12 Flavors of Content To Attract Your Audience


There aint no hiding now, kids. Hubspot spread the word that there are now more companies blogging than there are companies not blogging. And as I look at the strategy documents we’ve been creating for clients this summer that definitely seems to be the case – clients are looking for that blog consulting component as part of their SEO audit or larger link building services. Whether it’s the effect of Panda, Google+ or simply a more competitive market, businesses are looking toward new content as the key in helping them to build a brand, to foster a flowing conversation and, of course, to demonstrate their authority on a particular topic.

But no one said fresh content had to be a 900-word blog post.

Or another badly-crafted infographic. Or anything else that is about exciting to a user as sitting in post-fireworks July 4th traffic.

When coming up with this month’s editorial calendar or putting together your content creation goals, why not consider some additional content types? Content that will help you better attract your audience by rescuing them from the same chicken and rice they ate last night and giving them something more tasty to consume.

Below are 12 NEW content flavors to help you attract your audience. How can you work them into what you’re already doing?

1. Video

If a picture tells a thousand words, a video tells ten thousand. Incorporating video into your content marketing strategy allows you to educate, entertain, and inspire your audience with more personality than many of us can evoke through words. Because you’re not hiding behind WordPress, you give your audience the chance to see you, to hear the tone in your voice, and to create a more intimate relationship with you than through a traditional blog post. Adding video around product pages can even help increase sales by up to 30 percent.

Over the years, SEOmoz has done a great job with its Whiteboard Friday’s, posting a video each week digging into a certain aspect of SEO with a more personal touch. We not only get the information, but we get to learn about the talented members of the SEOmoz team.

SEOmoz Whitebeard Friday – Give and Ye Shall Receive from SEOmoz on Vimeo.

[Apologies to Rand for using the vid of him in a Santa beard. I just couldn’t help myself. ;) ]

2. Webinars

If authority and brand recognition is what you’re after, then webinars are a good way to achieve that with an interactive flair. It doesn’t take much more than the GoToMeeting software to get you up, running, and offering live educational seminars from the convenience of your office. Or your couch. Or that secret vacation you don’t want people to know you’re on. Webinars have become increasingly popular as of late because marketers can use them to build their email list or to attach a product offer, bringing in another revenue stream.

One company that’s currently rocking the marketing webinars is Hubspot.  They’re constantly offering their community fresh tips via a live format.  It helps turn your content into an event, not just a blog post.

3. Long-form content

If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, I challenge you to go through your archives and see what you’ve put out. You probably have ten different blog posts on different aspects of the same topic. For example, a long-standing photography blog is sure to have posts on:

  • How to choose a camera
  • The best types of lenses
  • How to set up the perfect shot
  • The best editing software
  • How to take advantage of Creative Commons
  • How to use Flickr to get links to your site

By reworking that content a bit and putting it together, you now have a photography eBook or guide that a user can download as a PDF. It goes from becoming a blog post lost in your archives to a cohesive piece of content marketing that your audience can not only use as a reference, but that they can share.

The nice folks over at Radian6 are experts at this, putting out a monthly eBook on a new social media-related topic. Each one digs deeper into a particular topic than a single blog post could and attracts more users.

4. Q&A Content

Not all the content you create is going to sit on your Web site. Part of fishing where the fish are and reaching people how they want to be reached, means getting off your island. One of the ways I like to do this is by participating in Q&A forums like LinkedIn Answers, Quora or niche-specific sites. By participating you’re able to show off your brand’s skill set and expertise, while also forming relationships with people who could become customers and media contacts looking to gain insight on that particular area.

If you’re an Internet marketing that specializes in SMB clients – what an opportunity to show off how you could help someone with their business.  The more information you give, the more readers realize how tangled the process is and how it would just be so much easier for them to hire you to do it for them. ;)

5. Case Studies

Instead of writing another How To post on the best ways to set up your Facebook page or how to gain more followers on Twitter…create a case study of how you’ve actually done it for yourself. Or how you’ve helped someone else to do it. More often, this is the content that your audience most wants to see because it not only provides them with valuable tips they can apply to their own business, but it shows them that you know what you’re talking about because you’ve accomplished it. You’re not just talking about it. Whatever your particular business, you should be working case studies into your process – both in terms of sharing them and in collecting them.

6. White Papers

According to Google (define: white paper), a white paper is an authoritative report giving information or proposals on an issue. Said simpler, it’s a guide with a slightly more pretentious name that consumers eat up. And they can be fantastic marketing tools.

As an example, the folks at SEOptomise offer a great Business Guide for Blogging to their audience.

