This is Part one of our guide to content marketing for recruiters and HR folk. What is content marketing, why you should care, and how to build a content marketing strategy that sets you up for success (including 6 top tips to help you decide what to write about). If you’re looking for the best, free online recruitment system, click here to start using Recruiteze!
What is Content Marketing?
You’d have to be going some not to have heard of content marketing, but just in case, here’s a quick definition from the Content Marketing Institute:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Why Content Marketing?
We’ve written about this before – recruitment and HR is about marketing as much as it’s about sales, and content is an integral part of marketing today.
Not so long ago, outbound marketing ruled the playground but that’s changed completely.
Outbound is all me, me, me – that shouty guy who turns every conversation into a personal anecdote. Marketers collectively realized that people like outbound marketing about as much as they like “that guy”, so they stopped placing such emphasis on it.
Inbound, a term as good as owned by HubSpot, is about giving. It rests on the idea that you can attract people in by offering them something they want – interesting, valuable content.
For recruiters and HR professionals, outbound means spamming potential candidates or clients with an onslaught of cold emails and untargeted LinkedIn messages.
Inbound means sharing relevant information, advice and insight that your network will want to consume. It means building a community, based on adding-value. It means building a reputation as a thought-leader. It means, above all, engaging with your candidates earlier in the lifecycle – long before they’re ever looking for a job.
6 Magnificent Benefits of Content Marketing
A list within a guide, whatever will they think of next…
Marketing has a habit of getting expensive, quickly. Not so with content marketing. It’s one of the least expensive forms of marketing there is, and it’s
13 times more likely to achieve a positive ROI. More results, less marketing spend – it’s an obvious choice.
Most types of marketing require specialist skills, tools, experience – that isn’t necessarily the case with content marketing. With a bit of practice, anyone can get good at it, whether a junior recruiter or a senior HR professional.
The more content you share, the more visible you are to your target audience, whether clients or candidates. You know what they say – out of sight out of mind. Content marketing means you need never be out of sight.
The more serious older sister of visibility, credibility is a critical part of building your employer or recruiter brand. Content marketing allows you to cultivate a reputation as a thought-leader within your industry, so candidates/clients will be more likely to work with you.
Credibility and trust come hand in hand. Creating valuable and useful content means giving rather than taking, adding value rather than acting out of self-interest. This build trusts, and trust is the platform for a thriving relationship.
Targets Passive Candidates
Content marketing allows you to capture candidates or clients earlier in the conversion funnel, which increases your chances of conversion.
Previously, a candidate might only come across a recruiter if they’re actively looking for a job, typing a search term such as “tech recruiter in San Fran” into Google. If you’re creating content, you can target candidates earlier, while they’re still passive – maybe a term like “hate my boss”, for example.
Get on your candidates/client’s radar earlier and you have more chance of them choosing you when they do come to the decision making stage.
Convinced? Here’s the first step.
Building a Content Strategy
Before you can effectively start ‘doing’ content marketing, you need a content strategy. If you skip this step, you’ll struggle to keep your efforts on track, and you’ll be less able to generate tangible ROI.
These are the decisions you’ll need to make.
– Curation vs. Creation –
This is a pretty critical stage: what are you actually going to post? Your content marketing strategy shouldn’t just rely on content from you. Rallyverse explain why:
1) Because you don’t want to talk about yourself all day.
(It’s boring and self-absorbed).
2) Because you may not have enough owned content.
(It can be tough to create).
The first of those is less relevant – if you’re doing content marketing properly it really shouldn’t be focussed on you. Think tips and tricks, interviews, guides, lists, how-to’s, walk-through videos – anything that adds value to your audience.
As Kevan Lee from Buffer notes, “Self-promotion can be a good thing if your content is outstandingly useful and always adds value”.
The second is a limitation most companies will experience – creating content takes time. It takes internal resources. It takes someone to write it, and the money to pay them, and all of those things.
There are brands out there who only share their own content – Buffer is one – but they’ll openly admit that it takes deep pockets. Instead, it’s probably more relevant to share a mix of your own content (content creation) and content from others (content curation).
– Timing –
When you post can have a big impact on the engagement you get on your content. It makes sense to post at the optimal times, when you’ve already put all that effort into creating content.
You’ll likely be posting in a number of places – the platform you use to publish your content, and the social networks you use to promote it.
If you’re part of the HR team in a larger organisation, your company might well have a dedicated blog, or even a dedicated careers blog. Alternatively, there are external platforms you can post on, the most common being LinkedIn Pulse.
Check out this infographic from Microsoft for optimal posting times for the main social platforms – remember though, these should only ever be guidelines and you’ll soon pick up your own best practices.
– Frequency –
How often you post is equally important. Just as with timing, though, you don’t have to blindly follow advice. Each market will be different, whether you’re targeting tech folk in Silicon Valley or FTSE 50 Executives. Start out with a frequency that’s been proven to work and then adapt as you learn what works for you.
Buffer and SumAll’s infographic list of the average social media frequencies could be a good starting point.
– Topics –
“But I don’t know what to write about!” seems to be one of the most common complaints about getting started with content marketing.
Stumped for ideas? Try these 6 top tips.
- Competitor research
Look at what’s working for your competitors. Which topics are they writing about? Which posts are most popular? Follow them on social media and observe their frequency, timing, tone and style too.
Buzzsumo is exceptional, allowing you to search either domain names or keywords to see which content is performing best. A must-use.
- Candidate/Client research
Recruiters and HR professionals spend all day talking to people – which gives you a direct line straight into your target audience.
The best way to be sure you’re creating useful content is to ask your audience what they’ll find useful – so just ask them. Find out what their challenges, aspirations and questions are and write content that caters to that.
- Hot Topics
Keep yourself in the loop when it comes to events in your industry and write relevant content around them. If you can attend, do, but you don’t have to actually be there to leverage the popularity of the topic. It’s like hashtag jacking, but for content marketers.
- Break it down
If in doubt, break your topics down into smaller parts. Repurpose everything. Interviews, lists, top quotes, a video – each idea should be able to be used multiple ways and from multiple angles.
- Keyword research
Keyword research is another way to make sure you’re writing relevant, useful content but more scalable than simply asking them, as in point 2. Find out the keywords people are actually using to search for content, and you’ll know where the demand is.
If you’re part of a big company, it’s likely you’ll have an SEO team already doing this sort of research. Ask for access to their lists and you’ll instantly have an idea of the sort of content people want to read.
Alternatively, UberSuggest is a fantastic free tool that gives you a list of keyword suggestions based on actual Google searches. You’ll lack the specific data you’d need to build a proper SEO content strategy, but it can be a great way to come up with ideas.
- Content Ideation Tools
So, you probably don’t want to rely on these. They’re more as a last resort when you need something to spark an idea – but they can be useful.
ContentIdeator, HubSpot Blog Topic Generator and Portent’s Content Idea Generator are three of the best.
Once you’ve covered those four points, the final step is to create a content calendar – so everyone involved in your content marketing strategy can see who’s doing what and when. There are various content calendar tools out there too.
And you’re done. A nice n’ shiny content marketing strategy all ready to go. The next step is actually executing it, which needn’t be as daunting as it sounds. You’ll have to wait for Part 2 for that though, where we talk through the fundamentals of writing amazing content.
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