1. Make it original. This is one of the most challenging aspects to content development, but if you want your content to stand out, it has to be different from everything else that's out there.
2. Make it useful. This may seem like a no-brainer, but too many organizations have too difficult a time stepping away from fluffy marketing-speak. People will read and pass along content that is purposeful and meaningful--something that helps them do their jobs, makes them clearly understand a complex topic, or just helps them see something in a new and refreshing way.
3. Make it fresh. If your organization decides to, say, set up a blog, there has to be a commitment to updating the blog on a regular basis. Few things turn people away faster than a blog whose last post was published months ago. It's a good idea to set up a schedule for posting, especially when several different people may be posting to one blog or social networking site.
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4. Go out on a limb. Provocative content will attract attention. Of course, there's a difference between provocative and offensive or outrageous. You need to find that line, which is admittedly not always easy. If you're not sure, a good rule of thumb is to run your content by at least a couple of trusted colleagues before posting. Once it's out there, it's out there.
5. Don't ignore comments. Once you post your content, people may comment on it. In fact, you want people to comment on and share your content, and you need to listen for any activity relating to that content. But that goes both ways--it's the nature of social and it's good business. Responding to criticism (without being defensive), answering questions, providing additional insight, and so on will engender affinity and continue to brand individuals and organizations not only as experts but as go-to entities.
6. Put things in perspective. It's easy to share a news story; it's much more challenging, but of much more value, to put the news story in fresh and meaningful perspective for your audience.
7. Match the message to the medium. Some content works better in a PDF whitepaper form, some works better within a Web page, and some works better as a video. It's important to align the content with the platform on which you are delivering it. For example, it would be a waste of people's time and company bandwidth if this list of recommendations were offered as a video. At the same time, a Q&A with a company executive might work better in video than written form.
8. Employ (updated) SEO best practices. The increasing importance of social, local, and video, among other things, is changing the way people search for content and how Google returns results.
9. Write well. Spelling does count. Good grammar and punctuation count, as well. The days of lowering standards because "it's only for the Web" are thankfully over. And, if you think they're not, watch how quickly your message gets lost when people spend all their time commenting on the fact that your subjects and verbs don't agree.
10. Be empathetic. As a publisher, which is really what many organizations are turning out to be, you can't go wrong if you start the process by asking yourself, "What do my customers need?" Creating content that meets those needs will have value. Period.
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