Businesses will frantically look around for new consumer behavior trends. Will the mobile be the future of the web? How will mobile consumption patterns evolve? What products and services are making it to the top of the consumer mind share? How do you explain eco-trends, more-ism, emerging markets, and new technologies? Or as Trend Watching nudges us to think: what's the full-frontal mega-trend of transparency? What are App-scriptions?
Trends are a sure way to latch your content development work on. This kind of content is sure to grab attention, cover new stories, give an interesting twist to your content marketing strategy, and help provide a platform for your customers to base their thinking on. Developing content based on trends also makes you a thought leader and a trend watcher -- a sure sign of "moving with the times".
So, how do you develop content on such trending topics without coming across as irrelevant? How do you create relevant, engaging content that doesn't add more to the mucky spam flooding the Internet?
Here are a few ideas:
Have Resources: Make List - Follow - Latch On
The first step to creating great content based on trends is to actually "follow trends". Pick your choice from micro-trends, macro-trends, geo-specific trends, global trends, or trends based on the niche your business is related to. Start with Google Trends and social media hotspots such as trending topics on Twitter (the ones with the hash tags).
Apart from leading news publications such as ComScore, IDB, Bloomberg Business Week, The WSJ, AllThingsD, ReadWrite, and TechCrunch, there are many more sources for you to catch-up with. Since the list grows forever, trend sources are moving targets. Start with McKinsey Global Institute, Trend Watching, Global Trends, The Economist, Time, and scores of other sources to keep you updated.
No read. No write.
Content = Message + Hook + Structure + Passion
Call it content marketing, online marketing, or blogging -- essentially you are communicating. Your content is a piece of message that tries to educate, teach, evoke action, persuade, excite, remind, engage, inform, or maybe just make someone's day.
In any case, you'll need a message, a hook, and a structure to your content. These are essentials. While the message you want to communicate embodies all of the content, it must always begin with a hook. Andrew Davis of Content Marketing Institute has an interesting post on why you should start your content with a hook.
Decide on the message, intrigue or attract your readers with a hook, base your content on intelligence, experience, analysis, and credibility.
Pour passion into your content because "boring" doesn't cut it.
Use Visuals. Create New Visuals If You Have To
If the growth of Pinterest didn't give you anything to think about yet, it's this: the growth of visuals as communication aid is growing on the web. Visuals are a fresh break from the standard text.
Visuals are refreshing, impactful, and great story-telling tools. Research has it that humans retain about 65% of a message when delivered with visuals. That explains the growth of posters, memes, info graphics, and video. Use visuals to spread the message, narrate your brand-story, and drive a point home, to inform and to educate.
Show them the picture. Make your content work for you.
Relevance. Knowledge. Freshness Factor. Content Mix Deep Dive
Seth Godin and Randy Gage can write a blog post that's not more than 350 words and still create an impact. Steve Pavlina - a veteran blogger - writes lengthier posts compared to Seth Godin but he's been around and still gets his readership. Most of SEOmoz's posts are long and information rich (combined with visuals and videos). The things that are common with each of these examples are that they are always relevant, knowledgeable, fresh, and they all go deep into their content (except Seth Godin who prefers to run podcasts and write books instead).
By going deep, there's a visible content mix in their strategy for using content marketing. Seth Godin has his blog, top selling books, and a series of podcasts. Randy gage has books and his blog. Companies such as SEOmoz, KISSmetrics, HubSpot, and many others have long-form blog posts, eBooks, Whitepapers, reports, emails, videos, and much more.
In fact, it's the content mix with the right ingredients that make for writing great content.
What's your mix going to be like?
Observe And Learn. Follow And Get Inspired
Hugh McLeod - a cartoonist, owner of GapingVoid and an author - has a fresh approach to cartoons. He scribbles on a card-sized canvas and that's where his content comes alive.
The Oatmeal is a books and comics publisher and it's apparent that they use graphic-rich, visually oriented, and highly creative content to appeal to their readers.
Are you looking for examples of websites that actually make "trend following" the core of their business? SpringWise has "crowd-spotters" who report in regularly on new business ideas from all over the world.
These examples feature content that's unique and aided with visuals. They are also spot-on, trend-based, and highly informative. They stay relevant and they inch towards supremacy in information. They are authoritative and they publish with an attitude.
While you might not publish all trends for your business, you'll still get the drift. Timely, accurate, and trend-based content marketing for your business is a failsafe recipe for great content marketing.
When it comes to publishing based on trends, there's the factor of application. As a business, you'll not only stay abreast of the new developments, and "foresee" what's coming but you'll also be able to apply some of what you learn from this information flow.
You educate and still learn. You'll inform and you'll apply some of it yourself.
Business is too precious for spam; there's no time for irrelevance. You get one shot at it.
How will you approach?
Pratik Dholakiya is Co-Founder & VP of Marketing of E2M Solutions & OnlyDesign. At E2M Solutions, they focus heavily on content marketing and generate revenue for their clients. And through OnlyDesign they help companies build better web & mobile presence. Get in touch with him on Twitter @DholakiyaPratik to ask for any help.