Making the Right Content/Format Selection for Your Topic

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Updated August 20, 2018
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Media Choice - Content Strategy - What type of media format should you use? Content Marketing

Making the Right Content/Format Selection for Your Topic


Bryce Boyle Hoban

Bryce is a SEO Specialist and Content Strategist with Hook Agency – focused on creating content that attracts ideal customers for our clients websites.

The digital marketing world is constantly evolving.

It seems like we are being inundated with more and more types of content format options each year and it can get a tad overwhelming at times.

Because of all the different routes you can take your content, deciding which format to go with is never an easy decision. Right now, blogs, podcasts, infographics, white papers, ebooks, videos, quizzes, and even virtual reality content can all be seen as as types of formats and there are still many, many more options.

However, if you do some research on your competitors and consider the resources you have available, the context of the topics, and who it’s aimed at, you can land on a format that fits perfectly.

Make your content marketing format decision easy by following these guidelines.

Research Competitors

When it comes to figuring out what type of format to choose for your topic, you can google your topic headline and keywords to see how others are choosing to discuss the subject. Seeing which formats rank the highest can show you which format audiences respond to, whether its a list, deep guide, a quick how to, or an infographic, and it will help you decide which route to take for your own content.

Assess Your Available Resources

Perhaps one of content marketings greatest attributes is the fact that you can deliver relevant and meaningful information at a low cost.

However, content marketing does require some time and effort, and sometimes you’ll need to create content that you aren’t necessarily an expert on.

When you run into this problem, you can still get other insights from bloggers and experts who do know a lot about a certain topic. Do some digging and find some blogs or other forms of content from sources who specialize in your topic. Odds are, different experts will have varying opinions on a subject matter. Pick 3-5 pieces of content that you really like and see what you can learn from them. See which thoughts you agree with and which you don’t, as well as the formats they chose. From the information you derive from these blogs, you can create your own content with expert-like information. Just make sure you’re putting it into your own words and sourcing them when you’re quoting directly.

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Just like if you’re writing a research paper, you might not know very much about it to begin with. But, once you actually do some investigating, whether it be from other company’s content or other professional sources, you can sound like an expert.

Consider the Context of Your Topic

One mistake you can come across when it comes to content marketing is people forcing different formats in their strategies just for the sake of mixing things up. Even if you have the manpower to create all types of formats, you should make sure that whatever format you choose makes sense within the context of the topic. When I say context, I mean two things: First, what are you trying to convey with this content piece? What information do you want your readers to gain and what would be the easiest way for your readers to understand that information? For example, is it visually (infographics) or through a step-by-step, written process (blogs)?

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Second, how important is this topic to your consumer? That is, how often does this topic or question come up with consumers and clients? How popular is it in terms of you keyword research, media monitoring, and customer interactions. A white paper may need to be used if the topic is of great importance. If not, formatting the topic into a quiz is a viable option. Make sure you take the time to ask yourself these questions.

Understand Your Audience’s Preferences

Using your audience persona, figure out what type of content the intended audience for that particular topic is perceptive to. Does your targeted consumer spend a lot of time on social media? Are they part of the demographic that has made podcasts a mainstream form of media? Are they busy and might not have time to read a blog series?

There are a lot of different questions to think about when considering your audience and, if you’ve created smart, useful audience personas, you should be able to get a good idea of what format they’ll prefer.

Format Options

Key types of formats, when to use them, and examples.

Written Blog – The traditional blog has become one of the more popular forms of content marketing. A written blog should be done when you want to bring content to your users at a frequent rate. If your topic is all about taking action or involves suggestions, blogs are a great way to do this.

Here at Hook, we employ a consistent blog about relevant topics that our audience cares about.

Video – Video-style blogs are becoming more and more frequent when it comes to content marketing. Because videos get a higher amount of shares when compared to written blogs, you should consider making videos when you’re in a competitive market to make yourself stand out amongst the crowd. Oftentimes, you’ll have to decide whether a topic should be put into a written or video format. If it’s a topic that you can incorporate visual demonstrations, videos are the way to go.

Blue Bottle Coffee, a San Francisco based coffee brand, has a video series that shows how to grind and make your own coffee and other tips and tricks that educate their audience while promoting their brand.

Podcast – If the topic you’ve chosen is extremely large and expansive, then you might want to consider launching a podcast for said topic. Because podcasts are a long form audio media, you will have to make sure that the topic is engaging and of great importance to your audience. Just like with videos, podcasts are a great way to show your creative side.

Mosaic, a crop nutrition company, worked with a marketing agency to create a, fictional, Serial inspired podcast about a failed yield during the harvest season. This podcast not only entertained, but educated it’s listeners on the importance of keeping their crops healthy.

Mosiac-podcast
“The Great Yield Mystery” was a content hit for Mosaic’s marketing.

White Paper – White papers a large, thorough forms of content that will involve a lot of research and data. While a podcast should be formed around a topic that is more engaging, light, and even humorous, a white paper should be a very professional document. If you’re having trouble finding a solid topic to start researching, look to your blogs or other forms of content that have gotten the most traffic, shares and overall engagement. Those are the subjects your audience is most interested in.

Apple created a white paper to discuss the security of their Face ID feature on their iPhones. They recognized that this was an issue that their users were concerned about and knew that a thorough content response was needed.

Quizzes – Quizzes don’t have to just be reserved for less serious topics. In fact, you can turn a pretty important subject matter into something a little more digestible and fun for your audience. Consider a real estate company creating a quiz entitled, “What Type of House Are You?” Not only is this format informative if you include how the audience’s personalities match with each type of home, but it does so in an entertaining fashion.

buzzfeed-quiz
Buzzfeed has all the inspiration you need for your next quiz.

Infographics – When data is the main driving force behind your topic, infographics are a must. Even if you want to write a blog, incorporating an infographic can help your audience better retain and understand the information. Check out these awesome infographic examples to help you get started.

Be Strategic About Your Formats

Just like with the topic itself, you should carefully consider what format when it comes to your content marketing. And, as you can see, there is a lot of variables to consider when assigning a format to your subject matter.

Most importantly, make sure there is a purpose for your content, in terms of both the topic and the type of format you choose. When it comes to your subject matter, define your goals before you start writing, recording, or designing any content. What is the reason for creating the content? Is it to drive leads or awareness? Or increase engagement on your site? The best content marketing companies will work hard to figure out what topics matter to their audience, which format will work best for illustrating the message, and how to measure the success of the content with a goal.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits each format can provide, reach out today and we’ll be happy to discuss some ideas for taking your content marketing to the next level.  

 

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Bryce Boyle Hoban

Bryce is a SEO Specialist and Content Strategist with Hook Agency – focused on creating content that attracts ideal customers for our clients websites.

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