One of the most difficult things for marketers to do is to identify what types of digital content their target audience is actively searching for and how they’re going about their searches. While marketers have metrics and other numbers to empirically show which keywords, phrases and topics readers flock to most, these numbers give marketers little insight into the actual search habits of a typical consumer. And, as individuals who spend the majority of their days staring at computer screens and searching the web for interesting writing topics, it’s difficult to take one’s self out of the marketer mindset, and put themselves back into the consumer mindset.
When I find myself in this scenario, I imagine myself on Sunday morning with a fresh cup of coffee in one hand and my tablet in the other; then I ask myself, “where is the first place I navigate to on the Internet on Sunday mornings?” The answer, as many will attest, is not to navigate to my favorite brand’s website or blog, and in fact, the last things I want to be bothered with are advertisements and branded content.
Personally, I head right to the New York Times, then the Washington Post, spend a few minutes on sites like Politico and Politifact, hit up Flipboard and social media before heading to Netflix or calling it a day. What can I say, I’m what many would refer to as a “news hound” but consider this; my routine, which is about as set in stone as routines go, at no point shows me going to the websites of Enjoi, Samsung or T-Mobile—three of my favorite brands—to read any of their content.
Why? Because these companies’ blogs are either non-existent or too company focused to be appealing to the average user. And, here’s the thing about the average user, they’re exactly the prospects that you’re trying to convert into new customers.
While this may seem counter intuitive to what content marketers have been preaching for the better half of a decade, it’s not. The fact is you need content that is focused around your company and its products and servicers if you want to start ranking higher on search engines and increase your visibility. However, if your brand’s blog is all about itself, rather than its mission, then you’re going to be losing interest from those outside of your immediate sphere of influence. Furthermore, viral content or the content that has the potential to be widely shared, is rarely ever about the brand itself, its products and services or anyone inside the company for that matter.
Content that does get widely shared is content that is interesting, creates value for the reader, and plays on their interest rather than their pain points.
Consider AirBnB as a prime example of a blog that has the reader’s interest top of mind and provides top quality content to pull in readers outside of their immediate consumer base. AirBnB, while publishing articles on their success this past summer and the charity event they recently put on for San Francisco Firefighters, doesn’t overwhelm the reader with company focused content. Rather, as a travel and hospitality organization, AirBnB focuses a majority of their content on travel, authoring local and travel guides for major US cities that their customers frequent, and have even built out filters on their blog to help hide some of their more branded content. They also write blogs focused on interior design and do-it-yourself home projects.
This content is seemingly unrelated to AirBnB. The company is meant to help homeowners rent their rooms out (often) for weekend stays to customers who don’t want to stay at hotels. However in crafting this content, they’re attracting Internet users who are going to Google to search terms such as “What can I do while visiting Chicago,” finding their article “Local List: Exploring the Best of Chicago,” navigating to the AirBnB blog, and suddenly finding themselves considering AirBnB for their trip to Chicago. They’re expanding their reach through this content that seemingly has nothing to do with AirBnB, all while making their platform appeal to larger and larger audiences.
Starting a blog for your brand can be difficult. There are a lot of rules to follow to keep the search engines happy, many decisions to be made in voice and messaging, and a ton of content creation to take care of to stay competitive. However, if you’re looking to expand your reach and create a blog that is a destination all unto itself; it may be time to consider some content that is (seemingly) unrelated to your brand.