If you’ve been reading recommendations on how to conduct your content marketing campaign over the last year, you’ve probably heard the news: long-form content is the king. Bigger and better content delivers a more specific message and useful advice to the audience. As a result, it attracts more attention, comments, likes, and shares on social media platforms.
The main message is the same as it always has been: if you want to get attention in the online world, you have to write content that’s substantially better than what everyone else in the niche is offering. It seems like many content marketers have gotten the message, so we keep seeing gigantic pieces of content all over the web.
That’s cool, but, we need to understand that long-form content is also a potential pitfall. It can easily become repetitive and extremely boring.
Ask yourself: what if you make significant investments of time and money into a lengthy piece of content, but it turns out your audience doesn’t care about the advice it provides? There’s only one way to avoid such situation, and includes a single step you need to infuse in between the idea generating and content creation process. It’s called validation.
Does validation involve more investments? It doesn’t have to. You can make it as complicated as you want it to be, but let’s assume that you’re a reasonable person who always opts for simplicity. You’ll appreciate the following simple tips that help you validate your content idea before you approach the creation process.
#1. You Can Skip Doing Your Own Validation if You Focus on What’s Popular
Validation is not such a complicated task when you understand how content marketing works. If your target audience wants to see something, the most popular content providers in the niche have already covered the issues. Of course, you want to be a leader instead of follower, but if you want to validate a specific idea you have, you should always check how similar posts perform before proceeding with the next stages.
The easiest way to do that is by using tools like BuzzSumo and Ahrefs Content Explorer to find the most popular articles on topics close to the ones you have in mind. When you realize what kind of content gets the greatest level of validation, you can start working on something similar, but better. Remember: you have to provide great value for the target audience if you want them to appreciate your efforts.
Another way to validate the content’s achievements before its creation is by checking the efficiency of your own posts. This is how you can do that: use Google Analytics to check which ones of your blog posts have attracted the longest time on page and the greatest number of page views. Then, you can do the following things:
- Think of topics similar to the ones that engaged your audience.
- Turn a popular post into a foundation for a series.
- Work on a different topic, but maintain the form, style, and visual appearance of your most popular posts.
#2. Ask What Your Audience Wants to See
There’s one certain way for you to know whether your audience would like to see a particular post or they would gladly skip it: just ask them. It’s a really simple method that never fails to work. When you get an idea for a topic you would like to write on, post a Facebook update and a tweet to ask your audience if they would like to read such thing.
Your email list will also be very useful at this point. If you have a decent base of regular readers, you can send a survey with a question: “I’m planning to create an awesome post on something. If you want free access to this content, answer this survey to show your approval.”
If you realize that many people show interest in the particular topic, you can proceed with the next stages of research and creation. If you don’t get a great response, it’s time to start thinking of other ideas.
The question is: how can you rely on this method if you don’t have a huge audience? There are few techniques you can implement:
- Finish each post with something like “Did you like what you read? Would you like to see a post on something? Comment to tell us!”
- Use Facebook ads with intriguing questions that allow your target audience to choose one of the content ideas you have in mind. You’ll see which option gets the most engagement.
- Quora is a great place for asking your any questions. If you have two topics in mind, create an entry to ask the experts what they think. You can also research the community to realize what topics get the most attention.
#3. Create Content that’s Effective for the Distribution Channels You Intend to Use
This tip is so simple that it’s a wonder how many content marketers forget about it. Before you start working on a certain piece of content, think about the distribution channel you will use. LinkedIn users, for example, want to read factual content that gives useful tips for the job hunting community. Facebook users like to share long-form content or fun, brief articles that make the laugh. The majority of Twitter users want to come across as intellectual.
As a content creator, you need to think of the value your pieces are going to have on particular channels. For example, let’s say you’re targeting women who love makeup. You will definitely find that audience on Pinterest, but you won’t get much love on LinkedIn with such post. Thus, you’ll need to pick a topic that would be effective on Pinterest (a listicle that gives you the opportunity to infuse tons of photos in the post).
Use this logical reasoning to understand what type of content gets popularity on the network your target audience mostly uses.
Content validation doesn’t have to be complex, and it definitely shouldn’t be expensive. You won’t hire a professional who will cover this stage of the journey from idea to completion of shareable content. All you need to do is consider the content that’s already popular on social media, ask what your target audience would like to see, and form the idea in accordance with the type of content that receives great validation on the distribution channel you have in mind. Easy, right?