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Many businesses see content as a bugbear, as an item on the agenda purely for SEO rankings or as a tactic for better paid search results. Businesses often ask the question why is it important and why do they need to spend time and money on a blog or other content dissemination channel, why not just spend more on search advertising or SEM?

The reason is that content is becoming an ever increasingly important generator of client streams. Much like PR in the days of print, good engaging content is what’s leading many clients to your door without them ever touching search channels.

But many businesses continue to get content wrong. Five things to keep in mind when creating content should include the following:

Who is it for?

It’s crucial to differentiate between your industry and your clients, a differentiation many get wrong. Being seen as a thought leader within your industry has its own merits, but if you’re creating content to draw in more clients make sure it goes to the right people. Creating content that is going to be of interest to others in your industry is one way of getting high rankings / follows / Likes – but if they’re simply from others in your industry, they’re never going to turn into customers. It’s good to keep in mind the channels your customer use to find you such as search, email (newsletters etc), through networks and contacts and of course reading content on blogs, websites, etc. This also affects the style of your content – prospective customers will require you to present information in laymen’s terms, while still sounding knowledgeable.

Distribution Channels

It is then important to find distribution channels to get your content in front of your customers such as social, newsletters, blogs, etc. You need to get your content viewed in places where your customers are going to look for news, information, business assistance and so forth. Getting potential customers to like/watch/follow is the trick and this is best done by appearing as a thought leader through helpful, engaging content. Remember that no-matter how many Facebook Likes you have, your fans will never see any of your posts on their news feed if they’re not engaging with your Facebook page. Similarly, many Twitter followers will organise their followings into lists – if your not on a list, your tweets are possibly just disappearing into the ether. Use a free on-line service such as twitonomy to check how many of your followers have put you on a list.

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Quality not Quantity

Information or entertainment that people can use is where it’s at. Twitter especially has become a great tool for finding interested parties and delivering content to them. Yet, there are still businesses who think that having a tweet or more a day, is crucial, and in so doing, clutter their tweet stream with superfluous junk that will see their followers unfollow them or leave them off their most viewed lists. Do not tweet for the sake of tweeting if it means you’re going to be posting about your day, what day of the week it is or how the weather looks from your window. Deliver meaningful content.

Build relationships not sales leads

As businesses change from sales forces to creating relationships this becomes increasingly important. People don’t want to do business with strangers, they want to do business with partners, and social media has created the platform and need for business to provide a means for customers to ‘get to know you’.

Businesses who still use the old models and use social media simply as a sales tool are going nowhere, audiences need to engage and enjoy what you’re doing or else you’re simply handing out flyers in the street. Offer genuine, meaningful advice and information or assistance as well as feedback to build rapport with potential customers.

Make sure it leads back to you

As content becomes ever more important to bring visitors it creates more avenues that used to be almost solely the domain of search, search engine optimisation and search engine marketing. Now however, more and more people are finding the content they want, through following, liking, etc. and from the content they find, go looking for the company website.

Weather you mention your brand name, twitter handle or any other part of your business in your content, make sure people can always find you regardless of how many times your content gets retweeted, reposted or requoted and redistributed. Let others spread your message for you, but don’t let them remove you from the message. Including quotes or proprietary statistics/numbers is one way to move along with your content, as these need to be referred back to the original source, regardless of how the content has been reworked.