Most companies follow a traditional path to content creation including brainstorming, drafting, editing, illustrating and publishing. Now that everyone is getting into content marketing, it is becoming harder and harder to stand out and earn the attention of your target audience.
This has worked for decades for the press—so why wouldn’t it work for you? Because the press was not competing with thousands of other newspapers publishing everyday about your very topic. Also, if you look at how the newspaper market has been doing in the last few years, and how smart bloggers have been overtaking their readership piece by piece, it doesn’t make you want to follow their practices.
So what’s a better alternative? How can the lean methodology help us with content creation? I’ll attempt to answer that in this post. Enjoy!
1. Participating & identifying trends in popular communities
The New York Times best-selling author Tim Ferris has always been very methodical when it came to both structuring his books and finding the best-selling titles possible. He actually used AdWords to A/B test possible titles and covers for the 4h workweek (read more about it here).
To some extent you can do the same thing and test your content concepts (or retrieve existing information) before you commit resources to fully build them. The easiest way to do that is to look at what people are already talking about or to engage them and see what gets the most traction to develop your content. For doing this I recommend joining, observing and participating in several communities:
Quora is full of people who could probably charge a lot of money for the information they provide(CTO’s, CMO’s, CEO’s etc), but they don’t, and instead share their knowledge for free. Their search engine is also very good. Type in any question or keyword and it will find related questions. The answers tend to be very in-depth and give you a ton of information from people with first hand experience. You can also subscribe to topics of interest (i.e your niche).
Yahoo answers is a dumbed down version of Quora. The answers tend to only be a few sentences long, but the activity and topics talked about are much broader. One good thing about Yahoo answers is that it ranks very highly in Google which you allows to get some traction and referral traffic fairly easily if you ask a question there.
Reddit is probably one of the strongest and most opinionated communities online. It also counts thousands of sub communities focused around your particular topic or niche. The learnings you can get from starting a discussion on Reddit, or by asking a question , are invaluable.
For smaller niche communities, you can simply use the power of Google to find discussions around the topic you’d like to cover.
2. Measuring traction & interest
Once you’ve identified the most related discussion topics on the content you’d like to build, and maybe stirred them closer to where you’d like to take your content, it is usually quite easy to measure the traction of a piece. Here’s what you can look at:
- The up/down votes
- Social shares
- Reactions & comments
- Overall velocity of the thread
By doing that you will learn the following things:
- What each community is sensitive to
- What angle you should take for your content (test several)
- What not to produce
You will also be able to collect a myriad of great tips and resources you can quote or reuse in your content. As a matter of fact I know most of our content ideas at Higher Click come from long responses on Quora these days.
Here are a few example of threads we derived a ton of great content from based on observing these metrics:
- How much responsibility do poor people have for their own poverty?
- What are the most impressive answers given by Siri?
- What are the best stories about people randomly meeting Steve Jobs?
Simply by curating and adding your own spin to most of these answers you can come up with pretty exceptional pieces of content!
3. Building & promoting the content
If you’ve reached that point, crafting the content should be fairly easy as you’ve had your brainstorming ideas validated by the community, and you even have several people who interacted with your idea already (if you didn’t, better pivot to another idea). You can now put the pieces together. Make sure that you put quite a bit of work into it and make sure that you add value when you write it.
As soon as you’re done writing it, simply go back to the communities you’ve polled people on, and post a link back to your piece of content for everyone to enjoy.
This may seem fairly simple but most people don’t do it. Doing this over simply drafting content gives you the following advantages:
- You can safely invest a large chunk of time building something awesome because you know people want it.
- You pre-build an audience for it, posting the link to the final content on these conversations that you’ve used to qualify, which will drive quite a bit of traffic.
- You earn links as you post back, which is good for your SEO.
- Quoting people, even from forums is nice Ego bait and pushes them to share it. (if they don’t just pm/email them and that should do the trick!)
If you have any comment on the process or if you think yours is better, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!