It is a question that has troubled marketing departments for as long as there have been marketing departments: how do you take a boring subject and make it interesting? In the digital age this question can be qualified and updated so that we now ask – what is the best way to make content sharable? You might imagine that if you provide products or services in a fairly dull industry that this would be a real challenge. But there are some techniques that almost any business can use to make it easier.
It is important to remember, of course, that a subject is only boring if it doesn’t have an application. As soon as your product becomes useful or relevant to its audience, then they will find it very interesting. So it is a fantastic idea to provide that audience with what they are looking for: establish the questions they are asking and answer them. Even the driest subject can come alive with relevant ‘how to’ guides or an impressively detailed FAQ section.
Utilize tools like Answer the Public to establish the most commonly searched queries in your subject area. If you can provide the answers to these questions, you’ll have content that is genuinely useful and highly sharable. If you can develop a reputation as the brand in your marketplace that has the answer to the questions people are asking, it can do wonders for your business.
Avoid writing for search engines
It wasn’t long ago that one of the cornerstones of great search engine optimisation (SEO) was to create content that would appeal to search engines like Google. Creating content that was rich with keywords – regardless of actual quality or usefulness – was a sure-fire way to get ranked highly. Unfortunately this strategy still pervades content writing as it is perceived that the only thing that really matters is content that ranks highly. Of course the problem with this approach is that is can take a dull subject matter and make it effectively unreadable, because the target audience isn’t even a human reader.
And if you are still prioritizing search engines over users, it’s important to remember that Google has become far more sophisticated than ever before and even utilizes a learning artificial intelligence system called RankBrain which is far more adept at spotting genuine high quality content for simple keyword rich writing. What RankBrain really wants to see is content that has been created for real people, not for search engines. – Aaron Thomas, Artemis.marketing
It is possible to craft pieces that are focussed on the reader first, but still appeal to search engine algorithms – the two concepts are not mutually exclusive at all. Always remember that no matter what subject you are writing on, if you write for the audience rather than on what you think will help it rank, you are doing right by Google.
Find interesting tangential subject matter
Take a subject like engineering. No-one, not even engineers, are interested in reading through reams of technical documentation on parts – there might be a time and a place for this kind of writing, but it is definitely not on your website. The same usually goes for any kind of difficult or dry material.
Sometimes the key with a dull topic can be finding tangential subject matter that is more interesting. Many businesses assume that the content that they create needs to have a direct link to their product or service, but if you work in a fairly dry industry it can be very difficult to generate interest in content that stays rigorously on topic.
Going back to the subject of engineering – think about the end uses of the product or service, and you will easily find something interesting to write about. And this is something that can be done for just about any industry if you want to have something valuable to your reader. An example of this could be a provider of kitchen tiles creating content on interior design or recipes, or surveyor providing insight on home improvement and increasing property value. If you are interested in creating sharable and interesting content it can be far better to find a subject that tangentially links to your product or service rather than spending your energy of the dull aspects.
Do more than just write
Written content is very important for websites – as we mentioned earlier, much of SEO and what search engines are able to determine about your website comes from the material that you write. But many businesses can get stuck in the idea that content simply means articles and written material. While this is undoubtedly extremely valuable, there are many different kinds of content that can be used to be more engaging on less interesting topics.
Take the time to think again about your audience and establish exactly what kind of content would be most interesting or useful to them. It could be the case that you can bring the interesting aspects of your products to life using video tutorials, or maybe your industry is crying out for an in-depth podcasts on the subject matter. Anything that fits in naturally with your topic can be shared by your audience, so don’t get bogged down in what everyone else is doing.
Check existing content and do something different
On the same subject, remember that the best way to make content that is sharable is to be creative and unique. Tools like Buzzsumo allow you to take a look at and analyze the best performing and most shared content in any niche. This can be very useful because it gives you an insight into what aspects of your topic are actually interesting to your audience. But remember that it is also a way to find out what kind of content, which is successful for other topic areas but hasn’t yet been utilized in yours.
This could come in the form of long-form content, expert advice from industry influencers or interactive guides. Thought-provoking original content is far more likely to be shared and engaged with than something that has been done many times before.