Chances are, if you’re dipping a toe in the murky waters of content marketing, then you’ll be considering publishing articles or blogs online.
These are well-established forms for engaging with audiences and raising brand awareness. Even with the dominance of online video, written content is still a highly effective marketing tool.
But, if you’re thinking of using written content, you may find it confusing when it comes to choosing, or even identifying, your format:
- Firstly, is there a difference between an article or a blog?
- Secondly, if there is a difference, which will work best for you?
Here’s the problem, finding agreement about articles and blogs is difficult. Some sources say that, yes, they’re different, because blogs are more personal, but articles are more generally informative.
But another view is that blogs are self-published online, while articles may also be published on third-party platforms or even in print.
Does it even matter? Well, it might do if you’re commissioning work from a third party. You’ll want to have clarity about what kind of content creation you’re investing in.
Here’s what I think. You can describe your content as either a blog or an article. The description doesn’t determine the content. What you choose to include in your content should come down to what you want it to do.
I’ll come to the issue of tone of voice later, but this is a big factor in determining the overall approach of your content. Plus, it should influence how it feels for your audience to read it.
Article or blog, the labels don’t really matter. What does make a huge difference is the content strategy that should underpin this content.
What’s Goes into a Content Strategy?
The first question is who is your audience? You can’t set about creating content unless you know who you’re aiming it at.
You might have more than one type of reader, or you might have a very specialised sector you’re appealing to.
Either way, knowing this will help you determine the type of content you’re going to produce.
Then you’ve got to look at what your content is going to say to your audience. You should focus it on their needs and pain points.
What problems are they looking to solve? What knowledge are they wanting to acquire?
Once you know what you want to give your audience, you can look at types of content, including articles or blogs, ebooks, whitepaper reports, infographics or videos.
You’ll need to decide on the channels you’re going to use for your content, such as social media platforms, landing pages and your main website.
Then you’ll need to schedule your content and, obviously, make sure you’ve got someone on hand to create it for you.
Finally, and this is also hugely important, you’ve got to measure the performance of your content, and refine what you’re doing where necessary.
Content and Your Tone of Voice
Traditionally, you think of tone of voice as something that applies to the spoken word:
“Don’t take that tone of voice with me!”
But your tone of voice runs through all sorts of communications. If you get a letter from HMRC, its tone of voice will feel very different from an Oxfam fundraising newsletter. Both types of content may be asking you for money but doing it in very different ways.
Your brand will have a tone of voice, and this tone of voice should come through in your content.
If you supply specialist scientific instruments, for example, then you might create content that is more technical and neutral in tone, talking about the benefits of these products and the types of tests they can carry out.
On the other hand, if you offer adult cycle training classes, your tone of voice will probably be more person-focused, informal and friendly.
You could define both of these examples as either an article or a blog. The difference isn’t in the definition but in the tone of voice.
Tone of voice can be tricky to get right. It’s about striking the right balance between presenting your content as authoritative and ensuring its accessibility for your audience.
Article or blog?
The question could just as easily be whitepaper report or ebook – don’t get hung up on labels for your content.
What you should be thinking about when you set out to create or commission content are these things:
- Who is your target audience?
- What do you want your content to achieve?
- What is your brand’s tone of voice?
- What channels will you use to promote your content?
- How will you measure its success?
Want to know more about creating and using content for your brand? Give me a call on 07896711853, or email email@example.com