Instead, they want real value. They want originality, and they want excitement. In fact, they base their purchasing decisions on these things.
According to a recent NewsCred study, 62% of millennials report that their brand loyalty is directly related to the type and quality of content a brand produces.
When you consider that millennials have an annual spending power of about $200 billion annually, this quickly becomes an important statistic.
Today, it’s not enough to just churn out boring content so you have something, anything, online. Instead, you’ve got to dedicate yourself and your brand to creating truly EPIC content that supports brand loyalty, builds your reputation, and helps people remember your company the next time they need a good or service.
Epic content is the only way to do this, which is why it’s emerged as the content format of the present and the future.
What’s more, the role of content is continually growing, and effective digital communication is more essential today than it’s ever been before.
Here are a few facts to illustrate my point:
content marketing stats
[clickToTweet tweet=”78% of CMOs report that content marketing is the future of marketing. @JuliaEMcCoy” quote=”78% of CMOs report that content marketing is the future of marketing. @JuliaEMcCoy”]
Today, epic content is the only way to go for brands who truly want to make an impact on the web. Enough of this wishy-washy crud. Enough mediocre articles and blog posts. Enough low-paid, low-researched material that doesn’t do anything but clog up the search results.
In an environment where it’s harder than ever to earn attention online, the only way to succeed is by creating superb material that outshines everything else with its levels of quality and relevance.

The Benefits of Epic Content

The first and most obvious benefit of epic content is that it helps your brand stand out. While few people talk about boring content creators, everyone talks about content marketers who break the mold and do things nobody else is daring to do.
Here are a few of the other benefits of truly epic content:

  • It’ll earn you more online shares
  • It provides more actionable, relevant, exciting information for your followers
  • It lasts longer and remains valuable for longer than ordinary content
  • It helps people trust your company
  • It makes you stand out as a thought leader

Beyond that, brands that create epic content can rest easy knowing that their content creation efforts are worth something. When you’re not beating yourself against a wall, struggling to come up with boring topic after boring topic, and then being devastated when they don’t produce the results you’d hoped they would, content creation gets much easier and much more satisfying.
Unfortunately, creating content that’s consistently memorable can be tough, and many brands struggle to develop a formula for doing it.

5 Tips to Create Epically Awesome Content

“Epic” is a high standard, but it’s totally attainable. You just need to know where to start. Here are five steps to get you closer to the goal of unforgettable online material:

1. 10x Your Research

One thing that separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to online content is research.
Think about it: writing is easy enough, for a lot of people. Almost anyone can put together an average blog post.
Heck, a prolific writer can easily crank out more than 1,000 words an hour, so even long-form material isn’t that hard to create.
When you look at it that way, there’s really nothing stopping everyone out there from creating ultimate, long-form guides, right?
The standout factor that’s missing from most content on the modern web is accurate, in-depth research.
While writing a 5,000-word post might be easy enough, researching something, pulling unique stats, and investing the time and effort required to develop a post that’s informative and relevant is harder.
Much harder.
With this in mind, one of the best things you can do for the quality of your online content is to hone your research skills. While most people had some formal research training in high school or college, now is a great time to brush up. For example, do you know what makes a reputable source and what doesn’t? Do you know how to reference your sources in your online material?
Good research is a skill not everyone has, and it can truly make the difference between a cheap, crappy post and something with legs.
Develop a list of go-to sources and learn to dig deep. Don’t ever link to something that’s linking to something else. Instead, go the extra mile and find the original source and unique, valuable, rare information that will stand out in your material and make an impact on your readers.
Not only will this differentiate your content – it will also make you a stronger writer.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Mold With Unique Content Types

While the quality of your content is essential any time you’re going for EPIC, so, too, is its format.
Today, the world of content extends far past a blog post or article. Right now, the content marketers that stand out in this industry are creating a wide variety of content, from infographics to memes and videos. If you want to run with them, you need to start mastering these content types, as well.
For example, we created a “gifographic” once: What Are Gifographics & 10 Ways To Use Them in Your Visual Content
Check out the moving parts in this clip:
Being creative with your content formats will net serious results. Here are a few ideas:

  • Facebook Live: Live streams on Facebook are getting billions of views now. Jump in while the trend is hot!
  • Twitter & Instagram quote cards: Perfect for sharing on social media and getting more traction from your content!
  • Infographics: To date, our most linked-to content are infographics. This is a major content investment, but the visual engagement stats make it worth it.
  • Blogs, web pages: Don’t forget your “anchor” content with an ongoing blog schedule and up-to-date, fresh web page writing.

