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17 Tips for Tip-Based Content – How to Research, Scale & Promote

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tip-of-the-icebergTips are the smallest documentable unit of "how-to" do something. Their presence – or absence – within a target market's SERPs provide phenomenal opportunities for link strategists and other content marketers. Here's a proposed definition of "tips" for marketers and ideas and direction for link strategists and other content marketers on how to utilize tip-based content to meet marketing goals

Importance of Tips to Marketers

You know what a tip is. They're so mundane you may not have examined them at close range.

Tips are tiny concept vessels for preserving and passing along distinct units of practical advice from subject matter experts. From the information-seeker's perspective, tips provide a perceived shortcut to subject matter mastery, and provide a solution to their painful inability.

By providing a tip that enables someone to complete a task, the marketer builds trust and creates further promotion opportunity – from links to shares to downloads to signups. When researching a space, "tips" can include other units of knowledge such as "steps," "checklists," "work sheets," "guidelines," and more.

4 Tips On Understanding the Significance of Tips Within a Vertical

Tips tell marketers a great deal about a given vertical, its publishers, its audiences, and their pains. As you hone your tip-research skills here are 4 things you can look for.

  1. The presence of tips in your vertical demonstrates that there is task-based information demand. Even if your content isn't tip-based, the presence of tips indicates that your market needs information on how to execute relevant tasks. Gathering and organizing tips will help you to understand the range of information demand as well as the various tasks that your audience has problems with.
  2. The absence of tips indicates subject matter mastery may require understanding principles rather than following tips. From a content perspective this will require you and your writers more effort to create successful content. Assuming you're an agency specializing in tip-based content creation, you may be doing the principle to tip distilation based on conjecture or – better still – interviews with subject matter experts.
  3. The absence of tips indicates a content opportunity. Even if subject matter expertise in a vertical requires the understanding of principles, or even an advanced college degree, years in the field, passing a bar exam, etc., the absence of tips means that a smart content marketer can begin the work of distilling general principles into distinct task-oriented directives. You will have difficulty in sourcing your tips, but being "first-to-market" with tips can create significant value for a company.
  4. ID any tip gaps as they overlap with business objectives. Markets with tips are likely to still have "tip gaps." Being able to identify these gaps – especially as they overlap with your content marketing objectives – requires a systematic inventory and categorization of existing tips.

3 Tip Research and Categorization Tips

Digging into a vertical's tips provides a rich well of direction and source material for your own tip-based content.

  1. Inventory tips by combining your subject matter phrases with tip-discovery stems. Your "subject matter phrases" are typically non-PPC, big head keywords that describe your target market, its various practitioners, and/or core concerns that can serve as a root for your tip queries in Google. "Tip discovery query stems" are words like "tips," "ideas," "techniques," "ways to," "how-tos," "advice," and more.
  2. Verticals typically have unique names for types of "tips." "Recipes" are common collections of tips in the cooking vertical; "drills" are ideas for exercises that sport coaches can implement at practice; and "lesson plans" are a sort of education recipe for teachers to follow in class. It's vital that you identify any standard, codified groupings of information in your vertical!
  3. Create a "tip-lopedia" for your vertical's body of tip-based knowledge. If you're working in a vertical for the long-term, or at least for a 6-12 month content-oriented engagement, it makes sense to build your own "tip-lopedia" or tip inventory for cataloging and categorizing all the tips and their sources in your vertical. Then, when it comes time to create content, you can parcel out your tips based on the requirements the given piece. When you've thoroughly collected tips from a vertical you can more easily discover appropriate categories and groupings for them. These categorizations themselves can become a value-add to a given body of knowledge.

5 Tips for Scalable and Unique Tip-Based Content

Simply rewriting tips doesn't help differentiate your content – or add anything new to your vertical. Here are some ways to use existing tips as a starting point rather than an end goal.

  1. "Unpack" and/or "debunk" tip cliches in your vertical. As you build your vertical's tip-lopedia spreadsheet, track the number of times a tip is mentioned or suggested. The most frequently mentioned tips can potentially be split into even smaller tips, or at least written about with more depth, deliberation, and care. It may also be possible or useful to debunk, disprove, or in some way debate the most frequent tips in a vertical.
  2. Many subject matter experts haven't reduced tips and advice to their smallest form. Your vertical's most prominent and important subject matter experts – your niche celebrities – have probably come up with some amazing, if not fully-articulated, tips. It's also probable that they haven't broken these tips down to their smallest possible form.
  3. Tips and tip categories can serve as a basis for group interviews. Knowing the most-frequent tips can be a great place to start an interview with your niche expert celebrities. Ask them to debunk the common tips, or to provide their unique spin on that particular tip. Further, you can ask "what tips besides these most-common tips would you recommend?"
  4. Tips can serve as a basis for infographics or other "utility enhancers." Providing new wrappers for old or standard tips can give your content new life in a vertical. Can making tips printable in some way improve their utility? Can you turn your tip-lopedia into a simple fact-finding or diagnosis application?
  5. Tips in forums, Q/A, and other social media sites are poorly organized. While forums often provide the most useful, actionable tips, they often poorly organized, incompletely explained, and have no "architecture" to them. If forum-based tip sharing happens frequently in your vertical, this is a huge opportunity for tip-sourcing.

4 Tips for Promoting Tip-Based Content

Tip-based content can earn links, shares, and other citations with no promotion. Tip-based content can also perform poorly even with extensive promotion. Here are some tips on promotion:

  1. Cite and notify your tip sources. You are rewriting, rearticulating, and reorganizing their tips to the point that they are no longer recognizable to their originators. However, citing your sources provides an anchor of trust and reliability to your content, and provides you with a promotion opportunity as well when you write to the esteemed subject matter expert to let them know that you referenced them in your humble work.
  2. Target roundup writers. If your vertical has round-up writers, then these are some of the first folks you should target for mention/share/link requests.
  3. Distribute it yourself. Tweet it, share it, put it on your homepage, link to it from guest posts, include the URL in relevant comments, and add it to your monthly email newsletter.
  4. Make sure your content targets a conversion. Tip-based content conversions can include things like signups, downloads, installs, follows, friends, shares, links even sales if you have ebooks or other content for sale.

Photo credit: rietje


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