Content Beyond Words

We know you’re struggling to get your site just right — and you need an unstoppable plan for your content.  Even though there are about a zillion different ways you can arrange words to fit on the screen, from reviews to product guides and even the occasional case study, sometimes words aren’t going to cut it.  You know, sometimes you have to mix it up a bit.  That’s when you break out content that’s not just about words, words, words.

Now, I’m not recommending you use word-free content frequently, or even often, but now and again, your readers are going to appreciate a break from more of your self-serving blah blah blah.  When the dog has started running away from the sound of your keyboard clacking, you know everybody needs a change of pace.  Here are some of my favorite types of content that go well beyond the written word and can add a little spice to your blog:

Infographics.  The infographic is today’s undisputed biggest marketing fad.  They’re in, they’re out — we love them, we hate them.  Infographics give you a way of presenting data that other forms of communication simply can’t by combining words with graphics and charts.  Not only do you end up with something uber-sharable, your resident graphic designer will probably stop sticking your head on cows and emailing the entire office out of boredom.

Slide Shows.  Slide shows are a cool way of showing a change over time or illustrating a process without wasting words.  Of course, you can include a voice overlay that explains what the Hell is going on, but that’s up to you.  Whatever you do, though, leave out the trite instrumental music for its own sake.  Unless it’s actually moving your slide show forward or is part of your marketing plan, it’s just in the way — and it’s really fucking annoying.

Videos.  You can make a big impact with videos, but they can be a very costly form of content.  Not only do you need scriptwriters and actors, you need a high quality production team.  You can’t skimp on this stuff because a B-video is just as bad as a B-movie.  Make a great video related to your product and it’ll set the Internet on fire with how fast it gets shared.  A B-video might get shared just as fast, but for the wrong reasons.

Comics.  Aside from sites that belong to comics like TheOatmeal, the Awkward Yeti or XKCD, you don’t really see many comics on blogs.  This is a real shame, because they’re awesome and have the potential to blow up the web if done properly.  If your company has a sense of humor and your brand image allows it, talk to a comic artist about putting together a few panels here and there about your company or your industry.  You’ll have blog readers eating out of your hands.

Podcasts.  At Top Shelf, we have actually done a number of Google Hangouts, which can be a sort of Podcast if you set the thing right, and we’ve found them to be great engagement tools.  Not only do they allow the site’s readers to get a glimpse at the people behind the scenes (everybody loves spoilers), podcasts are another way to reach users who might otherwise skip long, boring, blowhard posts.

Memes.  This one’s a little trickier — and you’ve got to be prepared to fail, because the chances are good that you will.  But if you want a piece of content with the potential to go viral, memes might be the thing.  Make sure you follow a proper format and that you’re actually funny (no, your mom’s opinion doesn’t count) before hitting publish, though.  If your meme falls flat instead of going viral, you can always try making another meme making fun of your last one.

There’s no such thing as a perfect content strategy and there’s no such thing as a perfect blog.  All you can do is have a rough plan and try to learn from your trials and errors as you go.  But, by mixing it up and incorporating content that’s not just words, you give your visitors a chance to see another side of your brand and tell you exactly what it is that interests them.