Get Your Content Read in 2019: Tips From 5 Content Powerhouses

Get Your Content Read in 2019: Tips From 5 Content Powerhouses

By Karen TaylorOct 23 /2018

Talk to any marketer about their challenges, and one that pops up consistently is producing content that actually gets read. Every day B2B organizations add more content to the mountains already available. Only the most compelling, interesting, valuable and well written will rise to the top. The days of quantity are over. Today it’s all about quality.

As more companies strive to produce quality content that makes an impact, marketers are searching for inspiration to stand out from the crowd. A handful of organizations are leading the ranks in content creation—and are sharing actionable lessons with B2B content creators on how to produce the premium content needed to attract and impress target prospects, convert them into leads and customers, rank high on Google—and move the needle closer to marketing goals in the new year.

See what you can learn from TED, Netflix, Wikipedia, BuzzFeed and the New York Times.

TED: Tell Compelling Stories

If you do a Google search for “TED” and “success,” you don’t get a list of the company’s success stories. You get videos on success. That’s because TED has hosted more videos on the topic than anyone else. In fact, the organization has hosted more videos on most topics than anyone else. Starting with a single video demo of a compact disc in 1984, TED has grown into a video lecture juggernaut in the past three and a half decades. By September 2006, TED videos of talks by some of the world's greatest thinkers, leaders and teachers had reached more than one million views. By the fall of 2012, TED Talks celebrated its billionth video view. Over 130 countries and 1,200 cities have hosted TED events. Suffice to say, the company knows something about producing quality content.

TED Content Creation Tips

content-marketing-from-tedThe TED philosophy consists of one sentence: It’s about simplified, authentic storytelling. This dovetails with the TED mission: “Ideas worth spreading.” Marketers have a lot to learn from TED for producing any content, not just video lectures, including these four tips.

  • Big Idea. People remember things with big ideas, like memorable dialogue from hit movies (e.g., “I’ll be back!”). To leverage this tip, distill your big ideas into crystal-clear sound bites.
  • Compelling Intro. In talks, you’ve got 60 seconds to capture an audience’s attention. TED speakers avoid perfunctory, boring, predictable openings. They pleasantly surprise everyone by, for example, jumping right into a counterintuitive insight that flies in the face of current beliefs.
  • Recency = Relevancy. Recent research will get people’s attention and respect. What just-released report can you reference to prove your point?
  • Competitive Edge. The best TED talks contain unique ideas. Can you create content around a provocative premise that hasn’t been shared before? 

Learn From Netflix: Create Binge-Worthy Content

Netflix practically invented the phrase “binge-watching.” Over the years, the company learned the best way to attract and hold its audience’s attention is not to dribble out content like a TV soap opera, but to release multiple episodes all at once. Founded in 1997 and offered to Blockbuster for $50 million, the DVD-rental-turned-streaming service now has 104 million subscribers in more than 190 countries and a market cap of $69 billion. Netflix’s content budget for 2018 is expected to near the $13B mark. That allows the streaming giant to air 700+ shows, signaling: there’s new stuff coming out every single day!

Netflix Content Creation Tips

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Netflix offers subscribers a lot of original content comprised of series, feature films and documentaries. Moreover, there are no constraints; people are allowed to watch what they want when they want it. How does that translate for B2B marketers? Here are a few Netflix tips.

  • Create Original Content. Netflix’s biggest step was delivering original content by creating its own shows and movies. Being original means not copying others’ success. Think past the standard and do it differently.
  • Create Quality Content. People wouldn’t binge watch if the quality wasn’t there. The video streaming company has learned the art of accomplishing that goal as well, proven by the number of people who keep coming back for more. Are you producing the highest quality content?

Learn From Wikipedia: Grow a Content Tree

Say what you will about Wikipedia, but many Google searches end with Wikipedia as the top stop of page one. That’s because the digital encyclopedia created an ingenious content structure. Nearly every page, links to dozens or even hundreds of other pages. It consistently takes readers down the proverbial rabbit hole. Its content is designed to give readers easy access to deep and wide knowledge about anything they might want to know about anything. In this way, its content pillar approach is brilliantly effective.

Wikipedia Content Creation Tip

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Search engines are evolving, and so are their users. Simply tagging your content with isolated keywords won’t drive traffic to your website as it did in the past. To get visitors’ attention and optimize for rank, marketers have to produce engaging clusters of content on themes relevant to their audiences. To leverage this advantage, build a content pillar with themes, topics and subtopics.

