AMA: 6 Answers to Your Essential Content Questions
The top questions and answers everyone needs to know to create better content.
Creating valuable content via blogs and other multi-channel avenues is a key way to grow brand awareness, attract desired customers, and, obviously, tell some awesome stories about the place you work.
Since March 4 is National Grammar Day, we decided to borrow Reddit’s AMA format to answer some of the most pressing content questions we get from our clients and peers.
1. How long should a blog post be?
Don’t overdo it! Blogs should be smart, brief, and informative. We’re talking about 300-600 words. (Though, to be fair, for this one we might be breaking our own rules, but it’s for a good cause!) These aren’t college term papers or deeply reported features that need to include a million sources and go in-depth on each and every possible subject.
While a hefty, 1,000-word post may be ideal for SEO, it might not be possible to produce that sort of length with minimal editorial resources. That length also doesn’t necessarily allow for a blog to be nimble, or capture a wide range of subjects across multiple days. Readers should be able to leave these relatively bite-sized bits of content knowing something they didn’t know before they clicked, and hungry for more.
2. How do I define my audience?
It’s crucial to establish just who you’re writing for and to make sure your angle has a real purpose for the right people.
You can use analytics to locate and target a niche, which is good to boost the specific profile of the blog. But if you’re only writing based on raw data, it can suck the soul out of the opportunity to engage in this creative endeavor. That doesn’t mean to abandon targeted thinking entirely. You should still establish a reader’s persona.
Who would find this bit of content interesting? What objections would they have to your points? How informative would it be to them? For example, marketers will want to read blogs about digital media topics, while PR professionals might want to find out insights on media outlets preferences or trends.
Establishing a persona, even if it changes from post to post, will give you a clear editorial path and subconsciously help build trust in the mind of the reader.
3. How important is a consistent tone across content?
Tone is important to establish an identity and a sense of thought leadership. Still, consistency largely depends on what you hope to achieve with the blog.
If you want a comprehensive peek into the awesome culture of your company, it should probably be a bit more casual. If you want to be business-first to capture the Forbes and Fortune types, definitely go more formal and factual.
The great thing about a blog is that it can be all those things in one — a grab bag that captures the multi-functional strengths of the business projected toward the desired audience.
There are still some limits. Details like language that is too colloquial, condescending, cocky, or flip could be off-putting to the reader and negatively impact the image of the brand. Generalizations or stereotypes should also not be used, and direct attacks on competitors are just not a good look.
4. Is style important?
In terms of consistency, style is where it’s at.
Almost all news outlets and journalists adhere to what is known as “AP Style,” with a few following “Chicago Style.” You can use these, or set your own internal standards so that you free up the blog to be multi-functional, but still maintain some uniform guidelines when it comes to spelling, naming conventions, punctuation, capitalization and much more.
5. Should I repurpose content to make it evergreen?
Coming up with new content ideas and actually producing material on a regular basis may seem impossible. But it is possible to constantly drive more traffic and convert more leads, so utilize everything you’ve got. If your marketing team is in full force, you should be able to remix, refresh, and repurpose content for any number of ends.
Say you’ve written a report and are looking to branch that particular piece out — use the data for a new video, pop out some percentages into an infographic, or shuffle the main points into a printed one-pager. The bottom line is that a good report — or any piece of content for that matter — should be malleable.
If you’re unable to filter a report into multi-functional channels, then your best bet is to go back to the drawing board on that report draft. Refresh your content with updated information, break down key takeaways that link back to the original report, or continue to follow up with additional angles that spring from the initial piece’s ideas.
6. What is a good length for a meta description?
Search engine algorithms are finicky and constantly changing, but it’s still worthwhile to beef up the best kept editorial secret of them all: the meta description. It’s the one place that you can use to juice your SEO mojo just a little bit more.
The sweet spot is about 155 characters to summarize a page’s content, and be sure to pack in as many keyword terms as possible.
Search engines like Google use click-through-rates (CTR) to determine quote-unquote “good” results, so the more people that click on your result, the better chance you have for the search engine to boost your pages rank in their results.
Establishing a robust content strategy is a great way to increase SEO and create a history of thought leadership for businesses. Above features just a few questions and answers, so be on the lookout for more on N6A’s blog as content continues to evolve.
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