Success Highway SignIf you have a blog or social media profile you’ve most likely seen or heard someone tell you to ”give readers valuable content”. What does that mean?!

There are so many opinions on what valuable content is, what it can do for you and how you can come up with it.

To say the least it can be difficult to figure out, to know what strategy is the right one to choose, and then to actually make up valuable content.
Here are some opinions about what is valuable.

Jay Baer is a best selling author, with his most recent book “Youtility”.

Jay is also a social media expert, he understands business, the psychology of what gets people to buy, and the how the internet and several other technology tools have changed selling.

In “Youtility” he discusses how being successful with content, ie: making valuable content, is about being useful.

When a company, or person is able to be truly useful and provide something people would gladly pay for, if they were asked to, is being a Youtility.

This approach can be used by any company. No matter the size, the brand, the products or services, once the company knows and understands their follower (or potential buyer) they can be useful.

How is an entirely different story. How requires creativity, understanding, risk and resources; all things that not every company can easily muster, but this strategy is probably the most accessible for the companies hat can figure it out.

Marcus Sheridan is a common name in content marketing. The man is magnetic, smart, successful and a partner of THE inbound marketing company Hubspot. He is constantly giving content to educate people and companies.

Marcus’ strategy perse is giving away the kitchen sink, answering every question your potential client can ask about your industry, what you do, how you do it and why. The reason this works is because of search optimization and transparency.

This is another strategy that any company with resources can use. It’s simple because you have the answers, you simply need to put them into words on your website.

This is much easier for any small company to accomplish, and there is much less risk involved. It will take time to start seeing results but the more often you write, the faster you’ll see a change.

The results from this tactic probably won’t turn a company into a multi-billion dollar success story but done right it can make a huge difference.

The difference between these two is a lack of risk. Content marketing by answering questions costs very little, needs very little as far as resources, but it doesn’t usually come with the success and notoriety that comes with a successful Youtility campaign. Never fear though, there is more!

Mari Smith is a Facebook expert, who is the author of Relationship Marketing. While her approach isn’t necessarily tied to content marketing, there is a connection.

Mari advises businesses to build relationships with their followers as much as possible. This is beneficial and simple to do, especially when the company has a small following. As a company gets thousands of followers, it’s a bit more time consuming but puts a focus on responding to every comment, like, retweet, etc.

As with Marcus’ Questions Answered approach this can be done by any company. The way this strategy works with content is that to get responses and tweets the company must first give the follower a reason to follow them and engage, often done with content.

Through content the company puts out opportunities to build relationships and encourages engagement. Ideally the company will encourage followers to subscribe on other platforms as well such as email, to further nurture the relationship.

Mari offers a great approach that has worked with her clients because with relationship marketing there is an emphasis on building a community of followers and not just a profile from which to broadcast.

Storytelling is the next ‘hot’ thing in content marketing. Being able to tell a story helps sell the product or service you have for sale. It helps you portray what you have to offer as the solution people need.

As you can see by watching television people love stories. People like connecting to the characters, seeing the similarities to their own lives and watching them win, because that means they can win, too.

Social media and blogs are great places to tell stories, even in as short as 140 characters on Twitter. Stories can be about clients, customers, employees, products or services. Copyblogger is a popular blog that offers a lot of advice on storytelling.

Using Different Platforms, Media & Repurposing of content makes it almost impossible to not come up with content for your followers or readers.

Some of the most common platforms and media:

* Slideshare.net- slideshows
* Blogs- news/posts
* Youtube- videos
* iTunes- podcasts
* Kindle- ebooks
* Scribd- Pdfs
* Summits- presentations
* BlogRadio- audio
* Pinterest- infographics
* Twitter- chats
* Google+ hangouts
* Go To Webinar- webinars
* Aweber- emails
* Forums- posts

Once you take all of these platforms and media types and start putting your content into different types, you’ve got dozens of ways to share the same content, and more importantly a much larger audience because you can reach people on all of these platforms.

The biggest investment with this type of content marketing is time. While you will save time because you won’t be creating content from scratch, it does take time to convert each piece to another file type.

There are some tools that can make duplicating to another format easier. A good way to use this strategy is to hire someone you can train to make the conversions, which are relatively easy.

Curation is a fast way to provide content because you simply share your thoughts and links to other company’s content. It does take time to go through the vast amount of content being created every day, but you control how many sources you look at, and you decide which are the best pieces.

Busy followers particularly like curated content because it saves them time from searching through the industry themselves. Companies like this strategy because they easily share their thoughts with the comments on each piece. The problem with this is it depends on others to provide content, and it lacks the originality to have true thought leadership.

Summary

As you can see there are many opinions and strategies you can choose from to help you develop valuable content. Each plan includes a different level or risk, time investment and liklihood of it working. Since every company is different, you should choose the content marketing plan that most closely matches your needs.

How About You?

Have you been practicing content marketing for awhile, or have you just started? What questions do you have about it, or tips to help others? Tell me below!