Friday, April 27, 2012

The Top Types of Online Content for Your Content Marketing Strategies (Now with More Cats!)

You know who loves online content? CATS.
Today we'll be further exploring the depths of online content, so get your wet-suits on and prepare for the plunge.

In our most recent post, we introduced the Content Marketing Blog Series and started the conversation about why content marketing is so important in today's web world.

Now we're taking this a step further and discussing the top prevailing types of content that drive "buzz" (question: is "buzz" now a "buzzword"? I say yes), traffic, and engagement with your brand online.

Before we do anything, let's define "Online Content" in the context of this blog in the least scientific way possible - Content Marketing is any material that is not a distinct web page and is consumed, interacted with, and shared on web platforms and via web channels.

Phew, now let's get on to the most prevalent types of content...

Top 8 Types of Online Content (in no particular order)

Look kids, we're blogging! 
You should really know what a blog is. It is short for "web log" and is essentially a frequently updated and less formal version of traditional web content. Blogs were once known to incite traditional authors/journalists into fits of rage due to their "newness". Nowadays, your grandmother probably has one.

The other ubiquitous form of online content. Videos are everywhere online, whether or not you love stupid things that waste your time and fill your inbox. They can also be educational, entertaining, engaging, you name it. Duh.

Podcasts are downloadable or streaming online audio, which usually come in the form of "shows" similar to a radio show. The difference is these shows are highly specialized and cover everything from the world of sports to DIY knitting to Roman History and back to everything (supposedly). They're great for downloading to phones/portable devices and listening on the go, or in the background at work if you want to constantly jumble words and screw up because of distraction.

Photo Collections/Galleries/Slideshows
What's that? You haven't seen enough
cat pictures online? For shame.
I'm not including individual photos because they are essentially everywhere and don't really have legs on their own (unless, of course, they are pictures of cats. It's an internet thing, apparently). When grouped into collections, however, photos become highly engaging, mainly because they're easy to sift through and digest. Also, cats.

Infographics are creative ways of visualizing data or other usually-quantifiable information. Again, they are easy to understand and don't require deep thinking or interpretation and, as we know, less thinking is usually a winner for online audiences (seriously. Just ask Steve Krug). Here are some fun examples of infographics.

Webinars are informative presentations that are played online. Great for expert and specialized content for industry people who are already interested or invested in what the webinar is expounding upon.

Downloadable Guides (etc.)
All-in-one downloadable or otherwise viewable guides, maps, brochures or other information. I tend to think of these like "what is easily printable and useful to an audience who is just passing through"? These are very effective ways of getting someone to take action on your site without "going all the way" (wink wink). Plus they often serve as a gateway to capturing audience information or email addresses.

Games or Other Interactive Features
Interactivity on websites is becoming more and more important, especially since everyone and their mother has a website nowadays. What is going to set your brand apart and make it memorable? Having an engaging feature that the audience can "play" with provides an invaluable experience advantage over other sites, gives unique content presentation, and develops a strong brand impact that will last.

That last point is most important, no matter what type of content you are employing on your site:

The entire purpose of online content is to engage your audience and give them something they WANT and NEED, ultimately generating a valuable brand experience and raising the likelihood of desired action being taken. Sounds easy enough, right? 

Now that we know what some of the most prominent types of online content are, how the heck do we choose the right ones to use? Fret not, our next post will explore the right approach to choosing content types for content marketing strategies. Stay tuned!

If I forgot something, which I probably did, for the love of God please let me know (in a most friendly fashion) below. Feel free to share other thoughts and feedback as well!