Not long ago, a few members of the Scoop.it team began discussing the answer to the all too popular question: how do I do content marketing if I’m a startup or professional without a big budget? With that in mind, we created the Lean Content Marketing meetup. 

This evening, we were happy to host the co-founder of the awesome social media tool BufferApp, Leo Widrich (@LeoWid), who shared five awesome lessons that he’s learned over the last two years of developing his very own content marketing strategy.

Two years ago, Leo Widrich and Joel Gascoigne were students in the UK. Who would have thought that Joel’s technical side and Leo’s marketing side would come together to create what we now know as Buffer App in Joel’s college bedroom?

At the time, the new Twitter app they had created didn’t have any users and its two young founders tried relentlessly to get any tech blogs to cover them. When this didn’t work, they asked themselves, “if no one else will write about us, why can’t we just write about ourselves?”

Since Leo was the “marketing guy,” he was charged with putting out as much content as he could to spread the word about Buffer App. Two years and a highly successful social media app later, Leo has learned some of the most important lessons in content marketing:

1. Pick Quantity over Quality

Although this sounds a little unconventional, it makes complete sense with a little explanation. As someone who never actually studied marketing, Leo was far from a content creating expert. He adopted the philosophy that “the only way to get good at something is if you do a huge amount of work, and only then will you be able to get to a level of expertise.” Keeping that in mind, he wrote and published as many blogposts as he could, spending all of his time on content and getting it “out there”, and none of his time second guessing any of it.

“At first, all I did was write and write and write. Over time, I got the experience of knowing which headlines work, which writing styles work, etc. Learning this helps you spend less and less time on your content.”

The best advice that Leo gives on this topic is to learn by doing. There’s no use in spending hours editing and asking others to proofread your posts before you publish them. If you do this, says Leo, you will come to hate blogging. On the contrary, it’s important to not doubt your content, click “Publish,” and learn along the way.

2. The Hidden Power of Images

Statistically, articles that contain images are shared more. But, don’t just throw in an image that has a remote connection to your article; make sure to enhance what you’re saying with images directly related to your claims placed strategically within your post.

3. Copy and Steal

Thirdly, Leo provides another unconventional tip.

“By that,” Leo warns, “I don’t mean copy and paste other peoples content.” 

What he does mean, though, is to not try to “reinvent the wheel” when you’re first starting out with a content strategy. It’s hard enough to produce relevant and interesting content, so why try to create something completely new? Take a look around at similar outlets who are succeeding in your industry and mimic some of their best practices. For example, Buffer App is in the social media sector, so they took ideas and structural cues from Mashable, one of the most successful social media blogs. Be inspired by others, but make sure not to duplicate them.

4. Help 1 other person with each piece of content.

“If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.”

It’s important to think about your audience members and their perspectives. What do they want to learn? With this in mind, focus on one person with each of your blogposts. What does this specific person want to know that you can share with them? By answering that question, you will be able to directly connect with that person and his or her network and begin building relationships there. Imagine if you could do this with each and every one of your blogposts!

5. Show your passion and culture

This seems to be one of the most important philosophies at Buffer App. When the Buffer team first started sending emails, they listened to everything that traditional marketing told them to do. As most of us know, though, traditional marketing doesn’t always work in the startup world (hence, lean content marketing!). When the Buffer team sent out an email with the perfectly designed images, links, and screenshots that a traditional marketing team created for them, they ended up with the lowest open-rate they ever saw. After thinking this strategy through, Leo and the team realized that this wasn’t at all what their company culture was about, and their audience knew it.

If you’ve built a brand personality of being friendly and personal, stick with it in all of your channels of content! In Buffer App’s case, they make sure to use only text in their emails, and sometimes even include a picture of themselves sitting at a table, literally waiting around for their users to respond to their emails and connect with them.

Whatever the personality or philosophy that you’ve established for yourself and your brand may be, if you counter it, it can - and most likely will - hurt you.

To check out the conversation from tonight’s meetup, check out this Storify created by Cindy Solomon.

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