If you want to be successful curating and creating your own content, you need to know the types of content your audience wants to consume. But what are the most valuable content mediums and formats?
Obviously, some of this is going to depend on your target audience. For example, younger people tend to be more involved on social media and online forums, while older people consume more traditional media, like TV shows and newspaper articles. You’ll need to consider your audience, your competition, and your specific industry carefully before making any decisions about which content mediums and formats to use.
Still, we can perform an introductory analysis of which content types are most valuable.
What is valuable in the world of content marketing? If you ask ten different people, you’re probably going to get ten different answers. There’s also some room for subjective analysis here. But we can generally define value in a few different ways:
- Cost of creation. How much time and money does it take to create this content? All other things being equal, a piece of written content is going to be more valuable than a highly produced video, simply because the written content is going to be cheaper and/or take less time. The value here comes from what is essentially a bigger profit margin: you get better results for less initial money.
- Reach. We also need to consider the potential reach of each content medium. Certain platforms and formats have bigger audiences and wider potential reach than others. If you could reach 10,000 people instead of 100, wouldn’t you want to do it? You can reach far more people on social media than on a local radio program – at least, hypothetically.
- Engagement. What about engagement? Different content mediums lend themselves to different levels and types of consumer engagement. Some types of content demand full attention, such as detailed whitepapers. Others can be consumed as background noise, like conversational podcasts. Some types of content are more interactive, providing more meaning to the individuals consuming it, like two-way webinars that include Q&A opportunities, while others are more passive, like simple photos on Instagram.
- Conversion. What is the likelihood of this content leading to a conversion? Is this content well suited to inspiring specific user action? Almost any type of content has the potential to encourage conversion, but some mediums tend to be more convenient; for example, blog posts with hyperlinks are easy to click, while podcasts with audio advertisements require passive listeners to take additional steps like turning on the computer and visiting a specific website.
The Most Valuable Content Mediums and Formats
These are some of the most valuable and most common content mediums and formats you can choose from.
- Conferences, seminars, and webinars. Finding conferences can sometimes be challenging for attendees, especially if they don’t know where to begin. But with sufficient marketing backing your event, and a decent final turnout, conferences, seminars, and webinars can support high turnouts and become highly engaging. You can display core content in a slideshow presentation or across a multitude of events, and encourage other people to interact with each other. The only downside is that conferences and similar events tend to be expensive and complicated to put together; you’ll have to pay for hosting, materials, speakers, and sometimes accommodations like venue reservations and hotel stays.
- Videos. Most content marketers will tell you that video is one of the most powerful modern content mediums because it’s quick and easy to consume, and much easier for a consumer to process than written content. Human beings process visual information quicker, so video is highly engaging. However, video can be tricky and expensive to produce, and there’s a lot of competition to contend with.
- Mixed media articles. Mixed media articles are written articles with splashes of other types of content mixed in, such as illustrative graphs or photos. These articles are more valuable than standalone written articles, since they engage readers with visual, written, and sometimes even audio content at the same time. Because of this, they can demonstrate information in different contexts. They are also reasonably inexpensive and easy to publish, making them even more appealing.
- Podcasts. Podcasts have consistently grown in popularity over the years, with 73 percent of the U.S. population now listening on at least a monthly basis. Podcasts are cheap and easy to produce, requiring very little equipment, yet they have a remarkable ability to reach millions of people. One downside of podcasts, however, is that many people listen to them while multitasking, making them slightly less engaging and less likely to convert than other mediums.
- User generated content. User generated content doesn’t require much effort on your part at all. You can invite guest posters to your blog, use a competition to encourage people to contribute photos, or try some other methodology; at the end of your effort, you’ll have a pool of content you paid nothing (or next to nothing) to create, and your users will be naturally engaged with it since it came from the community.
- eBooks. As far as written content goes, eBooks may be the most valuable. People love the idea of diving deep into a topic that captures their interest, and eBooks are much more prestigious and valued than basic blog articles. Whether you sell your eBooks or just offer them for free in exchange for contact information, this medium has a significant payoff.
- Whitepapers. You can think of whitepapers as a smaller and less intensive version of an eBook. They take far less time, money, and effort to put together, but they can have almost as much of an impact.
- Email newsletters. Don’t neglect the power of email newsletters. Email is one of the most valuable marketing channels you can use, in part because of its inexpensiveness. There are many free platforms for coordinating email blasts, so as long as you have a list of loyal subscribers, you can extract value from them
- Guest articles. Finally, consider the power of posting your own material on an external publisher’s website. This won’t cost you much time or effort, but it could instantly connect you with thousands of new people. As an added bonus, guest articles are an excellent way to build links and therefore improve your search engine optimization (SEO).
It’s impossible to definitively declare any single content medium as being the most valuable. That’s because each content medium has different strengths and weaknesses, and those strengths and weaknesses will change depending on who’s wielding the content and what quality of content is created.
Still, this guide should introduce you to some of the unique qualities of the most valuable types of content you can provide your users, laying the groundwork for your content marketing selection process.