Content creation isn’t just for influencers! If you’re a brand professional wondering how to become a content creator, you’re not alone.
More than ever, brands are creating original content across multiple platforms to engage with their audiences. It’s one of the best ways to showcase your brand personality, build customer relationships, and drive more traffic and conversions.
But content creation shouldn’t happen haphazardly. There are decisions brands must make about types of content, processes, resources and more.
In this article, we’ll cover how content creation has evolved over time, why content creation is so important for brands, types of content brands create and how to begin creating consistent, high-quality content.
- Content creation has evolved over the past ten years into a necessary part of every digital marketing strategy.
- Influencer content has largely taken the place of celebrity endorsements.
- B2B buyers rely on brand content to do more than half of their research before ever contacting a brand directly.
- Video is set to soon become the most published and consumed type of content of all.
- Companies should consider outsourcing content creation if their internal resources are not enough to meet content goals.
- Work plans and content calendars are important planning tools to keep content creation on track.
The evolving role of content creation
When I originally wrote about content creation on this blog in 2012, I titled that article: Join the 1% and Become a Content Creator. Little did I know that over the next decade, content creation would explode beyond what I imagined. Today, content creation has become a full-fledged career path for individual influencers and a competitive imperative for brands to have digital marketing success.
The impact of influencer marketing
The launch of Instagram brought on the rise of influencer culture, and with it the nature of content creation changed forever. All of a sudden, consumers cared more about what influencers had to say about products and brands than A-list celebrities with advertising deals.
Brands had to shift their focus to influencer partnerships and more authentic messaging in order to resonate with the modern consumer.
We now call this the creator economy, in which influencers monetize their social media content through strategic brand partnerships. In just the past six years, the influencer marketing global market size has grown by 10X and 93% of marketers say they have used influencer marketing in some way.
B2B buyers look online
At the same time, consumers in the B2B sector increasingly looked to the internet to do their brand research, and today, most complete more than 57% of their research before ever reaching out to a brand directly. This has drastically changed the way B2B brands approach the sales cycle and has required them to create content in order to reach potential customers in need of their solutions.
In 2022, content marketing is used by more than 90% of organizations and yields 6X the ROI of other forms of marketing. Even brands who adopted content marketing early on and were once seen as innovators must continually get more creative, keep up with trends, and produce better content in a more and more competitive environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic also forced even those most traditional brick-and-mortar companies to get online and reach their audiences in new ways.
In short: brands need to be using content marketing. And in order to do that, they need to be content creators.
What content creation means for brands in 2022
Content creation is a multiform, multichannel endeavor for brands today. Content creation encompasses blogs, social media, video, infographics, email and more. And while not every type of content or channel is for every brand, companies need an intentional, customer-focused process and plan for content creation in order to be successful. This means understanding who your target audience is, the kind of content that’s valuable to them, and what your brand is capable of creating.
In the graphic below you can see the many types of and channels for content marketing as well as the goals each accomplishes for brands.
You can learn more about the overarching strategy required to manage content in our how-to for developing a content marketing strategy. Here, we’ll stay focused on the actual content creation itself. Let’s start by going through some of the most common and effective types of content brands create:
Blogging is what most people think of first when they hear the term “content marketing.” A typical blog lands around 1000-2000 words (although this can vary depending on the topic) and blogs that are longer form tend to get the best results. Blogging requires frequent post publishing (11-16 times per month for the most ROI, according to Hubspot) and an SEO strategy behind it (to get your articles ranked on SERPs).
Image Source: HubSpot
The takeaway: blog writing is time consuming. Frankly, that’s why many brands don’t do it well. For blogging to really pay off, you need a dedicated team with the right knowledge and experience, or you need to outsource to an agency that can do it for you (more on that later).
Video is taking over as the most preferred and most consumed type of content of all. Cisco reported that by the end of 2022, video would account for 82% of all online traffic. Current trends certainly align with this prediction — short form video is everywhere (thanks, TikTok!) and COVID-19 has made longer videos like lectures, workshops, and webinars the norm.
The main roadblock many brands run into is the cost and skill required for production, and it can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be for many types of video content, like webinars or social media stories. With the right training and practice, your content team can produce much of the engaging video content you need from an iPhone.
Nearly two-thirds (72%) of consumers prefer email over all other types of direct communication from brands. Most people check their email multiple times every day. It’s a surefire way for getting in touch with your audience and a great channel for amplifying other content you’ve created.
Image Source: Marketing Sherpa
Email is very much about timing and targeting. Send an email at an off time and your open rate can really suffer. Send many emails too close together and you risk being spammy. Blast out a blanket message to too many people and you come off generic — the best emails are tailored to specific customer segments based on demographics or preferences.
