Rebecca Flitton – Account Manager

Content. There we are, I’ve said the buzzword. If you’re wanting to play a drinking game, I’d maybe recommend every time I say the ‘C’ word to take a shot – though don’t play it at work of course… I wouldn’t want your P45 on my hands.

Having worked in the content industry for a number of years now, I’ve seen it change. I remember when doing a gentle bit of keyword stuffing was enough to get you ranking, and links were ten-a-penny. Then Google Panda and Penguin came along, and everyone had to take this whole content thing seriously. Fast-forward to 2018 and content is in a very different place to when I first entered the industry.

“It’s never been easier to create content, but never been harder to get attention from your audience”. A sharp quote from Steve Rayson of Buzzsumo at the recent Brighton SEO conference.

Sitting in the auditorium, quite honestly, I felt shocked at the statistics from BuzzSumo’s Content Trends Report 2018. They evaluated 100m articles published in 2017 and the results will make all content marketers groan.

Only 5% of content got more than 343 shares, whilst 50% of content reviewed got four shares. Yes, just four! But really, should we be surprised by this? We’ve all seen the Facebook and Instagram algorithm changes as they prioritise personal content over publishers, making it even harder for our audience to see our content in the first place.

A statistic I was prepared for, however, was 70% of content got 0 backlinks last year. Link-building, especially quality link-building, takes a lot of time, effort and perseverance. It’s also one of the first things that can be wrongfully pulled from a content marketing strategy when the results don’t come flooding in.

Content producers need to add on another thing to their checklist – is this piece something people will want to link to? Consider why they would want to link to it, is it a juicy stat people need to reference or have you done some in-depth research on a confusing topic. It’s so easy for people to just write an article themselves these days, they’re much more likely to link to and share research or referenceable content.

The other interesting topic is dark social, something that is becoming more and more important to consider in your strategies. 17% of people get their industry news updates from dark social and workplace favourite, Slack. So, although your content might not “appear” to be getting much engagement, in reality, it might be getting pinged around WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

So, what can you do?

    • Focus on your niche
      Do you get loads of interaction on Instagram but then not so much on Facebook? Be the best you can on the social channel you excel at. Remember your audience is likely to be different on every platform, 81% of Pinterest users are female, whilst 71% of Reddit’s audience are male. They’re both likely to want to see grilled cheese recipes, but in a different way.
    • Be the first to the party, or don’t come at all
      You have to be quick if you want to publish about trends or hot topics. If you’re not posting fast enough, statistics show your content will get lost in the plethora of published articles. Your time is better spent investing in an evergreen research piece. That said, if you’ve something new or different to say on a trend, it’s still worth publishing.
    • Change your clickbait tactic
      We get it, we’ve all been there and clicked on an article that promised to give us ‘The secret to weight loss through eating donuts by this simple trick…’ but using clickbait could actually be affecting your ability for people to find your content. Buzzsumo found headlines withholding or exaggerating information to be receiving massively less engagement compared to previous years. News site, Buzzfeed as one example, is 60% down on social engagements in the last 3 years.
    • Appeal to the subconscious mind
      Remember that grilled cheese recipe I mentioned? Another talk that stuck out for me at Brighton was Danny Richman’s ‘How to use Emotional Goal Optimisation (EGO) To Increase Rankings, Clicks & Conversions’. Danny found that appealing to the brain’s limbic system had a profound effect on digital marketing. For PPC, he saw a 59% improvement on an EGO version compared to the test. You have to consider yourself what you’d want to achieve from reading your content. Grilled cheese recipe? Nobody really cares that it’s great for beginners. Impress your friends and feel proud of your chef skills.

So, how many shots have you taken? On my count that’s 20. Don’t blame me for the hangover.