Just the other day someone introduced me to a blogpost that could have fit right in on the pages of KISS Metrics or HubSpot. Instead, it was published on a brand new blog. And I started thinking, how might this blog get from unknown to well-known if it’s already got quality figured out?
Provided we’ve got the goods, what’s to help you or me stand out from the crowd?
Quality, in many ways, has become a commodity—a mass-produced, ubiquitous good in large supply. Social media marketing and content marketing have evolved to the point that lots of people really good at creating quality work. This is great news for consumers. But what does it mean for us marketers?
If quality is a commodity, perhaps consistency is the key.
That’s my theory at least. Let me explain more.
Consistency pizza: 4 keys to bringing people back for more
Let’s start off with a definition: What are we talking about when we talk about consistency?
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? For me, consistency conjures images of schedules and deadlines (probably due to journalism classes hardwired into my brain). And a consistent schedule is definitely part of the equation. But there’s a lot more to it as well.
In my mind, ideal consistency should be a four-part formula (or a four-slice pizza, if you prefer):
- Consistent volume
- Consistent quality
- Consistent voice
- Consistent topics
Consistent volume – When can I expect new stuff?
i.e., Are you posting at a regular interval?
A “regular interval” can be taken a number of different ways. Some folks aim for a quota of social shares each day. Others simply want to post an update daily or weekly or monthly. You can set whatever schedule you choose, then be sure to stick with it.
The same applies for blog posts and emails (like the example below from Paul Jarvis). Find a schedule that works for you, then keep posting, sharing, and creating so visitors have a reason to come back for more.
(With most of these factors for consistency, you can think about them in terms of opposites. What’s the opposite of posting at a regular interval? Posting willy-nilly whenever the mood or time strikes you. Some big-name bloggers do this; I’d say they’re the exception rather than the rule. If you go this route, at least set up an email list so that your readers don’t have to check back for new posts; instead, you can check back with your readers.)
Consistent quality – Will the majority of your posts be as valuable as this one?
i.e., Next time I check in, will I find something great to read and share?
Quality is often what pulls me in to a new page, profile, or blog, and if the quality continues over time, I’m hooked. We’ve talked already about how quality can be created by anyone. It’s consistent quality that often separates the unknown from the well-known.
(Notice how some of these elements play off each other? It becomes more and more difficult to churn out quality post after quality post, and the harder it becomes, the more likely it is that consistent volume will begin to tail off, too.)
Consistent voice – Can I trust the person behind the content?
i.e., Does each post share a consistent set of values and outlook?
We’ve tried to adopt a voice of positivity and helpfulness with our Buffer communication on social media, in the comments, in emails, and on the blog. If we were to slip in a few cynical tweets here and there, it’d be way out of line with our consistent voice.
Have you come up with a voice and tone for your social media and content? Now’s a great time to start.
Consistent topics – Will you write about the same things?
i.e., Will you keep posting about the stuff I’ve come here to see?
Consistency with topics hearkens back to finding a focus and a niche for your social sharing or your blog. What kind of stuff do you cover? Your followers and readers will appreciate knowing what to expect with the content you produce. It’s why you write a bio. It’s why you categorize and tag.
What a consistently awesome profile or page looks like
When I surf a Twitter feed to curate content, I find myself going tweet-by-tweet, opening new tab after new tab as I collect interesting links to read and share. When I’m on a consistently awesome profile, my tabs get crazy out of hand.
Hiten Shah’s Twitter account is one of those awesome profiles. Here’s a small sample of his latest tweets and retweets, each of which would have earned a clickthru from me.
And it never fails. I come back to his Twitter profile at least once a week to find great content, and there’s always a browserful of interesting links to click.
I’ve noticed the same phenomenon at the blogs I love. I subscribe to over 50 blogs in Feedly, many of which publish a huge dose of stories I want to read. Take 99u, for instance. Here’s a look at their list of posts in Feedly, along with the stories I’ve marked to read.
Have you noticed the same thing with the social profiles you love and the blogs you follow?
Consistency and the Buffer blog: How we got here
Our co-founder Leo started the Buffer blog from scratch and helped build it to where it is today. How did we get here? I know that some of the strategies included guest posting, syndication, and unique content.
I think consistency had a lot to do with it, too.
Before I came on full time at Buffer, I was a full-time Buffer blog reader because there always seemed to be a useful, actionable post that caught my attention on the blog (consistent quality). Leo and Belle posted many times each week (consistent volume) on subjects that were of interest to me (consistent topics). And they did so in a highly enjoyable, positive way (consistent voice).
Bingo! I was hooked!
The strategy of consistency might not have been an overt one back then, and it’s still not necessarily one of our tentpole strategies today (for instance, we strive to only post articles when they’re at their absolute best, not on a rigid time schedule). But even still you can see the makings of a consistent blog: We post four or more times per week, we focus on social media topics, we aim for well-researched and actionable advice, and we try to keep things fun, positive and helpful.
The good news: You don’t have to talk about consistency to reap the benefits.
Consistency, wiggle room, and making the sale
When you’ve created a culture of consistency on your social profile or blog, you’ve earned a little wiggle room. You get the benefit of the doubt when 90 percent of your content fits the mold and 10 percent
And what might you do with that wiggle room?
Copyblogger makes a sale. Specifically, they promote their training solution in the same space that they promote their awesome content marketing articles.
Does the occasional sales pitch drive readers away in droves? Likely not. Copyblogger is one of the most-respected, most-visited blogs in their industry.
What they’ve done is earned an opportunity with their readers by building a consistent relationship.
3 ideas to maintain consistency with your marketing
I read an interesting quote from Neil Patel that helped put consistency in perspective for me:
If you are looking to stand out in the social media world, you don’t have to come up with something unique or creative. You just have to be willing to put in the time.
Perseverance and determination are part and parcel of consistency. Beyond that, here are a handful of ideas to keep your consistency on track.
1. Schedule your sharing
This is perhaps the greatest shortcut to better consistency: Schedule your posts ahead of time. Scheduling apps (like Buffer and others) let you build up a queue of content that gets shared at the intervals you choose. You can work this schedule right into your automation and engagement strategy, and having a queue to fall back on is an ideal way to future proof your consistency.
2. Batch your creativity
To come up with your posts, you’ll need to come up with ideas. This output of creativity can happen any number of different ways (here’s how we do it); I’d suggest it’s best to batch the job. Do your creative brainstorming in chunks rather than here and there. Batching the process can help maximize your time when you get in a groove, and you can create a store of good ideas to come back to when the well is dry.
3. Find new content sources
One thing you may notice about some of the best Twitter profiles is that they love to retweet. And to retweet, you have to read. Those who are pros at Twitter pull inspiration from a variety of sources; the pros have built paths to finding great content to share quickly, easily, and instantly.
Over to you: How important is consistency in your marketing?
What do you think about the theory of consistency? Do you happen to use it in your marketing efforts? Do you have any data or stories that support its value?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments!