The Internet has been called the “new economy” and if there’s one thing for sure about the new economy, it’s remarkably similar to the old economy. Location, traffic, and conversions are paramount. How do you get traffic and convert visitors to revenue? Content. As Bill Gates said a while ago, “Content is king.”

At some point you’ve probably had times when you’ve struggled to produce content for your website. A basic understanding of the different types of content can help you plan your content strategy and produce material that will attract readers. Here are some of the most popular types we use with our clients.

1. Blog Posts

There are several different flavors of blog posts, each designed to offer the reader something entertaining and/or valuable. Here is a list, although it’s by no means comprehensive:

  • Lists
  • News
  • Opinion
  • Essay
  • Product Review
  • DIY (Do It Yourself) or Step-by-Step Guide
  • Tutorial
  • Roundup or Link Aggregation

2. Longform content

  • Longform blog post (more than 1,200 words)
  • Downloadable Guide
  • eBook

3. Social Media posts

Think of this as your 140-character chunks of content that you shoot out onto Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. Of course, the 140-character limit only applies to Twitter, but you get the idea. These are short (maybe just one sentence) thoughts you share via your social media channels. These fit into a few categories and it’s important to understand the difference:

  • Content
    The social media nugget itself is content, for example a joke, a quote, or a piece of advice.
  • Shared Content
    This is when you share articles, memes, tweets or status updates from people you follow. The content should be something that will prove helpful to your audience.
  • Conversations
    Brands and individuals are using their social media channels to directly connect and converse with their followers. You can provide customer support, answer product questions, generate sales leads, or just share enthusiasm over shared experiences or content. It’s also a great idea to thank people who converse with you on your Facebook wall or via Twitter, it’s good etiquette.
  • Crowd Sourcing
    Have a problem you need solved? Turn to the hundreds or maybe thousands of followers you have on social media. Maybe you need advice on a new product line or volunteers for a charity event. Or maybe you need help finding a hotel in the city where you’re going for an industry conference.
  • Marketing
    This can be the most abused use of social media, where brands and individuals blatantly hawk their products and services. Avoid the temptation to do this very often. Instead, share good content, write valuable blog posts in your industry, and offer answers to often asked questions. One way to market effectively can be to offer discounts exclusively to your social media followers. Maybe you require them to check in to your physical location to qualify for a 10% discount or free shipping.

4. Video

Video is growing in popularity every year and it doesn’t appear that it will change any time soon. Within this category you have several options:

  • Entertainment
    The key here is to plan ahead – few people can be funny or entertaining spontaneously. Write a script or make an outline to make sure you stick to it and produce a quality video.
  • Tutorial
    This type of video is very popular. It answers a specific question, helping the visitor accomplish a task. It should be clear, easy to follow, and fairly brief. Use screen shots if your tutorial has to do with software.
  • White Board
    If you have a strong personality who has a very firm command on a subject, get him or her on camera and have them explain  it using a white board. These types of videos can really help establish you and your brand as leaders in your field and go a long way to generating leads.
  • Testimonial
    Done correctly, a testimonial can lend credibility to you business and service. Make sure you have a script and use a well-spoken, enthusiastic (and authentic) customer.
  • Documentary
    More difficult to produce, the documentary can be a very powerful and viral video message. Unless you have top-notch video professionals on your staff, hire a film maker.
  • Tour
    If you have a physical location (or are a realtor) this makes perfect sense, obviously.
  • Commercial
    If you invest time and money in a commercial for television or even radio, make sure the production company provides a copy for use on your website and other promotional materials.
  • And probably many more

It’s important to note that in most cases the video shouldn’t be more than 2-3 minutes long, and probably stick to about 90 seconds if you can. Viewers simply won’t watch videos longer than that. Also, note that Google owns YouTube, so the production of (useful and popular) video on your website is something that will help your rankings in that search engine.

5. Email Newsletters

A strong email list is a goldmine for most businesses. Make sure you acquire the addresses legitimately (no one wants to be spammed) and then treat it like a rolodex of your most loyal followers. A few things about email newsletters:

  • Have a strategy to produce content on a regular basis for both your email newsletter and your website. Promote both within your email.
  • Deliver your newlstters no more than weekly, in fact monthly is probably best for most organizations.
  • Include clear call to action items in the newsletter to urge your subscribers to go to your website, download a file, etc.
  • Allow the subscribers a clear way to manage their subscription.
  • Deliver the newsletter in both an HTML and text version.
  • Write catchy subject lines that will entice subscribers to read your newsletter.
  • Make sure you ask people to join your email newsletter list by including a sign-up form on your website on every page.
  • Never sell or share your lists with third parties unless you ask your subscribers first.
  • Give readers a way to easily share the newsletter with friends.

6. Photo Galleries

Use images as much as possible, people love to see photos, especially photos that inspire. Make sure visitors can easily share the photos on social media.

7. Infographics

Infographics can present content in a way that a regular blog post cannot – using visuals, charts, graphs, photos, etc. For some good examples visit Cool Inforgraphics.

8. Podcasts

There are now many popular podcasts that attract hundreds of thousands of listeners and more. The key is to have a niche where you can provide unique content that will be engaging to your listeners. Expert guests can be a nice touch. Also critical is to have  schedule that your listeners can rely on.

With a podcast you must be sure to publish frequently. You also need to ensure you have good quality audio and production values.

9. Internet Memes

You probably know what memes are, you just don’t realize it. A meme is a graphic that goes viral on the internet for some reason, often because it’s funny, goofy, or inspiring. Think of the thousands of cat photos with funny captions, or the zen quotes set on a background of a mountain or a tranquil stream.

10. Webinars

If your industry provides services or products (or both) that can be demonstrated via a webinar (a seminar held online with registrants), this is a good idea. Lots of planning and quality curriculum is important, but it can set you apart from your competition.

11. Games

Hundreds of millions of people play games online every year, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. Angry Birds was a silly idea by a gaming company to try to get people to pay for their premium games. Depending on your business, you might be able to provide an interactive game that engages your visitors and goes viral. The more addictive it becomes, the more exposure for your brand.

12. Q&A or Interviews

These can be produced fairly easily in many cases. Most organizations have people who have stories to tell, wisdom to impart, and much more. Interview leaders in your industry and establish your website as a place to get news.

13. Presentations

Sites like Slideshare allow you to upload and share your powerpoint presentations. You’re putting in lots of work creating those presentations for seminars and conferences, you may as well repurpose them and allow even more people to see them.

14. Case Studies

15. White Papers

16. Trend Reports

17. Questionnaires/Surveys

This interactive content is especially effective where you are trying to help your visitors find the help they need, for example a medical solution, a travel destination, self-help, etc. People love to fill out surveys and get instant results.