4 Ways to improve your content

There’s a lot of bad advice about content out there (overly simplistic and more often than not just clickbait). I’ve broken down a few sure-fire ways to improve the content that you’re making and some areas you should definitely be looking into to help improve your work.

This is for people that are already creating (or looking to create) original content. This is not for people that take other people’s content and looking to leverage it for their own use — if this is you then there’s no point in reading further.

1. Story-telling

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Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

For some reason, this isn’t at the top of every list that you see. And it’s crazy. 
 No matter what form of content you’re creating (videos, picture, graphics or text) you NEED TO TELL A STORY. You need to be able to convey a message — otherwise, who cares? The majority of content that exists simply exist to fill space — it’s there to play nice with the algorithms. That makes zero sense.

It doesn’t matter if your content is a photo, it needs to tell a story. Yes, it’s difficult to do so when it’s a static image, but there are ways to imply story, tension or purpose within a photo by introducing different elements into a photo (maybe a sign of change over time, two objects that don’t typically go together or diverting the eyes to a particular focused element in the scene).

If you take the extra beat (or two) to focus on telling a story (no matter how simple the story may be), you instantly elevate the content to another level (or at the very least above bland content). There are dozens of great (and free!) resources online that teach you how to do this.

At the end of the day, it’s the story that you’re telling that gives people a reason to care, to pay attention maybe even engage. If there’s one thing to remember from this whole article, it’s storytelling.

2. Simplification

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Photo by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash

Can content do a lot? Sure!

Can it help with awareness, engagement and conversion? Yup!

Can it do all of it at the same time? No chance.

One of the main issues I see constantly is brands trying to do it all. And when it doesn’t work, proclaim to the world that social media doesn’t work (and then usually they say that it’s pay-to-play only but that’s a story for another time).

When it comes to content, it’s important to understand why you’re doing it. Having some sort of strategy as to what it’s supposed to achieve will help dictate what type of content to produce and what the narrative of the content is. As you can imagine, a story created to reach as many people as possible is going to look dramatically different from a story that is meant to convert.

Far too often, brands create content and then litter it with way too many call-to-actions (tag a friend, subscribe to our email list, click on the link and buy X for a limited time, etc.). I get it, you have a job to do, but by doing everything at the same time you end up achieving nothing in the process.

Figure out what you want to do, why you want to do it, whether people want what you’re offering and finally how you’re going to do it. There is no shortcut to figuring this out (you only get faster at identifying these things through practice).

Step back, make a plan, and then create.

3. Optimise

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Photo by John Baker on Unsplash

Lazy marketing doesn’t work. It’s tough enough trying to stand out in a crowded space, but auto-uploading everything? That’s the biggest waste of content sin out there.

You’ve probably seen this, but just scrolled right past it — it’s when lazy marketers upload the same piece of content across all the social media channels without thought as to how it may look to the consumer. Often you’ll see images that are cropped strangely, words that are cut of due to image sizes, videos that cut off earlier than expected or even media that didn’t upload at all. It’s a truly sad state.

It happened because it’s the easy way out — there are many tools out there that were created to save time. However, it doesn’t properly take into account that different platforms have different media limitations (a video on Facebook can be much longer than the default 15s of Instagram). It’s the easiest way to identify a poor marketing team in a company. Worst of all, it’s sloppy and a total waste of (potentially good) content.

You spend hours creating content, only to have it go to waste when it doesn’t upload properly to a social channel. Take the extra time to think about how your audience will interact with the content (depending on the channel). Something that works on Facebook, won’t necessarily work on Twitter or Instagram. However, you might be able to repurpose it all to make it work. It just takes time.

If you can’t be bothered to create content that works, why should your audience spend their time even looking at your subpar content?

4. Mining for clues

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

For this part, we’ll have to make the assumption that you have been creating original content for a while and already doing the above 3 things. You want to improve your offering (constantly improving) and find ways to better engage your audience. What you want to do is to start taking a hard look at your data.

Create content with a purpose (what is it trying to achieve) and look at the data to see if you’re able to (or not) do what you intended the content to do. More often than not, you’ll come across some ideas as to what’s working or what’s not working. But it’s very hard to do — it’s not black and white.

What’s useful is coming up with different hypothesis while you’re creating content that will help you make a decision as to whether something is working or not.

For example, if you’re creating content with the intention of converting the audience you want to set up metrics to track everything, but have an idea as to what happens when some metrics hit or miss completely. If the content is able to hit the expected views, engagement and conversion (let’s just take these three for the time being) then you’re doing something right, and you should look into improving the numbers while creating similar content. If you’re only able to hit view and engagement but far off in conversions, it may be that the content you’re creating is too generic (even if entertaining) but not clear as to why people should be clicking/buying. If on the other hand, you have low views but high conversion, you have managed to strike a chord with your audience (likely a very specific audience) and your goal for content is to make it hit a larger/boarder group.

You need to be careful when creating content and setting up measurable KPIs that can guide you in the future. Too reactive and it’s hard to really know what’s happening or how to evolve over time — you will end up creating ‘trendy’ content that might consistently get you view but not much else (you will also likely become more and more generic).

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Are you creating the right content? Does it do what you want it to do? What areas might you be struggling with?