All of this said, there are tons of email marketing tools you can use to help automate much of your sending, organize segmented lists, and track email performance metrics.
Infographics are a super engaging way to take complex (even dry or technical) information and make it engaging. They can be made for any topic under the sun, but they’re especially helpful for communicating a large amount of information in one place and making it digestible for the reader.
For example, Marketing Insider Group used infographics as a way to put our anatomy of a perfect blog post and blog post checklist (both with lots of information) in one place for our customers and readers.
Social media posts
People love to engage with their favorite brands on social media. In fact, 90% of social media users say they’ve made a purchase from a brand they follow, and they interact with brands all the time in many different ways.
Many brands think about social media as a means for simply sharing other content (like blogs or YouTube videos) but you can also create content specifically for the social media platforms you use, like surveys or polls, stories, or short-form videos for TikTok and Instagram. Social content is the most interactive type of content on our list, and it’s a great way to build relationships with your audience.
How to become a content creator: the brand version
Now that we’ve covered why content is so important for brands and the different types of content they usually create, you’re probably wondering: how can your brand actually be a content creator? Where do you get started? Let’s walk through your next steps:
Evaluate your current team and resources
First thing’s first: what current resources do you have to dedicate to content creation? This is an important thing to assess first because it helps you make a decision about whether or not you’ll handle content creation internally or outsource to an agency with the right knowledge and skills. While this isn’t a comprehensive list, right from the start you’ll need writers, people with SEO experience, and designers. You’ll also need access to important tools for strategic jobs like keyword research, email and social media automation, and data tracking.
You’ll also need your current staff to be able to dedicate a significant amount of time to content creation. The only thing worse than no content is bad content, so you don’t want to take it on without the right resources in place.
Decide which types of content you’ll create
In this case, I recommend starting small and building on your success. For example, maybe you want to create a really great blog and be more active on two social media platforms where you share your blogs and post some interactive content. Once that’s going well, you might add another platform and create some short-form video content (and so on and so on). This is just an example. The point is to do a few things really well, get experience, and keep succeeding rather than failing fast by trying everything all at once.
Build your work plan and content calendar
This step is absolutely critical, and here’s why: without a detailed, documented work plan and content calendar, you risk your content creation falling through the cracks. Your work plan should track every task that needs to be completed, who is responsible for it, and its deadline. Your content calendar tracks when your content will be published and where.
Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. There are lots of content calendar and content plan templates you can download for free and customize for your company.
Identify the performance metrics you’ll measure
To keep your team accountable and your plan on track, you need to set goals for your content. What do you want to accomplish for your brand through content? More traffic to your website is an obvious one. Maybe you want to grow your social media following. Perhaps you want to establish your brand as an expert on a particular topic.
Whatever your goals are, the most important thing is to set them and define them well. I recommend using the SMART goal framework to help you do it.
Once you’ve done the prep work, it’s time to take the leap! Start following your plan and seeing results.
Continuously evaluate, refine, and improve
It’s last but it’s definitely not least. That content plan we talked about before? It should have specified processes and dedicated times for you to evaluate your content’s performance and make adjustments when needed. You can do this in an ongoing way using tools like Google Analytics, your CMS platform’s analytics program, and social media performance analytics dashboards
Outsource for reliable, high-quality content creation
Content creation takes time! If you’re running a business, you probably don’t have hours to spend writing blogs or making videos. That’s why 70% of companies outsource content creation to agencies with the experience, knowledge, and resources to execute for them. The team at MIG includes writers and SEO experts who can deliver you optimized, ready-to-publish content every week for one year or more.
Check out our SEO blog writing service or schedule a quick consultation with me to get started.
17 thoughts on “How to Become a Content Creator: The Ultimate Guide for Brands”
I am particularly intrigued with the first idea in your post – how does a company move from being a promoter of their stuff to to a provider of business insights? I have to share an (outstanding) example of this idea.
On July 20, Kyle Wiens, who is the CEO of iFixit, the largest online repair community, wrote a blog post in the Harvard Business Review about how he will not hire anyone, regardless of the position, who cares not a whit about grammar. He says, “The person who has decided not to care about grammar is not the kind of person I want to work with.” His blog got an amazing 3180 comments – and still counting.
Yesterday, in the Huffington Post, Jeneau Chun, a HuffPost blogger picks up the story, adds to it – remember, Mr. Wiens is not talking about his business directly, he is contributing a business experience as content – and THIS article gets 2793 comments and still counting!