7. Podcasts

When you feel like you’ve written all that you can write, say it instead. Podcasting allows you to present information via an oral conversation between either you and your audience OR you and a feature guest. One of the benefits of using podcasts in your content marketing strategy is how portable the medium is. Users aren’t tied to their desktop or even their cell phone scrolling through your words. All they have to do is download your podcast on their way out and then can listen to it from wherever they want – whether it’s their car stereo or via their iPod while at the gym.

One of my favorite marketing podcasts was SEM Synergy, which is out by our friends at Bruce Clay, Inc. Many of us were sad when the show when on hiatus, but now that Virginia Nussey is back where she belongs, look for it to start up again.

8. Online & Offline Events

If the content well is getting a little dry helping you attract people, why not throw a party? Whether it’s an online Twitter Party or an offline event in-store, hitting the streets and interacting with people one-on-one can help bring back the lovin’ feeling that is gone, gone, gone from your blog. And if it’s an offline event, you’ll soon have new images or videos to post on your blog as content. One stone, many birds.

9. Presentations

Did you speak at your local Chamber of Commerce last month? Did you host a meetup where you gave a small talk? Did you keynote a major industry conference where thousands and thousands of people attended? If you said yes to any of the following, post the slides to your presentation and let your audience relive the experience from home. Let them know what the subject was, who you spoke with, how great the experience was, and then share your slides.

Below is Rhea’s presentation from the SEOmoz NYC meetup that happened a few months ago.

You don’t even have to share the entire presentation (if you’re bashful), pick out some of your main data points and share them.

10. Apps & Tools

Okay, I haven’t seen a great example of a business using apps to help with their content marketing but every day I watch the @NikeGetFit taunt me with good information I have to think there’s a way. The 2011 Women’s World Cup is going on right now. Where’s the app that offers me scores, but also tells me about the players, their workouts, their fitness routines, and how I can be the next Hope Solo? Nike’s not a sponsor of the World Cup, but Adidas is. Where’s that tie in? Maybe there is one, but if so, I haven’t found it.

11. Blog with Google+

This is another one I’m not totally familiar with yet, but Chris Brogan is already all over it. You know what they say – DWBD (Do What Brogan Does).

12. Newsletters

I don’t love writing corporate newsletters, but I do enjoy reading them. Newsletters are still an effective way for engaging your audience because you’re able to hit them where they’re more apt to trust – in their inbox. For example, I read the Problogger email newsletter every morning. Sure, I subscribe to the blog and I may see the content that way, but I don’t really read it until it comes to my inbox. That’s just how I prefer to experience it. And depending on your audience and their likes/dislikes/quirks, they may follow a similar pattern.

Those are just 12 different content flavors you can use to attract your audience. Stop limiting yourself by thinking there’s only one. The trick is to develop a content strategy that incorporates a number of different flavors and highlight the ones that work best for your audience.

Your Comments

  • Jerry McCarthy

    Great insight. The landscape is changing due to the amount of businesses who are beginning to realize the value in blogging. As the value grows, so too will saturation. The information you’re sharing is golden Lisa as it’s more important than ever to blog at a high level so you don’t disappear in the crowd. This post is like a road map. It helps me stay on course. Thanks a million! :-)

    • Lisa Barone

      Thanks, Jerry. And I think you’re right – in order to NOT disappear in the crowd, you need to create a content strategy that incorporates a lot of different mediums so that you’re always grabbing people in new ways and not relying on the same stale bread.

  • netmeg

    We’ve been doing contests too. This isn’t one of mine, but it’s definitely my favorite this week. Those Raven folks are more fun than a barrel of monkeys. In shorts.

    Best Business Shorts

    • Lisa Barone

      Ha, that’s fantastic. Those Raven people are good people, for sure. Rhea’s a monster at coming up with clever contest ideas for our clients. I leave it to her and I go back to read the document and want to open mouth kiss her at what she came up with. Or, at least give her a hardy high five.

  • Carmen Sognonvi

    Thanks for putting together such a great resource, Lisa! The ideas are already buzzing around in my head.

    I especially love the idea of taking a few blog posts on a theme and reworking them into a longer e-book. I’ve done this a couple times with some of the character development stuff on our blog, but I need to be more consistent about doing it once a month.

    • Lisa Barone

      Glad they helped, Carmen. A lot of people are intimidated by eBooks, but when you look at your archives, you tend to already have most of the content there. Or at least the basis for it. You just have to polish it up and aggregate for users. Not only do YOU get a cool eBook, but you create a really great resource for them.

  • Heather Stephens

    Hi Lisa,

    While all your suggestions are fantastic, I absolutely love your ebook idea! I’ve been using video, webinars, and many of the other suggestions you mentioned on my personal blog for a while and there are a bunch of posts in several categories I can repurpose! I’ll also be using several of your ideas here at my FatWallet social media job!

    Thank you!

  • Susan (5 Minutes for Mom)

    Great tips! We’re planning on starting regular webinars.

