The Secrets to Creating Content that Cuts Through
“If you going to create content and you’re worried that you’re not going to get it perfect, well, you’re never going to start… So just start – it is the most important thing you can do.” Jeff Bullas
In today’s business landscape, social media is a driving force, and content is the critical component of any digital product. It not only informs and adds value for your audience, but the right content also has the power to foster relationships with the right people.
Achieving cut through on social media with our content is now harder than ever before. There are so many platforms, so much to know and even greater competition. We can spend a huge amount of time on a social media strategy without result.
Successful engagement isn’t immediate, it is built over time.
Getting a content strategy correct, is challenging for many. And the question is no longer whether companies create content, it is now how well they do it.
According to Forbes, Jeff Bullas is the world’s top social marketing talent and digital marketing expert. BizHUMM refers to him as the world’s number one business blogger.
Jeff’s journey started in 2008, and a year later he was creating content, a community, and conversations about social media. His mission is to inspire and educate people on “How to win at business and life in a digital world”. He has spoken across the globe and continues to successfully help his clients – and his 700,000+ followers – to grow, both as entrepreneurs, and as people.
Your influence determines your income.
In a recent episode of The YES Zone LIVE, Jeff and I discussed the secrets to creating content that cuts through, covering the questions we hear most from our clients.
1. What do we need to do to create a targeted content strategy?
Jeff states that “the number one thing is to know your customer and understand their pain points.” Knowing what our customer needs allows us to generate content to target their problems. Understanding our ideal audience ensures we can provide solutions.
It is also essential to “know where they hang out.” With the various platforms we have available to us, we must know the best format to engage.
“The challenge is that we all think we’ve got a product. That everyone is going to fall in love and buy it in truckloads. The reality is that sometimes customers don’t do that. In fact, a lot of times they don’t.” Jeff Bullas
Inspiration and entertainment are two critical components of successful content. In Jeff’s words, “We’re not all funny, and we don’t need to be – there’s a whole range of things we can do… as long as we’re entertaining and inspiring.” With that in mind, it is clear there should be an element of storytelling in what we create, requiring relevance and authenticity. This is attainable with an element of deep thinking and research.
I asked Jeff his thoughts on length of posts and blog posts also. He advised to experiment with different lengths; he has written blogs anywhere from 200-300 words, to 5,500. It is dependent on the platform, audience and how you are looking to repurpose the content.
“Less is more. Keeping it simple takes time and effort.” Jeff Bullas
2. What is the critical information that should be included in our online content?
One thing you must focus on is a headline that immediately captures attention. Jeff spoke of an online media site he’d had experience with: “they had editors who, as part of their job requirement, was to write twenty headlines for every piece of content.” The purpose was simply to see what worked best. Profit through process.
Determining what does work however is a hurdle within itself. Moving back to your audience’s pain points is a good place to start brainstorming. Jeff advised that listicles are a good way to spark curiosity in a reader, such as The Top 10 Tools to Elevate Your Sales.
Once the attention is captured, it is imperative to maintain it. As Jeff told me “The purpose of the first line is to get the reader to move to the second line, and so forth.”
Jeff also believes that controversial can be good – and he speaks from experience! On LinkedIn in 2014, he posted an article called Why You Should Forget Facebook. With 1000 comments and over 300,000 views, it became the top LinkedIn post globally for a week! Though he does warn that controversial headings are difficult to predict. As he states “You can’t plan viral. Experiment with what works.”
A call to action inspires people to take action. Prompt your audience to move one step closer to your business – much easier to do if the reader is entertained.
3. What role does SEO play in social media?
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation. Simply put, we are optimising our content so it ranks high in search terms on Google. Jeff separated social media, advising that SEO is applicable to a website, blog or YouTube. He says this because social media has the ability to drive traffic to your website or blog.
SEO has changed over the years as social media has become more prevalent. The role of social media for SEO is to increase attention to your content, which then communicates to Google that your content is working. Content creates context.
The number one rule of SEO “the more people that link to you, and the higher authority of the site, tells Google that your content is important.”
The statistics speak for themselves: 50% of the traffic to Jeff’s site is from a search engine. He warns though, that this is important, “it is a long game and results aren’t generated quickly – patience is key!”
There is software that can be utilised to determine what your ideal audience is searching for. There are keyword research platforms that can reveal the top-ranking words and phrases. This level of research is in-depth, but can assist immensely.
