Welcome back to our new series, Content Marketing Deep Dive, where we examine successful brands that consistently produce great content marketing. We'll cover what each brand does well and what you can learn from them, with 3 key takeaways you can begin applying to your content marketing efforts. We'll also take a look at how the brand could improve on their current efforts.
Today we're looking into how Lifehacker writes great content and builds community. I think what really makes Lifehacker such an interesting example is that they're not writing to promote a product (though they do promote and recommend many) and they don't typically write their own original content.
They're very different from what many "experts" consider necessary for great content marketing. As a publisher they most likely have a business model very different from your brand's, however, you still have a lot that you can learn from Lifehacker and apply to your own brand's content marketing efforts!
Insight 1: Engage With Your Audience
"By engaging their audience, Lifehacker's writers add concrete value to every piece of content that they create."
Lifehacker's writers clearly care about engaging with their readers, I've rarely seen a comments section on one of their articles that wasn't full of responses from readers, and equally important, from the person who wrote the post.
People respond to their content for many reasons, some want to thank them for the great advice, some want to share more of their own, some want to share a personal story, and some even want to point out an inaccuracy within the article.
The end result, however, is that by engaging their audience, Lifehacker's writers add concrete value to every piece of content that they create.
Personal stories that support the advice given add social proof. Corrections from readers that turn out to be accurate add a different perspective with more information you may want to consider. Answering a question that one person asked can answer a question that hundreds are wondering the answer to, but haven't asked.
When Lifehacker's readers share their own insights writers actually read and respond to their comments.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR YOUR BRAND
- Engage with your audience - You'll add value to every piece of content you create by encouraging more interactions from your readers.
- Do it consistently - Nobody will bother to comment consistently if you don't bother to comment consistently. Seeing unanswered posts and comments sends the message that you're not paying attention. Why would you try to speak with someone who isn't paying attention to you?
- Be humble - Lifehacker's writers often get claims that they didn't consider some important factor when sharing their advice (I've seen this quite a lot in any type of financial advice articles). Sometimes the reader is the one who overlooked something, and the writer explains their methodology, but there are those rare occasions where the writer did make a mistake, and in those situations they tend to admit they were wrong and make the correction. This is great, because it means the audience contributes directly to the high quality of the content.
Insight 2: Create Content That Adds Value
Lifehacker successfully does something that many content marketers say can't be done, they create great, useful content, despite almost nothing they produce being original.
Lifehacker doesn't just link to this mortgage tool, they also provide some insight into why you might want to have a co-borrower, what they can and can't do to help with your loan, and link to relevant Lifehacker articles someone who is buying a home might be interested in.
Image: Lifehacker Facebook page
Almost every piece of content that Lifehacker publishes is a summary, analysis, or discussion of someone else's content. Yet their writers are still seen as subject matter experts of their particular domains and truly do have an impressive breadth and depth of knowledge about these topics, because they curate so much great content around their chosen area of focus. More importantly, their readers trust them to provide great information that they can't get anywhere else.
Despite not producing original content, they are viewed as a great source of high quality curated content by 23.5 Million unique monthly visitors.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR YOUR BRAND
- Always add value - Whether you're writing something completely unique, putting a new spin or perspective on a topic that's already been beaten to death, or you're summarizing, editorializing, or analyzing something someone else wrote, make sure that your content adds some new value that you couldn't have gotten by just reading the article or tool you linked to.
- Don't get stuck trying to be unique - Content doesn't have to contain some brand new, ground breaking revelation that will shake the foundations of your industry in order to be worth writing. Sometimes just adding a new perspective, some examples from playing around with a tool someone else create that add context or help someone else use it, or some analysis of someone else's content or what your industry is doing as a whole is enough, and could be really useful to your target persona.
- Learn from others - A true expert is a person who acknowledges that they can never know everything, and instead turns to others not only to teach what they know, but also to learn from them. It's clear from the interactions readers have with Lifehacker writers that these authors have real authority on the subjects they write about, and it's also clear that a lot of their expertise came from reading and writing about great content that other people had created.
Insight 3: Build Community Around Your Content
By interacting with commenters and encouraging discussions on their own content with calls to action, and also segmenting their content by topics with a wide appeal like finance, travel, home ownership, and career advice, Lifehacker encourages their readers to keep returning and contributing their own opinions, experiences, and knowledge in the comments.
This approach to not just publishing content, but encouraging interaction both with the authors and between the readers has helped Lifehacker build a community of 11.1 Million returning monthly visitors.
Lifehacker has built a platform where readers are constantly interacting not only with authors, but also each other.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR YOUR BRAND
- Provide a community platform - Whether it's through comments on your blog posts, social media, a forum, or some other method, you want to create a platform where your readers can interact with each other and with you.
- Encourage interaction - Building community around your content encourages readers to return, because they know if they have a question to ask or something to contribute, that option is there for them.
- Moderate discussions - You also want to make sure discussions stay on track and that your community doesn't turn into a haven for trolls. Lifehacker seems to do this mostly through the automated moderation tools within the Kinja platform, but I have seen the occasional scornful comment from a writer when someone went a little too far when debating another reader.
How Could LifeHacker IMprove Their Content Marketing?
Lifehacker does a great job of building community and encouraging interaction on their own website, and Gawker Media isn't shy about promoting their 4.8 Million Facebook fans and 4.7 Million Twitter followers to prospective advertisers, 2.3 Million of which have liked Lifehacker's Facebook page.
However, they're ignoring a huge segment of their community. I averaged the number of comments on all of their Facebook posts over the last 24 hours, and on average their posts saw about 18 comments per post, with some particularly hot topics having over 100 comments.
Yet nobody from Lifehacker, neither the authors nor a community manager, interacts with any of these people in any way. There's a good bit of discussion between readers, but no interaction or moderation (as far as I can tell) from Lifehacker beyond the automated Facebook spam and profanity filters for comments.
It's clear that Lifehacker sees their social media properties as a publishing channel, not a social channel, and that's a big mistake that you should avoid.
Want to learn more about how to consistently create high quality content for your blog, Facebook Page, or other social communities? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing in 2016 and download our ebook on How to Write Great Blog Posts!