Where Do I Go From Here? Six Popular Formats For Your Business’s Creative Content

So if you’ve caught onto the idea that your online business should be creating original content, you might be worrying about what sort of content you should create. After all, there are a lot of different formats and styles out there on the web, and nobody wants to get stuck with a Frankenstein monster of a failed creative plan. Not every company lends itself to the same content.

But don’t worry! We’ll briefly walk through a few different formats for original content. Be on the lookout for formats that best fit your company’s content needs!

Text—Blogging

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Blog articles are a fairly common way of creating and sharing original content, and if you’re currently reading this article, surprise, you’ve found a company sharing content through a blogging platform.

Blogs are one of the easiest and most effective ways to share content. The trickiest task for a blog is generating topics related to your product.  But if you can talk about it, you can blog about it. Blogs are usually best-known for sharing text—articles, primarily—but most blogging platforms offer you the ability to upload photo and video content as well. They also allow you to interact with your followers, many of whom will be your customers.

Your website is an excellent place to either host your blog, or to link to a blog that you’ve set up on another platform. Check out these free blogging sites  for reference!

Pros: Easy to share, easy to provide information, allows for integration of other medias, popular format, a lot of hosted websites offer blog options

Cons: Can be a little time consuming, requires a lot of reader investment.

Three Tips for Writing Blog Posts

  • School House Rock: Competent Writing — To make your reader’s experience smooth and enjoyable, your text posts should be largely free of errors in spelling and grammar. You should also write in a voice that feels natural to you. Your readers will be able to tell if your writing feels forced. Maybe you have a more serious, informative voice. Maybe you like to think up slightly-corny subheaders and reference Game of Thrones like it’s 2013. Who knows.
  • Fashion, Fashion Baby: Attractive Design — Grammar aside, you want the text itself to be approachable, both in design and in content. People like pretty blogs, end of story. You want your blog to be just as appealing as your website, and you want it to reflect your brand.
  • You Better Shape Up: Serve a Purpose — Whether it’s to entertain, perform, or persuade, your blog needs to accomplish something for your readers.

Videos

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Video blogs have been incredibly popular since the rise of YouTube the Ultimate in Procrastination, and they’re still popular formats for creative content today. While most businesses might not immediately think of videos as their go-to creative content, it’s a format with a lot of appeal! Videos are very easily shared on the Internet, which means that your content (and your company’s name) spreads to a wide audience.  How many times have you been on Facebook and clicked on a shared video about pancake art? A newly marketed invention? An indie singer? And then found yourself clicking related links for hours?

If you have a major event for your company—maybe you’re opening a physical store, something exciting and film-able—why not livestream it from your website?

Pros: Very accessible, easy to share, more interactive for your viewers, popular format

Cons: Time consuming (especially with editing), you need someone comfortable with being on-camera

Two Tips for Creating Videos

  • Time After Time: Serve a Purpose! — This is the last time this article will repeat this, but it applies for all content creation. It doesn’t have to be a lofty or noble goal, but your content should serve a purpose for your audience, even it’s as simple as entertaining them for five minutes before their boss checks what they’re doing on their computer.
  • Flawless: Remember to Edit — Make sure your videos are clean and well filmed; they’re an extension of your brand, and you want them to reflect the quality and seriousness of your company rather than remind people of Windows tutorials from the early 2000s.

How-To/Tutorials

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How-to style content can be shared through both a blog format and a video format, but it’s such a helpful little system that it seemed to deserve its own category. How-to articles are catchy and informative, and they give your reader something concrete as a takeaway. Everyone loves learning something immediately, and they’re a great way to plug your products or services without seeming too advertise-y. It’s also very easy to write how-to articles, just go step by step.

Pros: Engaging and informative, highly searched on the Internet, easy to create

Cons: Easy to overdo or become dependent on, sometimes repetitive

Two Tips for Creating How-To Tutorials

  • Think Before You Speak/Write: Be Very Clear — The whole point of a how-to article is to convey precise instructions to your audience. Make sure they’re easy to understand, or the whole article’s lost its point.
  • Picture Perfect: Try to Use Visual Aids — Nothing helps your reader more than providing pictures to go along with your instructions. And if you’re sharing your tutorial through video, then you’ve already gotten that one down-pat.

Photography and Visual Graphics

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This format is especially useful if your product relies on a very visual medium. A bakery with an online site that does custom cake designs for the local area, for example, could produce a lot of amazing content by sharing photos of some of their most popular, beautiful, or outrageous cakes. Pics like these can often go viral and promote the craftsmanship of your product. Photographs are easy to share, and there are plenty of sites that let you link shared photos to your site—we’re talking Instagram, or even Facebook (Take a look at Instagram for business!!) The same goes for other visual medium content, like infographics, which can be info-heavy and even sport statistics while still being engaging.

Pros: Immediately conveys your work, easy to share, promotes your product

Cons: Provides less information (ignoring the infographic), doesn’t often broaden your content out from your original product

Two Tips for Photographic Content

  • Say Grade-A-Organic-Cheese: Photo Quality – Bad yearbook photos just won’t cut it here. Just like videos need editing, photographs should look professional and clean, and should always be high resolution. Remember, your content reflects your company.
  • That’s Not My Name: Proper Keywords — Tagging your photos might seem less important than putting keywords to a text. But you need to ensure that your pictures are search engine friendly and shareable as any other form of content.

Podcasts

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Podcasts provide a number of the same benefits that videos do—your customer gets to associate a voice and a tone with your company and brand, and they’re a fun way of getting a lot of information out there on a variety of topics related to your business. And like blogs or videos, podcasts are a format that can handle a multitude of subjects in compelling ways, like hosting interviews.

Pros: Lots of information, great for experimenting with sources of information, pretty constant base of listeners once you’ve built up a following, can be vaguely unscripted, very different

Cons: Not quite as popular a format, length

A Quick Tip for Podcasts:

  • Are You Not Entertained? Pacing — Since podcasts don’t have a visual element, they can be a little tricky to keep fast-paced and interesting throughout, especially since podcasts are typically around 35 minutes long. Make sure that you’re keeping your podcasts engaging, and that you’re using your time wisely.

Interactive Media—Games and Quizzes

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Want to go even further out of the box? A lot of companies are beginning to take advantage of how popular online quizzes and games are becoming, and they’re letting these fun formats become ways to share content that relates to their businesses. Travelocity, for example, sometimes creates quizzes that test their users’ traveling savvy and lets them get more familiar with the places they’ll be adventuring to.

Pros: Fun, interactive, memorable

Cons: Requires more technical know-how

Tips for Interactive Media

  • Because You’re Worth It: Making Worthwhile Content — Nobody likes old slideshow articles that crash your browser, and no one wants to spend very long on any interactive media that’s not fun and exciting.
  • Who Are You? Make Sure You’re Present — Your content still needs to reflect your brand and company in some way, or even your product. Don’t forget that even entertainment has an underlying message or impression.

For any format, it’s important that you be yourself, be your brand, and create quality content. Search for new ideas! Good content requires research and planning. Check out some creative content companies like Buzzfeed and see what useful techniques and strategies you can adopt for your content. And remember that more than one type of content might work really well for your company—don’t be afraid to be adventurous, and let yourself have fun.

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