Furthermore, Jeff feels that social media and SEO are critical for online success in their own different ways. When considering SEO, it is important to apply this optimisation to your own website. You own your website and have full control of it’s content. You don’t have anywhere near the same level of control of the social media platforms, therefore it is even more important on social media, that your content is very targeted and of high quality. To drive traffic to your website, SEO is a game changer – and as Jeff states, “Facebook can’t shut down your website. Focus on the platform that you own, not the one that you rent.”
4. What are your top tips for engaging with your ideal audience?
From a targeting perspective, we want our content to engage the ideal, but almost repel the non-ideal. Jeff believes that there are two key action points:
– Test different platforms. Of course, there are demographics that show there are different users on TikTok to Linked In, so determine what works best for you.
– Test different types of media. For example, some people want to watch a video on YouTube, some want to attend a webinar, others want to read. With this in mind, you need to be ubiquitous on different platforms, you also need to provide it on different types of media.
Jeff’s advice: “Be everywhere as much as possible.” If you host a podcast, you can be creating three types of media! It can be recorded in video, audio and can be turned into a transcript, reaching many media preferences efficiently and effectively.
5. How do you think social media changes the dynamic between business and clients?
There was research completed years ago as social media started to emerge. If people saw you once or twice, their trust factor was around 5%. If seen five to seven times, the trust factor increases immediately to 50% or more. In other words, digital and social media has provided an opportunity to not only connect, but build trust.
Keep in mind, 60-70% of a buyer’s journey is now done via social media and digital research, before they engage with you directly.
“Social and digital media has become the way to play.” Jeff Bullas
6. How do you segment your audience on social media platforms?
Social media platforms keep changing the rules; there was a way to automate segmentation of an audience many years ago, however now it has become more of a manual process, requiring research for your ideal.
Jeff advised that “one of the most powerful ways to segment an audience on social media is Facebook, because it’s got the most granular information about us as humans.” Facebook contains easily accessible information on posts and comments you’ve made, who you follow and like, who your friends are and where you went to school.
Jeff believes that the most effective way to achieve successful, effective targeting across social media is by paid advertising. It allows you to narrow down to a deeper audience, and test whether an idea or message resonates. He succinctly states the reality of segmentation on social media; “Do not assume. Don’t assume that your customer is your customer, because you don’t know really know until they actually do one thing – and that’s buy from you.”
Hashtags also play a role in targeting. Exposure can be optimised through “riding a trend”, involving using a viral hashtag to engage with a greater audience. They can be hit and miss, but experimentation is valuable here also. To determine the best tool for this, research options, recommendations, and reviews.
Keep in mind that it is difficult to create content for more than one target market; the messaging must be clear and congruent.
A confused mind says no.
7. Do you believe that social media increases lead conversion? Why?
Being seen on a range of different platforms and touch points creates trust and credibility. What is also noticed by an audience is your number of followers and the engagement. A credible following increases interest from other users. Social media increases lead conversion by improving credibility.
8. What sort of ROI can we expect when our content strategy is perfected?
The only way to discover the ROI is by testing. Consider how to maximise clicks; for example, you may find that one headline converts at 7%, yet another 2%. There is no perfect strategy, however you can optimise your strategy through testing. The smallest difference can determine everything.
9. What are your top three tips for ensuring success through social media?
– Build a sizeable audience.
– Build an engaged audience. To determine if you’re in the right direction, research those you know are being innovative.
– Invest in paid social media campaigns. The reality here is that organic social media is difficult to break through the other content, because the algorithms are only designed to help the platform, so testing through paid advertisements is a good way to gauge success.
If social media is based on storytelling and authenticity, Jeff has mastered the power of vulnerability.
Asking Jeff his thoughts on more personal content, he divulged that one of the reasons he started his blog was after his business and marriage failed and he was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. With time on his hands, he researched and reflected and discovered social media. He is grateful for the pain that happened, because otherwise he wouldn’t have stumbled into the path that almost chose him.
As I write about engagement now, what a privilege it was to be able to engage through The YES Zone with Jeff.
To view The YES Zone LinkedIn LIVE with Jeff Bullas and I, click here.
If this article has sparked something inside you, reach out to me straight away at email@example.com. Let’s chat asap!