Are you using a data-driven tool to answer the biggest question on your mind? There is a TON of trash content on the web… content which falls flat, leaves site visitors feeling empty, or is simply not related. Sometimes it feels like 20% of the writers are actually coming up with solutions that customers want to read about and the rest are just copying them.
Do you know why there is so much derivative content on the web? It's because too many people are trying to guess what audiences really want to know. It's much easier to recombine, or even regurgitate, someone else's content rather than coming up with something new.
Now there's nothing wrong with repeating your own message across channels. If you have a set of core messages you want to send, repeating one of the main points once a week is a good thing. It keeps the message fresh in the mind of your readers after they've gone off and distracted themselves with a thousand other pieces of content. Creative repetition is different than copying. But if you want to create perennial content, or wrap your message in something that grabs attention, you need to do some research.
Research is actually one of the most fun things we do for these posts, but research is boring for a lot of writers. It doesn't have to be. The first place to start for good research isn't necessarily a Google search. It's hanging out where your audience is and listening to what they have to say.
People love to complain on the internet, and will often ask the same questions again and again within a niche. Finding those questions and thoroughly answering them is an excellent way to generate strong content. It's something directly relevant to the audience, rather than something that you think they want to hear.
What if it's a question that's been answered a thousand times before though? It could mean one of two things. Either the person that asked hasn't done their research, or the answers they're finding aren't satisfying their needs. That's where you, the content marketer, can step in with a solution with an excellent piece of content.
Where are the best places to look for these questions? My personal favorites are Reddit, Quora, and niche forums. This may seem counterintuitive. These platforms aren't exactly friendly to marketers, especially Reddit. But for research, there are few places on the web as rich for content ideas as these are.
It's quite easy to make an account on Reddit just for research. If you've never used Reddit before, it is basically a set of niche forums on topics that anyone chooses to create. Do a search for one of your keywords and see which subreddits pop up, then go into the subreddits to see what people are talking about.
A good place to find frequently asked information in a subreddit is along the right-hand sidebar. Look for any FAQs or wikis that the community has developed. You should find quite a lot of good information just in these sections alone. You can also just read the subreddit over the past few months and get a pretty good idea of what people are asking questions about.
A word of warning though: don't rush off to make a piece of content that answers a question then run back and tell the subreddit about it. Most of Reddit is highly anti-marketing and it's a quick way to get banned!
There are lots of digital marketers out there who are following the pack. They take a look at their keywords and immediately fire up a brainstorming session where they’re trying to come up with the answer to ‘what’s next?’ The content calendar (if there is one) becomes filled with ‘feel good’ articles, rather than proven content.
Learn more about Content Marketing, Content Intelligence, Content Marketing Artificial Intelligence on our blog.
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