Astounding to me. The comments were a little pithier on the HBR – “This from someone who doesn’t have any idea at all how to use a preposition properly – “That’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with.” “It’s “with which I am comfortable” or “that comforts me” or “that I accept” vs. the Huff Post crowd – “A preposition,” said a college professor to his class, “is a bad word to end a sentence with.”
But the point is, when you can engage… let me add that up, 5973 readers for one idea that is not pushing a product. But I’ll bet a lot of those people now know what iFixit.com is – (am I dangling my participle?)
BTW – a bit of an unfortunate URL
Elaine, this is one of the greatest comments I have ever received. Thank you for adding this story to the conversation. It is truly a great example of the power of content marketing, personal brand evangelism and thought leadership.
Except for that url, which is also true! Thanks again!
This is absolutely true. If you aren’t creating thought provoking, original content than you won’t capture the attention of your target audience. Original is the key phrase here. There are many businesses that just share what others are saying, but then you won’t be seen as a thought leader.
Hey Michael – Thanks for your kind words:) Have a great weekend.
Based on this wikipedia article and the contents of your article, would you consider your own company part of the 9% or part of the 1%?
Well Lucy, I think it’s pretty clear you and I are both in the 1% (created content) and I am also in the 9% (for sharing it).
I love the lead off to this blog post – it says it all!
Last week I was at a networking event hosted by SAP at the Palo Alto campus. It was a fabulous event and I got to meet many executives. In conversation, I mentioned how I was a big fan of your blog and that it was one of the main reasons I accepted SAP’s networking invitation. I think you might just have a few more fans!
Through Marketing Insider you have more than lived up to the lead off sentence of your blog post. You’ve become a provider of business insights. You provide value, very refreshing. More marketers should take notice.
Lina, Thank you so much! You seriously have just made my day. I wish I could have been there and will certainly take as many fans in the executive ranks as I can get. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you!
You’re welcome, I’m glad I made your day! Gratitude is such a positive energy and I try to make it a point of expressing it on a daily basis.
Something you’ll want to correct, nothing major but there are 2 “the” in your “About Michael Brenner” footer: “Michael Brenner is proud to be the the author of B2B Marketing Insider …”
Have a great day. Lina
Doh! Fixed, so thanks again!
Michael, if you will turn on the threaded comments feature in WordPress we could reply directly to each other and it will be so much easier to follow discussions in the comments. Go to settings, discussions, and check Enable threaded (nested) comments. Most blogs choose 4 levels deep.
Elaine’s examples would make a great topic for another post. It is best if your content is as grammatically correct as possible; however, there are many thought leaders who can not spell and do not know the difference between your and you’re or they’re, their and there.
To refuse to read what they have to say is an elitist position that limits what you can learn. Often times the person in the trenches knows much more than those managing them – and neither worker nor manager may excel at writing.
We only know the errors we can recognize – not the ones we aren’t aware of so as often happens, someone with greater knowledge of grammar comes along and points out that the “grammar nazi” isn’t perfect, either. Even grammar experts do not agree about some usages and get in heated discussion where one site is positive they are correct – and the other side just as positive. Does it really matter, especially if only grammar experts know the difference? Just fix the obvious issues and common mistakes and don’t sweat the small stuff.
While your desire to get all employees into the top 10% is admirable, it is highly unlikely. There are many people whose greatest contributions will lie in other areas and while you might be able to force them to share, if they truly hate it they will not be very good at it.
A better goal is to identify those who have something to say and enable them to join the 1% and provide training, tools and time to those who love sharing so that they can do it more effectively.
The majority of the 1% are more researcher than thought leader. While they create content that brings together what thought leaders share, they are not thought leaders themselves.
We have an educational system that tries very hard to get people to do what they are told, believe “the experts”, and not think. Those of
us who rejected that conditioning are not all that common. If your company has a true leader who has original ideas or can explain complex topics but isn’t a writer, capture their thoughts on video or audio or in notes. You can always have a writer put them down in words.
If your company does not have someone in house, the solution is to collaborate with a thought leader to produce content that will benefit you – either on your own blog or on sites like Business2Community or here.
There are two kinds of content that will benefit any business:
1) Content that clearly explains the benefits of what you do.
2) Content published elsewhere that attracts potential customers back to you.
The first is best produced by someone who thoroughly understands your products and services and edited by someone who writes well. The second is where a quality research writer – or even better, an industry thought leader – comes in.
The best writers are finally starting to be recognized and what they are paid has increased from an average of $75-$150 per post to $300-$500 per post. I expect the best writers to be in high demand because there simply are not that many who write well and also have talents either as a researcher, from business experience, to teach clearly, or as a thought leader.