In addition to standing out because they’re unique, these content types also stand out because they’re valuable, and the stats back that up.
Infographics, for example, are liked and shared on social media three times as often as any other type of content.
As if that weren’t enough, 14% of marketers were using live video last year, and 37% of content marketers report that visual marketing is the second most important form of content (after blogs) for their business.
With this in mind, consider creating infographics for your online presence. Not only are they a unique way to communicate information, but they can also help brand you as an informative company that goes the extra mile to deliver value and relevance to its readers

3. Structure Your Content Correctly

If you’re going to write content, you need to do it correctly. Instead of just slapping up a wall of words and expecting people to wade through it, structure your content so it’s as readable as possible.
Here are a few tips:
1) Use Headers And Subheaders. Headers and subheaders break up large bricks of text, and help guide readers through your material. For best results, make yours informative, succinct, and direct. Readers should know by looking at them what each section will teach them, and what they can expect to find within them. Keep in mind that exciting headers and subheaders will draw your readers through your content faster and more efficiently, so it’s in your best interest to make these as exciting as possible. After all, epic content doesn’t just happen here and there!
2) Break Up Long Paragraphs. Long paragraphs are alienating to readers, and can make it difficult for people to understand your meaning or your point. With this in mind, keep your paragraphs short – two to four sentences maximum. This makes your content easier for readers to skim and encourages them to read to the end.
3) Use Bulleted And Numbered Lists. Like short paragraphs and good subheadings, numbered lists and bullet points break large chunks of content into digestible bits and encourage viewers to read over them and find the information they need. Plus, they make your content more appealing to look at, which goes a long way toward making it epic.
4) Keep Your Sentences Short. Short sentences are easier to read. They make your content more inviting and help communicate your point more clearly. To take this one step further, don’t stop with just shortening your sentences: make the reading level of your content lower, as well. If it sounds like this is counterintuitive for epic content, think again. There’s a good deal of research that says online content performs best when it’s written between a seventh and eighth grade reading level.

4. Take Your Time With Content Creation

No matter how well you do everything else – from researching your content to formatting it – it’ll all be for naught if you rush the creation process. Here’s why: epic content isn’t an overnight process. Instead, it takes time. In the (slightly altered) words of Hemingway, “the first draft of anything is crap.” If you’re rushing through the writing process and publishing your first drafts, there’s virtually no chance they’ll stand out as truly epic.
That said, one big component of creating truly unique online material is to take the writing and creation process seriously, and give it the time it deserves.
Here’s a process to follow:
1) Write Your First Draft Without Stopping. It’s easy to self-edit when you create content. Instead of going back to change thoughts, alter spelling, and shift wording, though, write your first draft without stopping. The secret weapon of many successful writers, this process allows you to get into a flow state, where your thoughts are cohesive and developed, and it’s easy to move from one segment of the content to the next. While you don’t have to write fast, you should write consistently. After you finish your first draft, put it aside and don’t look at it for at least 6-12 hours.
2) Give Yourself 2-3 Rounds Of Editing. Once you’ve let your first draft “rest,” so to speak, you’ll want to give yourself ample time to complete 2-3 rounds of edits. Editing is by far the most time-consuming process of creating epic content, and allowing time for multiple passes will allow you to fine-tune the writing as much as possible. Depending on the length of the article and your personal editing process, this could mean leaving yourself a few days or even a few weeks.
3) Have Someone Else Read the Content. Even after you’ve gone through the content several times manually, having someone else look at it is critical. When you’ve written and edited content on your own, it can be easy to overlook simple mistakes in voice and tone, or to believe that the subject is clearer than it is. A third-party will be able to read for these things and can help make your content crisp and sharp, which will help it resonate with your audiences.
4) Publish With Visual Aides. Finally, it’s time to publish your content, but don’t hit that button just yet. Instead, take some time to dress your content up with helpful visuals. Things like screenshots, custom infographics, and images can go a long way to add some extra depth to your content and make it more appealing for readers. We’ve even created custom illustrations to 10x our visual aides, like this blog illustration with Princess Leia:
storytelling in web content
This will also help differentiate your content from everything else that’s out there and ensure you earn the views and traffic you deserve.

5. Find A Professional To Help You

By far one of the best things you can do to overhaul your content marketing is to partner with a team that cares about epically amazing content marketing rather than just creating content.
There are dozens of benefits to this.
Not only will this approach provide the guidance and direction you’ll need if you’re new to content marketing, but it will also give you a team of seasoned content professionals to bounce ideas off of and work closely with as you seek to flesh out your content strategy.
As if that weren’t enough, a team of content professionals can ensure that the blogs, articles, and other digital material you create are always high-quality and mindful of up-to-the-minute SEO and content marketing standards, which is nonnegotiable if you want to stand out online.

The Future is Bright For Your Content Marketing

Enough of so-so content that doesn’t go anywhere or do anything. Now is the era of epic content marketing, and it’s time to get on board.
By following these five tips and refining and perfecting your presence and content as you learn and evolve as a content marketer, you’ll stand out as a leader in content marketing.
So, what are you waiting for?
Break the mold of “decent” content and shock the web by showing your competitors and clients just what a difference epic content makes.
Need epic content? We specialize in that. Talk to our team today about your needs or browse the Content Shop.
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