The idea of brands as publishers — using digital media and social sharing to reach an audience — is empowering. But it also puts a lot of pressure on brand marketers who are increasingly being asked to become content marketers.

Where can marketers go to learn little-known tricks for mastering the art and science of content creation? Straight to the source, to the original content creators: journalists.

Here are 3 key strategies that journalists have used for years. Marketers, feel free to steal these tips and apply them to your own content marketing ASAP.

1. Ask good questions. 

Journalists are known for asking tough questions, digging deep for insights, and having a sense of curiosity. Similarly, marketers can adopt the attitude of asking questions, not only to learn more about customer behavior, but also to engage customers in dialogue.

This idea was a key part of how the hotel conglomerate Hilton used content marketing to double its Facebook fan base to 1 million followers in only four months. 

According to Rob Palleschi, global head of Hilton Hotels & Resorts"Posts that prompt feedback by asking questions or include a call to action....tend do well as they encourage engagement from our social media followers.”

2. Use the appropriate style for the channel.

In an age of always-on, real-time news, it's tempting to find one piece of content and push it to every channel across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinekdIn, and more. But this is a turn-off for your customers.

A journalist would write in a different style, and perhaps on a different topic entirely, for The New York Times versus The Huffington Post. Since publications have varying types of readers, topics of focus, viewpoints, it's important for journalists to tailor their writing when pitching publications. 

In the same vein, brand marketers can't take a one-size fits all approach to content. If you have a good start — say, a recipe you want to share that uses your product — think about how your customers interact on Facebook versus Twitter, and whether the types of customers on each platform are different. Then adjust the content for each channel so that it resonates and offers value.

3. Explain why the reader (or customer) should care.

Journalists know the importance of relevance. Why would a reader care about this article? They summarize the news story and overall importance quickly and concisely, then dive into details.  

This is applicable to brand marketers because it provides guardrails around what kind of content to produce based on what your customers care about.

For example, if you're a sports drink brand, you could talk about:

  • The one tell-tale sign of dehydration among healthy adults
  • When to re-hydrate during a work out
  • How to decide whether a high-impact or low-impact workout is right for you

These could come in the form of tweets, infographics, photos, news articles, videos, interesting statistics, and more. The key is to make the content interesting and relevant so that it adds value to the customer's life, much like a journalist strives to produce articles that are informative and enriching.