By Scott Decker

7 Superheroic Content Formats To Power Up Your Content Strategy

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content strategy inspired by the avengers

Maybe it’s just the buzz of Comic-Con last week, but this feels like the summer of the superheroes with Age of Ultron smashing box office records and the release of Ant-Man coming soon. When I was young, superheroes were content for just us geeks. The world is different now and these stories delight fans of all ages and walks of life.

One aspect of the Avengers movies I love is the teamwork. We know that in all things, teams can help make individual contributions stronger and some tasks are just too big for even a really amazing single person. In sports, you can’t expect every player to be LeBron James, just like you can’t expect to have an all Norse-god superhero team (there’s only one Thor).

Likewise, as you think about your content strategy for publishing or content marketing, it’s a challenge to make every piece of content you create be a Thor-like creation with all the attributes you’d like to see: targeted subjects, timely production, SEO value, quick creation, and utterly share-worthy. Even the biggest editorial and content marketing teams only have so much time to create original, carefully researched articles, videos, or infographics.

That’s where a strategy of content format teamwork comes in. Rather than expect to rely on only one format to suit your content needs, why not build a set of diverse formats that will work together to deliver highly relevant, useful, and engaging content to your audience? This allows you to balance quality, quantity, and the various channels where your customers can be found, helping you achieve your goals.

Content Formats Assemble!

Here’s our breakdown of useful long-form and short-form content formats into a super-team of outputs that will help power up any company’s content strategy.

Branded Original Content (Thor)Thor Content Strategy

Let’s start with our content version of Thor, that branded piece full of optimized SEO value, thought-provoking new ideas, and wonderful character that your audience has come to expect from your editorial team or brand. Long-form content certainly has a role on your team, but the time and resources to produce these pieces can be as rare as a Norse God. Using other formats below will, however, give you more time to compose and research these valuable cornerstones of your content strategy.

Roundup/Digest Articles (Iron Man)

Iron Man is part man, part machine and better for the combo. Like him, the curated roundup of high quality content (articles, videos, etc.) may include machine-optimized Robert_Downey_Jr_iron_man2external content along with your (human) original commentary to provide a roundup of content about a specific story, idea, or just updates on an industry or interest. The important process of selecting specific content and adding an annotation to put the content into context for your audience while infusing your brand or editorial identity is key to the success of this format. While these short-form articles are quick to produce, show thought leadership, and can help recirculate previously created content from your own properties (you can curate your own content, of course!), they can also have SEO value with more than 200 words of original content, according to SEO expert Bruce Clay. (Example: FOX Sports)

Curated Content Articles (Black Widow)Black Widow  Content Strategy

Black Widow may not have the strength of Thor, but she’s quick, smart, and has a lot of power – definitely the equivalent of a curated article that includes your commentary. Smart content curation is an efficient way to get relevant news out to your audience before you have time to write a full article on a subject or to expand coverage into new areas (a good way to test if you should spend more time on a related subject). Sharing a curated article or embedded video on your site with your annotation shows your audience that you are a reliable source for breaking news. (Example: Sage Software)

Email Newsletters (Captain America)Captain America Content Strategy

Cap is the right metaphor for the tried-and-true email newsletter since he’s a reliable classic that still packs a punch. Don’t believe those who tell you that email is dead. Email newsletters are delivered right to your audiences’ workspace (inbox), so you want to make sure they are relevant and worthwhile – and frequent enough to get their attention. If you use the above formats, you can build enough content inventory to segment additional newsletters to get targeted material to different audiences. Also, you can keep your newsletter links exclusively to your website or blog, especially with those quick-to-produce Curated Content Articles, where readers can explore the rest of what you have to offer.

Social Publishing and Amplification (The Hulk)Hulk Content Strategy

Social is definitely your big green monster because there’s incredible power but can be hard to contain. There are two aspects to social publishing: amplifying content on your site AND sharing relevant content you curate to show thought leadership while helping your followers stay informed. Even better, if you’re pairing social with Black Widow content curation posts, those curated thought leadership tweets and updates are driving clicks back to your site to hear your branded commentary first.

Newswires (Hawkeye)

Yeah, he’s a guy with a bow, but he’s quick and sometimes you just need reliable support. Hawkeye is the automated newswire of our content format team. While newswires won’t get you much traffic or any branded engagement, it’s still a good way to provide supporting value with breaking, industry/interest-specific news that is relevant for your audience. (Example: Agriculture.com)

BONUS – Centralize Your Work in a Content Platform (S.H.I.E.L.D.)

S.H.I.E.L.D. is the organization that supports the Avengers in the movies and comics, with the key word being “organization”. An ideal way to prepare yourself to produce content marketing assets or editorial pages is to organize and tag your existing content for repurposing and recirculation in these various formats. Combine that with external content you’re monitoring and you have the perfect starting point to create and optimize every one of the formats in this content strategy. S.H.I.E.L.D. relies on forward-thinking technology to do so and the industry’s most advanced content platform can definitely help you here.

With Great Power Comes A Great Content Strategy

With this super-team of content formats, you will save your audience from the clutches of irrelevant and useless content. This variety in your content formats means you can deliver on your content strategy across all channels with more reliability and flexibility tuned to your specific goals and resources. Importantly, this cross-section of formats also allows you to test which ones perform best and repeat those that show they are hitting the KPIs of your content strategy.

Not convinced that a super-team of content formats can save the day for your editorial or content marketing? Well, check out these success stories from publishers and brands who have employed a combination of these powerhouse formats to achieve their content strategy goals.

By Scott Decker
Scott Decker is the President and Founder of PublishThis. Before PublishThis, he led technology at Edmunds.com, Blue Nile, and development solutions for the government. When he’s not running PublishThis, the industry’s most advanced content platform, he’s exploring new technologies, preparing for next Halloween, or watching something with superheroes, dinosaurs, or at least a lot of explosions.

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