Guidelines for Choosing the Right Content Marketing Format

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It’s not just what you say online; it’s how you say it – or show it, as the case may be. If you want your content to be seen and widely shared, you need to present it in a way that conveys your message effectively. This may mean writing a traditional blog post, or it may mean presenting your content visually; it may even mean doing a bit of both. The format you choose depends on what you want to communicate and who you’re trying to reach. Here are some guidelines to help you choose the right format for your online content.

1) Make your point with a blog post

When you’re trying to persuade or enlighten an audience, especially about a new idea or a different way of seeing something, words can be the most powerful tools you can wield. And if your idea is compelling enough, you may need no more than a series of well-thought-out paragraphs to catch and keep an audience’s attention. Not sure the idea is enough to carry the post? Modify the format. Turn it into a list, for example. Some complain that “10 Reasons…,” “5 Ways…” and other lists are overused, but they’ve been shown to be deeply appealing. (Their appeal is wide, too; busy executives can quickly scan them for key takeaways while people who want more information can read through all the details.) For added interest, you can also embed visual or graphical elements, such as a short video of an expert commenting on your subject.

2) Show them “how to” with a video

Speaking of videos, there are times when it really is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you’re trying to explain how to use a hammer, for example, ten seconds of someone picking up a hammer and whacking a nail with it are worth far more than ten paragraphs of “Grasp the handle with your right hand if you are right-handed (or with the left if you are left-handed) and pick up the tool…” With a video, there’s less risk of ambiguity (grasp it exactly where on the handle?) or misunderstanding. It’s a great choice for showing how a product works or how to use it. Video is also a good choice for content that’s coming from someone with a particularly engaging style of talking or sharing information – such as the expert commenter mentioned in the previous paragraph. For these and many other reasons, video is becoming increasingly popular as a way to present content.

3) Sum it up in an infographic

Infographics are perfect for sharing quantifiable information such as percentages and other statistics. After all, why bury high-impact numbers in sentences and paragraphs when you can display them prominently as graphics? You may want to add a minimal amount of prose to provide context or commentary, but the general idea is to let the data take center stage. Also, posting a well-executed infographic on your own blog and then sharing it through other channels is a great way to get a lot of exposure for your content with relatively little effort.

4) Get the best of all worlds in a slide show

For those times when a post seems too wordy, but a video or infographic doesn’t seem like it’s saying quite enough, the just-right choice may be a slide show. Though they’re visual by nature, slide shows provide the flexibility to judiciously add verbal elements to underscore your message. For example, you can have a slide with a great image of your product, followed by a slide that highlights key data graphically, followed by a slide that displays a testimonial quote from a client. And because slide shows are resources that almost every company uses for presentations and other purposes, there’s a good chance you already have one that you can easily adapt to use as a post – or maybe even one that’s ready to go as is.

5) Combine for the best results

Combining different types of content in the same post can amplify the effectiveness of your communication, especially when the audience includes a variety of people who need to get their information in different ways. Visual learners, for example, will gravitate toward video and slide content, while verbal learners will want to read what you have to say. Anytime you can post something that includes several formats, you stand a better chance of getting your message across to more people. I mentioned earlier that you can add interest to a blog post by embedding a video in it; you can also embed a short series of slides or include an infographic. Try to choose material that’s complementary but that will also get key points across if it’s the only thing someone looks at. Some people simply won’t watch a video when they can read about something instead, while others are just the opposite. Why not appeal to both?

Just think how much time and effort you spend on coming up with the best topics and messages for blog posts and other online content. Why risk having it all go to waste because you didn’t put the message in the most effective format? Next time, when you think about what you’re going to say, plan for the best results by thinking about how you’re going to say it, too.

Learn more about all of our 6 Steps to Achieve Content Strategy and Marketing Success and how they can help you get more from your content marketing efforts.

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