What’s your content strategy?

This article originally appeared on DigiServed blog.

Content marketing is the most commercial trend in digital marketing. With traditional marketing becoming less and less effective, marketers are now focusing on communicating directly with their customers. It is clear that content marketing is the future, with 89% of content marketers agreeing that it works. But what exactly is content marketing? And what can you do to make your readers share your content and become your own content marketeers?

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience and, ultimately, drive profitable customer action.

You can have a well crafted article for your brand, for example, after buying a blog post from a professional writer. Is having this great article going to be enough to encourage your visitors to share and allow it to go viral?

You need a bit more than just quality content in order to engage and convert your audience.

● You need a responsive audience

● Serious skills in content promotion

Here are a few ways that you can achieve this.

1. Make it easy to share

2 or 3 clicks, or having to search for your social sharing buttons can be too much for your users. Your buttons should be clearly visible.One of the best ways to find what works best for your audience, is to test different placements on your blog. Two great areas to try include the very top, or the side, allowing your buttons to stay visible while you scroll down.

Another thing you may not pay much attention to, is your sharing statistics. Nobody will share content that has not been shared by other people as well. Lead the way by inviting your colleagues, friends, and of course, yourself to share first.

Another great way to simplify sharing is “tweetables”. Quotes or statistics work well.

Quick tip: To add sharing buttons like the above, tools like SumoMe allow you to add social sharing buttons to your site and the highlighter app allows your readers to easily Tweet quotes from your posts.

2. Just Ask

Unexpected, yes, but it works. Tweets that ask for a retweet get 51% more retweets than those that do not! Offering your readers sharing options is a great way to start, but not the only way to boost engagement. Another great way to encourage your readers to share is to prompt them! They may need a little extra encouragement and one of the best way to do just that, is to remind them with a call to action.

● End each post with a call to action: If they made it to the end, they are more likely to have liked the article and will be more than happy to thank you for the value that you have offered them.

● Politely ask to share them to share with their friends or followers: Not doing so will be a wasted opportunity.

● Having more sharing options available at the end of the article will allow your readers to take immediate action, resulting in an increase in social shares from your readers.

If these tips are not enough, you can reach out to specific supporters or readers who may have missed your post, give them a heads-up and ask them to share the content if it is to their liking. Do avoid begging strangers to promote you, it looks desperate.

3. Use Images

Images are not just a great way of creating new forms of content for your blog, they are an important part of increasing social shares. Including images in your blog articles, is important because most social sites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest use the main image of your post in shared content. Tweets with images are 94% more likely to be shared, and photos on Facebook get 53% more likes.

But there are a few things that you should keep in mind. Simply placing a random image will not cut it: Visual element plays a big role in getting the attention of users in social media.

● Choose engaging, high quality images

● Larger images work best

● Images should communicate the key messages of your post. If your post is about mobile design, an image of someone using a tablet would work well.

● Although stock images are great, do not always go for the obvious.

Like your content, your images should be easy to share. Use pinnable images in your post. Twitter cards are also a great way to include the media of your post, in the tweets that are generated from your content. Or you can simply use a tool that simplifies image sharing, like the free image sharer app.

4. Reward them

When sharing tools and prompting users is not enough to increase your engagement, you have to consider the fact that your audience is not seeing the value in the content. If this is the case, and you still want to see an increase in social shares, consider rewarding your readers for taking action.

There are many options available that do not include cash from giveaways, and offering to reveal hidden content in exchange for social shares. In other words, users can be rewarded with access to a key piece of your article or gain access to a downloadable file for sharing your content. Files can include white papers, ebooks, or podcasts. Make sure that you are are revealing has real value and does not disappoint them. Giveaway and Reward Tools:

Rafflecopter: a great blog tool for launching and managing giveaways

Cloudflood: Freebie tool

Social Locker: a free wordpress theme that simplifies exchange for an action

In case a giveaway is not exciting enough for you, a contest may be more up your alley. Contests can be a great opportunity to challenge your audience to share your content, offering the winner a prize.

Remember to thoughtfully to comments, and to have a thank you page for those who do share your content. It may not initially sound important, but it is all a part of building long lasting relationships with your readers.

5. Reach out to influencers

Compile a list of bloggers and influencers relevant to your industry or interest, reach out to them individually, introducing yourself and content. Trying to do this blindly will result in wasted time, target specific and relevant people.

How can you effectively approach influencers?

Start by sharing their content first. Do not just retweet posts, but personalize them by adding your thoughts and comments to each tweet in order to get noticed! Follow that up by finding content that they would value and tag them. After repeating this 2 to 3 times, and establishing some level of trust, start bringing their attention to your own content and asking their opinion rather than a direct share request. Remember to add the usernames associated to any specific bloggers, resources, or services, increasing your chances of gaining even more exposure.

A round-up is another great idea. Post an article that includes a few pieces from some of the influencers that you love. It can be a list of resources, like a guide or simply a favorites of the week or month on a specific topic. Remember to link them back, the more links, the better. Hopefully they will notice you!

Final Words

Today, we discussed tactics to help you get your content shared, but do not forget the prerequisite is to have amazing content. Great content is the first step to creating interest of any kind, without it people will not read, or share your content resulting in wasted effort.

If you are providing your readers with valuable content, investing the time to implement some features and promotional strategies mentioned above should result in a boost in shares and traffic to your blog or site. Looking forward to reading about your experience and more suggestions in the comment box below.