Value content as you would a pizza

Content that matters starts with brainstorming.

Whether calling the shots from atop her digital marketing agency or weighing the merits of pizza, Jessica Figueroa takes on life with zeal. That’s especially true when creating content that matters.

The entrepreneur from El Salvador is a social media marketing and ads strategist. She works with brands in North, South and Central America, Spain and Australia.

“I’m passionate about creating communities for brands and delivering an engagement strategy that will move their audience,” Figueroa said.

Quality content informs and entertains readers, letting them come away with nuggets that can improve their lives.

“It provides value,” Figueroa said. “Engage with your audience. Have good data performance.

“Depending on your type of brand, this can have more elements,” she said. “You should always have in mind not only to consider what you want to say, but what your audience will value to know. Content is the voice of your brand. It should always be taken seriously.”

Know your why

The first step in creating quality content is knowing the why. What purpose will it serve? Does it address your audience’s wants and needs? Even before that, do you know your audience?

“The only way to create attractive content is knowing what moves your audience,” Figueroa said. “Establish key performance indicators. What will determine the success of the post: Engagement? Messages received? Phone calls received?

“Niching is important,” she said. “When you have limited resources, avoid digital noise. Identify your specific niche. Be specific. Remember: Niche to grow rich.”

If you wonder about your content’s value, ask your audience. You can poll them to death or simply have one-on-one conversations to find out what hurts and figure out how you can cure it.

“There are ways to ‘ask’ them,” Figueroa said. “This is by monitoring engagement. Try to engage in conversation with your audience. If they comment, keep the conversation going.

“Don’t forget about social listening,” she said. “This is where you get the key information about your audience behavior and interests — maybe even discover new needs. These insights will be very useful to create new quality content in the future.”

Like you talk

Make your content stand out by writing like you talk — maybe a bit more grammatically correct without the chewing gum. Everyone talks differently. Let your personality out and inject it into your creations.

“Visuals are key, but don’t over use graphic design,” Figueroa said. “Data has proven that the majority of people engage more with less altered images. Authenticity is always the best way to go. Be clear on your message. Avoid being salesy. Aim for authenticity.

“Use a ‘hook message’ as the first sentence,” she said. “Make sure the punch goes there. People might not read the whole thing. Make them at least leave with the most important message. Include a call to action to keep the engagement going. What do you want your audience to do afterward?”

Figueroa added that those using video on social media should try to keep it between 15 to 30 seconds.

The most basic content creation tool is between your ears. Let your imagination roam. Without that, any hardware or software you try won’t be worth a whole lot.

“For visuals, my personal advice is to create a free commercial-use photos bookmark library,” Figueroa said.

These are some of her favorite websites: Pixels, Unsplash, KaboomPics and StockVault.

Those who are not designers can still design using Canva and Easil.

To schedule posts, use Buffer and Hootsuite. SocialBakers has data resources.

Publicize well

Promote your content on whatever platforms you and your audience use. Announce your posts and follow up regularly after that. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come unless you tell them — and remind them — it’s there.

“Have empathetic thinking and ask questions,” Figueroa said. “It helps to discover new key behaviors.

“Add a call to action,” she said. “Invite readers to stay tuned. Give them a hint about future posts. Aim to build a relationship with your audience. What would you appreciate from a brand?”

To get inspiration for great content, look at the world around you, especially your audience. Everyone has a story waiting to be told. If you can relate to consumers, you can tell their stories and blend in how you and your products saved the day.

“Inspiration depends on your brand,” Figueroa said. These are her overall tips:

  • Have a list of brands that share your vision and analyze which ones have performed the best. It’s not about copying them. It’s about identifying what works and finding new ways to connect in your own way with your audience.
  • Identify mentors online. Follow them and keep yourself motivated.
  • Explore relevant hashtags and read what people are saying.
  • Old great posts: Past good performing content is great to create new content. It gives you a road to follow when you’re out of ideas.
  • Dare to ask your audience what they want to see from you.
  • Try to be reachable for your audience and make them feel important.

A big mistake in content creation is writing for you and not your audience. If you don’t have a north star to follow, you’ll get lost in the night, wasting your time and effort along the way. That’s lousy return on investment.

These are Figueroa’s content creation mistakes:

  • Not knowing your audience.
  • Not engaging and not listening to your audience.
  • Not having a clear goal.
  • Focusing on what you want to say and not what your audience wants to hear.
  • Not analyzing data results.
  • Being too salesy.
  • Not differentiating content across platforms.
  • Not having key performance indicators to measure success and return on investment.
  • Not having a content plan.

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.