The days of the print-only content creator are past. Whether creating content for a publication’s social channels, e-newsletter or website, most content creators have one foot in the digital space while continuing to work on their print products.
Print and digital are different animals and need to be fed accordingly — what works for a print diet may not necessarily satisfy digital. Below are 10 things all content creators should consider while making the transition from print to digital.
1. Always Think of the Content Ecosystem
More often than not, you are now creating content for multiple channels. Consider all of the assets you might need to satisfy different channels prior to executing on your content. From getting multiple crops at photo shoots that can be used across social platforms to recording an interview for a podcast, plan ahead so you don’t regret what you didn’t get later.
“Digital has challenged me to think of stories in terms of stages — what to reveal in the moment via social media, what to post online, what to write for the magazine,” says Mpls.St.Paul magazine senior editor Ali Kaplan. “It can get tricky, but it also forces you to think about the audience and to think about how you can best use each space differently, and most effectively.”
2. Multichannel Is a Thing: Adapt Accordingly
The digital space is all about meeting readers at their need state — what information do they want from you at 7 a.m. while surfing through their Twitter feed versus opening your newsletter at 4 p.m.? Make sure the content you’re delivering meets readers’ needs and is delivered in a style and tone fitting of the channel.
3. Congrats, You’re a Numbers Person
Whether you have access to extensive data from Google Analytics or can only pull insights from your social channels, data can and should be a major part of your content planning and execution strategy.
Data can help you focus on what your readers want, what you should put paid support behind or what types of content you should abandon altogether. The readers are telling you what they want through data — listen.
4. Headlines Really, Really Matter
Print publications have the benefit of using images, pull quotes, subheads and other tactics to pull readers into a story.
In many digital spaces, you get a short headline and a few seconds to catch reader’s attention. “Headlines matter a lot more in digital,” says MSP-C editorial director Elizabeth Dehn, “to get clicks, and as reinforcement of a brand’s voice and tone.”
Some things to remember:
- Forget punchy headlines, name-dropping or asking questions — get to the point, fast.
- Case studies have shown that demonstrative adjectives, slightly longer headlines, numbers and positive superlatives help engagement — but so does being straightforward.
- Don’t forget about SEO.
- Use A/B testing when possible.
- Don’t be afraid to edit — make your headline better!
5. SEO Is Important
Knowing and following SEO rules gives you the best chance for increasing your visibility in search engines. The key is using SEO to your advantage to gain visibility while not totally comprimising what your brand is about or what your audience needs. If using a certain word or linking to internal pages helps, then make it work to your advantage!
Why care about SEO?
- It’s an easy way to increase visibility in search engines.
- It creates lead generation opportunities.
- Why create content if no one is going to find it?
- Everyone — aka, your competition — is doing it.
6. There Is a Right Way to Create Content for Digital
With improvements in smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices, people are more willing to spend time engaging with digital content. But it still must be compelling and digestible and meet the reader’s needs.
- Audience comes first.
- Be brief and direct whenever possible.
- It doesn’t always have to be short, but it has to be digestible — visuals are key!
- Avoid transferring content straight from print to digital. Think: Is there another way to present this content?
- Make sure the verbal and visual tone matches the medium/channel.
7. Make User Experience a Priority
As a content creator, you don’t necessarily need to be a UX expert, but you have to be a UX champion. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your digital platforms, and create you content accordingly. If it take a while to load video on your website, don’t develop a robust video strategy!
“Everything matters with digital — editorial, design and UX,” says Kate Rogers, executive editor of Pillsbury.com. “Consider how users will consume your content. Will she be reading on her phone in between meetings? If so, your calls to action should be easy to find, and you better not waste her time with needless words or clunky design.”
8. Work Is Never Done, But You Need to Let Go
Digital content is living, breathing and there forever. You can fix, improve and obsess about it for weeks after it’s published, so it takes a new level of learning when to let go — chances are your readers have already consumed the information and moved on.
9. You’re More Than a Content Creator
You might need to brush off long-repressed customer service skills or learn a little diplomacy because in the digital world, you are exposed. Reactions to content — both positive and negative — can be swift and plentiful.
Learn how to respond in a way that represents yourself, your brand/client and your publication, and is true and beneficial to your audience. Make sure everyone on your team is on the same page before a rogue tweet or curt response to a reader comment leads to a firestorm.
10. Never Forget Your Roots
The attributes that make you a good content creator in print still apply to digital. Never forget to keep standards high, have integrity and put readers first!
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