  • Grow a Content Tree. Nearly every Wikipedia page has a hierarchy between themes, topics and subtopics—like a tree. The trunk is the main concept of a group of pages. The tree’s branches are the content themes that grow out of the main idea. Each branch sprouts leaves, which are the topics of each theme. Further, many topics will sprout smaller subtopics. Think of your content using this metaphor and create powerful content pillars that will capture readers’ attention and continue to expand and deepen your expert status on the subjects important to your industry.

Learn From BuzzFeed: Be a Data Miner

For a company that has a theoretical market value of about $1.5 billion, BuzzFeed doesn’t get a lot of respect from the traditional media industry. Many seem to view it as just a viral content factory of primarily cat photos and animated GIFs. But 200 million monthly visitors and about five billion video views prove the viral-hit media outlet is doing something right. Not bad for a company that started as a side project tracking viral content. One thing no one can deny is the company understands content and how it functions on the Internet (and how it goes viral) better than just about anyone in the media. By 2018, BuzzFeed News had won the National Magazine Award and been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Today BuzzFeed teams in 11 countries publish content on more than 30 platforms in seven languages.

BuzzFeed Content Creation Tips

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Take a page from BuzzFeed’s forte: Analytics. To measure the overall reach of the company, BuzzFeed looks at a combination of metrics that are available across platforms. One of them is content views of videos, articles, lists and illustrations, regardless of the platform on which it lives. Be like BuzzFeed and start measuring your content’s impact using these tips.

  • Be Pragmatic. Look at the metric(s) that help you achieve your objectives. Knowing what you’re trying to do or learn is the first step in figuring out what metrics to look at. For example, identify your KPIs in advance. Like BuzzFeed, you might want to use different metrics for different platforms and different kinds of content. This lets you learn and achieve different things with each platform and content type.
  • Trust the Data. Just because there’s a trending story in the news doesn’t mean it’s going to work for your audience. Use your data and analytics to, among other things, understand who your readers are and make sure the content you create is relevant to them.
  • Be Humble. Realize that data is best used for learning, not vanity. Ultimately, the reason to care about data is to learn something from it. Don’t use it for a “pat on the back”. Face the truth with honesty and humility, and use the analytics to improve your marketing campaigns.

Learn from the New York Times: Share Valuable News

Many believe newspapers are a dying breed. But that’s simply not true. Sales of some newspapers, like the New York Times, have never been higher. Before you say, “But that the Times,” consider that even The Gray Lady suffered a slump in the past decade. She pulled out of it thanks to diligent work by its professional and determined staff. Today, the NYT is nearing its goal of an $800 million digital business. It’s on track to hit $579 million in digital revenue this year—and $900 million by 2020.

NYT Content Creation Tips

content-NYTAt a time when news stories live and die within a few days (hours?), it’s important to stay on top of the latest discussions in your industry. Every company can become a news producer by reacting to news relevant to their industry. This will appeal to your target audience. As a bonus, Google ranks newer content higher in search results, so content on your latest industry news is a great SEO strategy, too. Here are a few tips from the NYT to become a news producer.
  • Find Unique Stories. Every day the NYT produces a new batch of headlines. How do readers choose what to click on? Your target audience faces the same dilemma. To make your content more attention-worthy, ask yourself: What’s new? What’s fresh? What’s original? What’s timely?
  • Spark a Reaction. The NYT has found that content performs best when it sparks a reaction. Are you willing to go for the shock, surprise or laugh?
  • Provide Actionable Information. The NYT sees success with content that provides readers with actionable information that will help them improve their lives. In what ways can you provide information that will help your audience?

With over one dozen tips from five of the world’s most successful content creators, you’ve now got a head start on becoming one of the best content producers in your industry in 2019—and beyond. Just remember to tell better stories, create binge-worthy content, grow a content tree, be a data miner and share valuable news.

Check out our free eBook on the ROI of content marketing to ensure your content is maximizing your investment.

The ROI of Content Marketing - Free eBook!

Karen Taylor
The Author

Karen Taylor

Karen Taylor is a professional content marketing writer with experience writing for over 100 companies and publications. Her experience includes the full range of content marketing projects — from blogs, to white papers, to ebooks. She has a particular knack for creating content that clarifies and strengthens a company’s marketing message, and delivers optimum impact and maximum results. Learn more at KarenTaylorWrites.com.
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