This article was published on March 3, 2014

How to make your content stand out: Give it muscle

How to make your content stand out: Give it muscle
Margit Detweiler
Story by

Margit Detweiler

If you want your online content to have an impact on your audience, it pays to give it some serious muscle. Here’s how…

Make it longer, better, slower, stronger

Sure, your audience has limited time, but if everything is brief, “snackable” and relentless, you may end up getting more unsubscribes than you’d like. Consider changing the length and frequency of your content to make an impact.

Yes, there will always be the scores of OMG political gaffes, animals jumping on trampolines and Ryan Gosling memes. But we’re starting to see a trend away from thinly-reported, quick-hit posts toward longform, magazine-style, well-reported narratives and rich multimedia, experiences (think the Webby/Pulitzer-winning New York Times SnowfallThe Jockey or this Pitchfork feature on the band Bat For Lashes).

When experiences are immersive and compelling, users become more invested. And you might not even need to hire a slew of developers or go quite so big.

Patagonia does a great job with slower, more thoughtful, yet simple content: elegant photo essays, gorgeous, immersive big wave surfing videos, and in-depth profiles of their Ambassadors. You want to spend time on and explore the site, because simply, it’s a great publication.  So when you decide to buy active gear, you’re probably going to feel better about purchasing something from Patagonia.

Adjust the volume

Try slowing down the cadence, too. Make an impact with a weekly schedule instead of daily (radical!) and a make sure to stick to a powerful set of related, thematic features. Take your readers on a longer ride.

Speaking of longer, as we’re all more comfortable reading vertically, there are more and more sites employing scrolling, usually Parallax techniques to tell a visual, interactive story.

The company VonDutch spins a yarn about their namesake Kenneth Howard through super cool iconography and visual wizardry. Every Last Drop UK is just educational storytelling at its most charming. The wide screen, immersive approach lends itself well to narrative storytelling, biography and infographic or educational concepts come to life (see Dangers of Fracking).

Do it live!

What’s better than cooking from a recipe on your iPad? Cooking, live, with a chef that you can tweet and interact with, of course. Companies like The Chopping Block use Google+ for monthly cooking classes where they teach viewers to sauté spinach or trim a tenderloin.

Event-based content using Google Hangouts, Scribble, Ustream or Livestream make it possible to connect with your readers/ consumers in an immediate, humanizing way. But brands are still hesitant to embrace the technology for fear of “Hello? Hello? I can’t hear you…OK now I can’t see you” (and their fears aren’t unwarranted — the technology requires a solid connection from all participants).

Still, this kind of content has legs: with Google Hangouts the content is live streamed and recorded to YouTube — so you can archive it, share it, repurpose it. How-tos, multiple blogger discussions, one-on-one access to experts are all great ways to take your content into real time goodness.

ASOS, a UK-based clothing retailer offered a series of fashion advice Hangouts featuring celebrities and stylists giving two-minute tips to individual users who signed up.

For a different kind of event-based Hangout, consider Scribble, a paid service that allows you to tap into its partner networks through “Scribble Market”(including ABC News and Reuters). If those networks like the content you’re creating, you can find yourself a whole set of new eyeballs. Scribble can also live curate any related topic and the stream can be embedded right into your own site. The NY Daily News used the service for its coverage of Fashion Week.

This article is an excerpt from the Contently ebook ‘Making your Content Stand Out’. You can get the full version here.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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