Do you remember when “hack” was slang for someone who did poor work? Today, the word has done a 180. It’s now used to reference a clever solution to a tricky problem (as the Urban Dictionary says).
If the tricky problem is content marketing, then what are the clever solutions used by the speakers at Content Marketing World? Here are 15 from those who were willing to share their hacks:
Speak the same language
My favorite time and budget saver is Acrolinx, a terminology management tool. When everyone agrees on the words we are going to use, it makes the entire process of creating content more efficient. And more speed means less cost for writing, editing, and translation. While I’ve used spreadsheets and tables in the past, having a tool to manage your brand language really helps everyone be consistent. And a consistent message is also good for your brand.
Don’t go for perfect
When I think of content marketing hacks, I think of how I can publish more and better content:
- Tools – I use Evernote to save links of the great posts I’ve read and categorize them for future use. I append the link with a sentence or two on the highlights.
- Done is better than perfect – We have a tendency to make sure everything is perfect before we publish, but search engines don’t care if your content is perfect. I’m not suggesting that you publish crappy content. Publish it then come back later and tighten it up or add a bit more context.
- Repurpose and reformat your content – We often publish free guides then break them into social graphics, social media posts, webinars, videos, and other forms of content. It saves time and presents the opportunity to do some internal linking and reach a variety of audiences.
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It’s my secret weapon … my content community. I’ve built an exceptional community in the content world through meeting peers and building Boston Content (a regional-based content marketer network). If I’m in a bind, I’ve never done something, or I’m simply struggling with the many little challenges that pop up in our business and need someone with whom to commiserate, I turn to these exceptional creatives, thinkers, and strategists passionate about content. I recommend you create your own content circle and help each other win.
We are always trying new tools and ways to optimize or extend our content to prospects, partners, and even our employees. Atomic Reach helps us produce better blog content to targeted audiences. SnapApp allows us to extend and repurpose existing content into polls, quizzes, and surveys. We’re leveraging BrightEdge to boost our SEO performance. And, we’re enabling our partners to share content to their customers via tools like Brainshark.
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A simple red pen. We all need to be better editors of our own content. I’m notorious for editing. I found a few years ago that people were giving me their content unedited because they knew I would. After that, I gave everyone their own red pen and set the expectation that I should only review their edited, final content.
Talk to a professional
Interviewing experts makes our content sound smart with only a little effort. Also, watch what Ann Handley does and steal it. A very reliable strategy.
Hang it out
Because we have a small team, we have to maximize our content creation efforts. We have a 30-minute Google Hangout every Friday on a specific topic. We leverage that to create blog posts, SlideShare presentations, videos, emails, and social media updates. This means that we can take a single conversation and turn it into a week of content for our marketing person, which is a lifesaver since the executive team rarely has time to give marketing content input daily.
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Count it down
I use Tomato Timer when I’m writing. It uses the Pomodoro technique, which is where you work in 25-minute intervals. When you are creating content it’s easy to lose track of time. If you are on the clock, you are more effective. When I start a post, I create a rough title and all the headings/sub headings first. Then I start filling out the content. If I get stuck along the way, I’ll start on another article. At all times, the clock is running!
Screenshots are awesome
As chief organizational ogre (COO) so much of my job involves communicating with staff to serve clients and motivate outstanding content production. A picture is worth a thousand words when providing feedback on content ideas, creating specifications for a custom content management system, etc. I love the online tool, Awesome Screenshot. It enables me to take a snapshot of my screen then mark up the screen with text, arrows, circles, boxes, etc. I save the image to my desktop and send it to staff.
Make it visual
I have two tools that I started using this year. Canva helps me with graphic design without using a graphic designer. It makes it easy to create professional-looking images for many uses with a simple interface. The other tool is Evernote. I’m a chronic note taker and this lets me keep everything organized and accessible wherever I am. I use it to take advantage of unexpected wait time to be productive.
Form helps function
Oddly enough, Google Forms has emerged as a real time-saver for members of our production team when it comes to recruiting for specific projects, soliciting consolidated feedback from multiple stakeholders, etc. It’s easy to set up and glean crucial information.
Take a trip
I like creating a mind map of content ideas because it allows me to explore which ones have potential, how far certain ideas can go, and then, which ideas are worth pursuing. It crystallizes the choices and the navigation process. It also makes for pretty impressive artwork. Just ask my mom.
Work on the road or in the shower
I capture every single content idea – the good and the bad – and triage later. For me, it’s a combination of Outlook Tasks, a Moleskine notebook that’s constantly in my suit jacket pocket, Evernote, Dial2Do while driving, and AquaNotes in the shower.
Don’t ignore the old and unused
My favorite content marketing hack is to take all the content you have laying around the business and repurpose it into content your audience actually wants. Executive presentations? Turn them into SlideShares and embed it with the speaker notes in an article. Boring customer videos? Transcribe them into customer-profile blog posts and embed the video. White papers? Summarize them into blog posts then link to the landing page. And my favorite hack of all? Cover any research that gets published on your industry, even when it’s from a competitor. Link and attribute to it, but cover it like a journalist might and you may find you can steal some of the traffic.
No hacks here (well, maybe one)
Hacks are mythical. Content marketing is just plain hard work. That said, one can maximize content mileage by understanding the fine art of repurposing. The ultimate productivity booster is digging into something truly relevant and helpful, doing the work it takes to create something epic, and subsequently, applying what you learned and are able to share in a great variety of forms to appeal to more people across a wider variety of media.
You can pick up more hacks from these and other experts at Content Marketing World 2015 September 8-11 in Cleveland. Register today and use code CMI100 to save $100.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).