Effective content marketing

Is relevance, not shareability, the key to effective content marketing?

We live in a fast-paced world, where consumers are exposed to a constant flow of information online. Statistics quoted by Chartbeat 1, a New York-based web analytics company, indicated 55% of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website, so it is essential that your content catches their eye.

Increasingly, content marketers are focusing on creating shareable content, with the aim of reaching a larger portion of your social media followers online and allowing you to communicate your brand principles more effectively. A new study however has shown that there is a major disconnect between the content people share and read.

Shares vs. reads

The study was conducted by the University of Columbia and the French National Institute. News portal The New York Daily News reports 2 that they analysed five major new outlets’ Twitter pages over the course of one month during 2016. The research found that the outlets’ posts had a combined 2.8m shares, meaning that they reached 75bn people online.

However, these posts only had roughly 9.6m actual clicks. These statistics therefore suggest that for every link to content posted on social media, only two out of five of your followers will click through and read the piece. The other three will not read the story, instead they will just share it with their followers.

Commenting study co-author Arnaud Legout said: “People are more willing to share an article than read it… This is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.”

Value of relevancy

This disproves a common marketing industry myth. This is the idea if that you create content titles that catch people’s eye, irrespective of whether these headlines are relevant to the subject matter of the piece, people will want to read. Content titles are very important when promoting content on social media, as people can only see headlines in their over-crowded, ever-changing newsfeeds. Research quoted by the Washington Post 3 suggests that 80% of the time people prefer headlines that “helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through.” Therefore, relevancy, not share-ability, is the key to effective content marketing.

Creating relevant content

So how do you create relevant content? How do you find out what content your target audience finds useful? It is key that you conduct research to determine the issues, concerns and types of conversations which are either important or engaging to your audience

Business portal Inc.com writes 4 that “content must be designed to educate, inspire or entertain first and sell second.” In other words, develop content your followers find useful, so they have a reason to read the full article. This can range from ‘how to’ guides which showcase your industry expertise to comment pieces on sector trends, illustrating your reputation as a thought leader in your field.

Include visual elements

You may also want to include multimedia content in your content marketing strategy. In this fast paced world, not only can multimedia content catch someone’s eye just as effectively as a provocative headline, but it can incentivise users to click your link because it provides them with relevant content.

Video can prove a highly effective multimedia tool. Figures quoted by the Guardian 5 indicate that video will account for 69% of consumer traffic by 2017. You may also want to include infographics, which both impart relevant information and prove attention-grabbing. According to Ad Week 6, colour images increase willingness to read by 80%, so incorporating colour infographics into content shared via social media could actually increase said content’s click-through rates.


1. http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/chartbeat-website-engagement-data-nj#sm.0000fez5w6brkcrkr291ykcedh9hp

2. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/majority-links-shared-social-media-read-article-1.2679809


4. http://www.inc.com/dustin-mckissen/how-to-create-content-people-will-actually-read.html

5. http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/jan/14/video-content-marketing-media-online

6. http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/new-infographic-reveals-the-value-of-infographics/113551

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