Question: What tactic improves the quality of your content, increases traffic and makes marketing way more fun?
Answer: Collaborative content marketing.
Think about it. It’s lonely to sit down, day after day, week after week, pumping out one article after another. It’s also boring. And a little sad.
Just think of all of the thousands of bloggers out there, sitting alone in a home office, fingers on the keyboard, tapping out words in 12-point Arial. Another day, another post.
Ok, I admit, that’s me right now.
But it’s not all I do. I also invite others into my writing and content. I reach out to people. I collaborate in my content marketing. And it’s my favorite part of the job.
I’m not just talking about collaborating with people inside the company (but yes, Amanda is a terrific editor and a key ingredient in all of our marketing). I’m talking about collaborating with people on the outside. Experts from around the world. Friends, influencers and allies.
Here are the benefits of getting other people involved in your content marketing process:
Their wisdom, expertise and insights are gold. And a few of their nuggets can add serious value to your piece. It’s also a fresh voice that breaks up that monotonous thing you were about to publish.
“The connections you grow between others who are aligned around a common theme are internet gold too. You create a virtuous circle of support and grow a valuable network.”- Susan Noyes, Founder, Make It Better Media
Your contributors have an audience too. And since they contributed to your piece, they are likely to share it. The technical term for this is ego bait. But it’s better to think of it this way.
“Sure, it might be ego bait, but when you start asking yourself ‘who has my NEXT customer as their CURRENT customer?’ you’ll find willing collaborators who have the power to grow your business,” – Andrew Davis, akadrewdavis.com
And that’s important. Maybe the job hazards in our industry don’t involve forklift accidents. But there is a real risk of burnout. Let’s face it, it’s a lot of work to publish 2.5 million posts …every …single ….day!
So anything that adds fun is a good thing. And working with others keeps it interesting. That’s what friends are for.
So now we know the secret to loving our jobs while making better content with more traffic, let’s jump into the practical details.
“Collaboration gets you out from behind your computer to build relationships human-to-human. Don’t be shy. Remember what your mother taught you—Be polite, smile and mind your manners!”- Heidi Cohen, actionablemarketingguide.com
There are probably more than five, but here are the big ones that you’ll see most often. I’ll put these in order from the simple and quick to the full-on partnership.
This one is more about content sharing than co-creation. And it’s very simple. While writing an article, you add a quote that was written by someone somewhere. The quote should strengthen the writing, adding insight or evidence.
Now when you publish the piece, you let them know that you quoted them with the hopes they will share it.
Often you let them know just by tagging them in a social post, so they’ll see it in their notifications.
“A good quote shares insight, anecdotes, instruction, or encouragement. Insight helps the reader understand something better. Anecdotes are personal stories or experiences. Instructions gives the reader next steps, and encouragement reassures the reader that they’ll be okay moving forward.”- Kadesha Smith, founder and CEO of CareContent
The downside is that they weren’t expecting to be mentioned, they aren’t really invested in the content, so they aren’t that likely to invest much effort into sharing it.
Still, you can make this more effective in a few ways.
“The Beatles knew it. So too did The Everly Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel and even Sonny and Cher. You make better music when you collaborate. Content marketers can apply the idea in so many ways to create more compelling content, expand their audience, and build meaningful relationships.” – Barry Feldman, Feldman Creative
This one is my favorite. It’s a fast, friendly way to upgrade your content. As you write, watch for weak spots. Where did you make a claim that needs support? Where is your article boring?
These are where the quotes go. Next, you reach out to an expert and ask nicely for a contributor quote. It might be someone who is already in your network. That’s easy.
If the perfect contributor isn’t a friend yet, then you might want to let them get to know you a bit before asking for help. There are a lot of ways to connect to people online. If they’re a big time influencer, take it slow.
You’re a journalist. Contributors are your sources. If you can, add a contributor quote to every article. Make it one of your editorial guidelines.
Here are ways to upgrade the effectiveness of your contributor quotes:
“I know you’re a pro at interviews. I’m writing an article on that topic. Could you send me a few sentences with your top tip for interviewing? If you send it by Friday, I’ll work it into the piece. Thanks!”
And how do you make it easy for them to share it once it’s live? We’ll get into that in just a minute.
“As a source, contributing to articles allows me to share my expertise and to expand my reach to new audiences. And for the article itself, the contributor quote adds a nice element of external perspective that might be missing otherwise.” – Kaleigh Moore, freelance writer
As with the “quote and mention” above, you can let your contributors know the post is live by tagging them in social media.
Here’s a screenshot of the content promotion champion, Jason Quey, using LinkedIn to mention the contributors to a collaborative piece of content.
It’s a popular format for a good reason. Round ups work pretty well. They hit all three notes of quality, traffic and networking. They’re scannable like a list post and they’re filled with ego bait.
But there are two very different ways to do them.
As a reader, I’m biased. I prefer the expert panel. These mega roundups are getting so big, that I just scan through looking for familiar faces. I mean, this is a lot of people.
But the quality depends on the contributions and the curator’s ability to organize and add value. A good example is when we asked some of the top SEO experts to debunk the myth of duplicate content.
Here are ways to do better roundups:
Example: Robbie Richards ask 97 experts to list their top SEO tools. But he didn’t just post the list. He turned this mega-roundup into a survey. By ranking the top ten by the most “votes” he added value and insight.
Here’s the opposite approach. Let’s pick one expert, slow down and really dig in…
Most podcasts and webinars are based on this format. So are TV talk shows and many live events. If you get the right expert, you’ll want to squeeze every drop of wisdom out of them.
Here are tips for better interviews:
Example: Wine & Web is a monthly teaching event in our office here in Chicago. Each year, the last event is me interviewing Gini Dietrich in front of a digital fireplace. It’s an hour-long deep dive interview. Gini’s an expert on PR metrics, and we are lucky to get her insights!
Think about it. Every guest post is a collaboration. It’s almost a transaction. The guest brings the content, and the blog brings the audience. But there’s more to it.
Note: If people often reach out to you to write for your blog, it’s likely that they are looking for another benefit. They want the SEO benefit of a link. They are using guest blogging to increase their domain authority. It’s not necessarily spammy or unethical, but it’s important to understand their motives.
“One of the biggest advantages to collaborating on content is gaining exposure and access to a new audience. It’s a great way to grow your own list of subscribers, gain new followers and promote high quality content you’ve used before on a new audience. In addition, collaborating with a new partner provides your own followers with high quality content you may not have been able to create yourself.” – Talia Wolf, taliagw.com
For better collaboration with your guest bloggers, try this:
Well, actually there is. It’s at the end of the word marketing. But you get the idea.
Collaboration, and I sincerely believe this, is the biggest difference between good and great marketing. There’s just no substitute. We’ve shared a lot of advice on this blog over the last 10 years. This might be the best of it.
“Partnering in today’s marketing environment isn’t easy, but if you have the humility to believe that everyone’s audience is valuable and the confidence to share your audience with others, you’ll see the exponential benefits of content collaborating,” – Andrew Davis, akadrewdavis.com
It’s a long road, content. This isn’t a sprint. So the old saying goes…
If I knew who said that, I’d tag them when sharing this on social media.