They tend to know each other, so once you find one you can ask them who they recommend. There are people working right now on ways to identify the most influential, social media savvy writers. Expect to see solutions along those lines in 2013. But you don’t really need them – all you need is to find someone who already knows and can tell you who they are.
Hi Gail, thank you so much for the tip on embedded comments. I turned that on and that should greatly enhance the experience for those commenting on my site. Comments like yours are true gold. I really wish I had a full-time editor to carefully review what I publish and write. But having friends to help me improve the site and catch my errors is a real blessing.
As for my dream of having more of our employee colleagues join the 1%, I agree with you that it is unrealistic for everyone. However, I believe successful businesses will need to activate those with the desire and the knowledge and the skills to communicate in the future in order to be successful.
Customers can now contact our employees already on Twitter and Facebook and through blogs. Smart companies will help their employees who are interested to get trained on how to communicate effectively. I agree that this isn’t for everyone and certainly cannot be forced, but it is going to happen with company support or not.
I remember when I first joined the work force and computers and email were just starting to penetrate companies. I remember informally “training” many older workers who were not too happy that they had to respond to emails. Even just 10 years ago, I had a boss who still dictated his email responses to his assistant. Whether we like it or not, we are all communicators in business today. And my hope is simply that more employees who are interested and capable can join the 1% and share their knowledge externally.
I am seeing those writer services and influence identification services becoming much more prominent. And while I think they have their place, effective content strategy seeks to first take advantage of the talent you already have. As Marcus Sheridan loves to say, “They ask. You answer.” Every employees plays a role in that.
We are on the same page – that all employees who can should be enabled to interact. Even most of those who are hesitant will eventually come around because they are surrounded by others who use mobile devices to teach them.
LOL about you needing an editor. Most writers would be thrilled to write as well as you do. There are some excellent resources on common grammar challenges, capitalization rules, and ways to check spelling. If we simply share those many will do just fine. If they just avoid the most common mistakes, few will know the difference.
I was at IBM when Profs was introduced. Executives were already using it for internal email and to manage tasks and assumed the field employees did too when we had not even seen it yet. It had a feature I ran regularly to see what grade level what you wrote suited. I used to run it because I wanted to know what words it thought were “too big” for people who almost all had college degrees.
That is when I realized that most managers with Masters degrees could not write or spell at even an eighth grade level. Before downsizing and email, that did not matter because they did not write anything themselves.
Many top engineers, programmers, and the bloggers who actually make money aren’t very proficient, either. English is a language with far too many illogical exceptions and particularly challenging for non-native speakers. So if you want to know what they’re doing, you can’t be a “grammar nazi” or leave because they spelled a word wrong.
What I recommend most small businesses do is find a social media savvy, influential writer they can work with consistently for three reasons:
1) They can take what you know and make it understandable for your target audience who may not know your industry jargon.
2) Their established relationships or ability to publish content that benefits you on other domains will raise your visibility.
3) Social media savvy writers with existing audiences have more influence with their followers than you do and can teach your people many skills.
Even if you only work together for a few posts you will get much more out of it than the content created: connections, skills, a person to go to for quick answers, and someone who then knows more about you and is likely to bring you opportunities and add you to new content they are not specifically writing for you.
You are absolutely right Gail. And one of the most important aspects of great content is often missed by even the best writers: great headlines.
On Business 2 Community, we see that every day. Some of the most popular articles aren’t those with the most knowledge or clever analogies but those with the best titles.
Great titles come in 2 forms: they are either really suspenseful or they capitalize on trending keywords.
I’m logging off for the holiday. thanks so much for your comments and have a great one!
Michael & Gail:
I can’t resist jumping in. As a former tech-journalist/editor/writer-turned-custom-publisher/content-marketer, this thread is very near and dear to me. I miss the days of crackerjack copy editors and life-saving proofreaders.
At any rate, this piece from lifehacker offers some good advice: https://lifehacker.com/5968996/how-to-edit-your-own-writing.
I fully agree the need for employee ambassadors , i believe that the fact is that we as users and customers have the ability to taylor our communication channel to receive only what matter to us . Only the content that is relevant AND received via trusted source will reach the target .
In that context the role of marketing and sales start to blur ..in my opnnion marketing should act as a facilitator of great content and tools for the salesforce to share to their trusted networks . And sales should also source their own content and value add to foster their professional brand . Maybe we are not yet there for the average sales rep but the top ,entrepreneurs, owners ..I belive they are leading that way .
( By the way , regarding the proper spelling discussion , it also should consider some allowance when English is not your first leguaje..anyway i apologize for the mistakes here)
Jorge I agree with you completely and your English is perfect. I think marketing and sales need to come together in the new buyer journey and partner to create content that attracts and then converts the right audience.
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