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12 Best Practices For Contributed Content

Contributed content and op-eds have become a part of everyone's marketing mix. However creating lots of content attached to the name of a subject matter expert doesn't necessarily mean it's of editorial quality or that it will get the traction you hoped for. We work with many vendors to create content that gets read and shared on InformationWeek, Network Computing and Dark Reading. Here are some of the best practices we use to help our partners produce content that works seamlessly within our own editorial.

Don’t Spin. Because the content will reside within an established and respected editorial community, it should not include a product pitch.

Get people talking. Content should educate readers and provoke conversation or debate.

Have a point. Give advice, take a stand, or provide a detailed analysis. In other words, give readers something to talk about in the comments section. Programs like our Partner Perspective content pieces should be more conversational than reported articles, so say what you think. Challenge your readers!

Keep it fresh. Contributors should look for opportunities to write about timely issues (new security threat, new regulations, etc.) to reveal subject matter expertise and thought leadership to the community. Our brands cover a lot of material each day—as do lots of other media outlets. So try to bring a fresh (even contrarian) perspective to what you write.

Keep it real. Give real-world examples drawn from your own professional experiences or customer experiences. Write about technology and process problems, hurdles, mistakes...not just the grand successes. Readers want to learn from others’ mistakes, and they’ll relate more to articles that present the world as they know it: imperfect with lots of trial and error.

Cite additional info. Links give your piece credibility (as in “Don’t just take my word for it, read what so-and-so says about it”) and position your article as part of an ongoing conversation. By linking to other credible content, magazine articles, and online information resources you guide readers to new resources and establish yourself as an expert voice. If you cite a survey, link to it. If you mention a product, strategy, standard, article, and so on, link to it. You’ll be building reader trust with every valuable link you provide.

What’s next? Give readers a take-away or a call to action.

Tech talk is okay. It’s okay to talk techie and get into specifics, but be sure to give enough explanation so that the non-pros can still get something out of it.

Written commentary should be approximately 500 words in length.

Headlines should be provocative; targeted keywords should be as close to the start of the title as possible as it affects both ranking and click-thru in Google searches. (This is more important than ever because Google has cut the display length of its search titles in order to optimize for mobile devices.)

Lists are highly effective (ahem, 12 Best Practices....).

Don't think that once you post your content that your work is done! Keep an eye on comments and be sure to answer your readers. Everyone likes to be acknowledged. Even a simple answer will show that you’re interested in reader feedback and that will help keep the comments coming.

content marketing, InformationWeek, marketing best practices, content marketing, Tech Marketing Smarts Blog