  • Tea Silvestre

    Hi Lisa – this is a great post. I especially love that you use “flavors” to illustrate your point. Found you via a guest post you did over at Small Biz Trends.

    I’ve been looking to add some new flavors to the way I cook up my content, and have decided to launch a monthly Blog Carnival/Twitter Party. You know…YOU would be a great guest blogger at my inaugural event. If you’d like to check it out, I’ve posted this page on my site: http://thewordchef.com/blog-carnivals.

    • Lisa Barone

      Congratulations on the launch. I love me a good Twitter Party ;), and blog carnivals are great way to get people engaged and build buzz. I’ll have to go check out what you’re doing! :)

  • Jason Acidre

    Extreme list as usual.

    Crowdsourcing is also a good addition to this list (though I think it could fall under the Q&A category), plus the collected answers from industry experts can also be considered as a long-term content, given that their contributions will certainly be useful to readers.

    • Lisa Barone

      Great addition! Crowdsourcing via posting a question to industry leaders and then sharing their responses is another great way to both educate and attract readers. Thanks for including it!

  • Scott Hepburn

    It’s interesting to me that your clients are looking for blog consulting as part of an SEO audit or link-building strategy. I’ve typically approached blogging from the other direction — as a source of content for social, and as a PR/storytelling tool. Given the obvious benefits of blogging for SEO, what your saying makes sense. Do you find its easier to sell blogging as an SEO tool vs. a stand-alone or PR tool?

    Obviously, an integrated approach is best, but I’m always shocked how many clients want to omit or cut out the content creation piece.

    • Lisa Barone

      I would say that most clients who come to us for blogging services are doing so in conjunction with a larger campaign – whether it’s SEO, link building, social media, branding, etc. I hope I didn’t make it sound like they WEREN’T using blogging as part of a social media campaign, I just highlighted the others because I feel like, historically, that’s been less the norm. When most of our clients think social media, they think blogging. That hasn’t necessarily always been the case when talking about some of the other areas.

      But you’re so on point. It’s amazing how many clients don’t think about the content creation process. They know the results they want, but they’re not seeing that big middle step needed to help them get there. Or at least they weren’t. To their credit, I think more are now.

      • Scott Hepburn

        It’s funny — that middle step of content creation seems to be the missing piece, whether they’re in a search mindset or a social mindset, a lead gen mindset or a brand awareness mindset. Ironic, considering it’s such a critical piece — and a powerful differentiator.

        I’m glad to hear when your clients think social, they think blogging. I’ve noticed the opposite (in some markets): They think social = Facebook, Twitter, MAYBE LinkedIn, MAYBE YouTube. Even among Internet marketers in Charlotte, I’ve heard “blogging isn’t part of social.” It’s weird.

  • Chris Brogan...

    My blogging attempt was a failure, but I *will* crack that nut. : )

    And thanks.

    • Scott Hepburn

      Hey Chris, what about using some sort of curation tool like Storify to bundle text, Tweets, video and more, then embedding the entire Storify into a Google+ post? Or does that defeat the purpose?

  • Irischka

    Good article. Good material. I can complement on the topic, that there must be a clear structure in a blog. All material must be located clearly on divisions. That is why as is will find an interesting site, like information much, and to find nothing can. I from such sites leave at once.

  • Trish


    Thanks for such a great mention and compliment! We appreciate it. These are 12 really great “flavors” and I personally love the idea of holding offline events.

    Best wishes,
    Trish, Community Manager at Radian6

  • Sebastian

    Hey Jason,

    I agree I think crowdsouring is a great addition but I personally would look at this addition as an overarching them not a specific task or tactic. Crowdsourcing is an objective in my eyes and is applicable to all the tactics listed above. Thoughts?

  • Michael Herman

    Excellent article Lisa. The 2 only additions I’d recommend are related to the “Long-Form Content” and “Q&A” item you mention above.

    First, portals such as AOL.com, MSN.com & Yahoo.com are constantly featuring articles that are in the format of lists (e.g. “7 Things You Don’t Need Anymore,” “10 things we can’t live without (but Grandma did)” and “10 commandments for cubicle dwellers”). These articles combine the list format with compelling content, for entertainment, education, help, etc. This makes their viral aspect as strong as any other type of content on the web.

    Second, the long-form format of “How to” articles are also high in viral value. It’s taking the Q&A site idea and bringing the content to your own site (or into a content syndication system that spreads it across the Internet. Some examples of this idea would be: “How to Open a Money Market Account” and “How to Keep Your Pool Clean with Much Less Effort.” Sites such as eHow.com and other like sites are raking in traffic. Some of that traffic could be traveling over to your site if you take a model that works and make it work for you.

    Both of these tactics support the truth that quality content attracts quality back-links, bringing about stronger rankings.

    Thank you again for the stronger ideas, Lisa.