Everyone is talking about the power of a great story. Communicators everywhere are transforming into storytellers. Yet, what good is a story that isn’t read? A story is not like the Field of Dreams. No matter how compelling it may be, your audience will not naturally gravitate to it. You need to take your story to where they are.

That’s where a content marketing strategy comes in.

While content marketing may seem like a complicated new craft, simply put it is the application of traditional communications and storytelling strategies across a wide-range of digital media platforms.

Digital channels —websites, blogs, apps, social media —have changed the way people consume information. Happily, that creates new opportunities to syndicate stories about the organizations we represent. Done well, it can improve search results, word of mouth buzz, and earned media placements, increasing the chance that your audience will see your story.

Search Results

There is a joke circulating that the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google search results. Who clicks through to the second page? If someone is looking for information about your organization or the issues you care about, your content needs to show up in those first ten results.

Organic search drives about 50 percent of all web traffic and content creation is considered the most effective search engine optimization (SEO) tactic (source).

Word of Mouth Buzz

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that 72 percent of Americans cite in-person and phone conversations as the most common way that they hear about news. And 25 percent of 18-25 year olds cite social media as the most common source. (source link: http://stateofthemedia.org/2013/special-reports-landing-page/friends-and-family-important-drivers-of-news/)

Whether online or offline, we trust people like us. If your friends, family, colleagues or others you respect are talking about something, you are more likely to be interested.

Earned Media Placements

For years we’ve all had concerns about the changing landscape of traditional (or legacy) media outlets. Yet Americans are actually consuming more news than ever—from both traditional and non-traditional sources. Should the thought of abandoning a media relations strategy cross your mind, remember this: local television news still reaches 9 out of 10 Americans (source).

So, reporters remain a critical path to reaching our audiences and they are hungry for great stories. Social media is a great way to feed them ideas. Nearly 60 percent confess that they use social media to find ideas for stories (source).

Take some time to think about where you go to find information. You likely are not so different from the people you are trying to reach. Where do you go first? How can you make sure you (and your audience) will find your story there?

Now that you know why content marketing matters, stay tuned for my next post on how to build an effective content marketing strategy.

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holly-potter Holly Potter is a consultant passionate about applying branding and communications strategies to advance social change.