4 elements every content medium needs to have

Have you ever started to write a new social media post, record a YouTube video or some other piece of content and sat at your desk waiting for inspiration to strike?

Starting a new piece of content can be a challenge, even when you know what you want to say. You have a general concept of the message you want to deliver, but not the faintest idea of how you’re going to share it all in a single blog post, video or social media caption.

Formulating what you want to communicate while ensuring you produce something of quality is a challenge that many face when it comes to content marketing.

There are many elements that go into a great piece of content. So much, that it’s pretty simple to overlook the key pieces that every piece of content, regardless of medium, needs to have.

The four elements below make up those key pieces and will help your content go far, maybe even hit that virality you’ve been hoping for. When it’s time for you to create a new piece of content, make sure to define each of the following.

1. A topic that addresses consumer pain points

Whether it’s an ironic tweet or a blog post addressing recent issues, the topic can make or break your content piece. If you don’t connect with your audience from the topic, even the most entertaining content won’t generate results other than a like or perhaps a share. Content topics need to address consumer pain points and provide solutions for its audience. 

Wynn does a great job of providing solutions and entertaining their audience with their email newsletter content during COVID-19 times. Their newsletter offers customers a way to still have an experience with Wynn without stepping foot in their hotel chain. 

Each section of the newsletter features a different topic about connection and addresses their customers pain points as they navigate this pandemic. 

Wynn understands what their customers’ pain points are and how to provide solutions, without opening their physical doors. You need to define these paint points for your own audience by answering the following: 

  • What issues does your demographic currently face?
  • What kind of information are they searching for?
  • What questions are they asking on social media versus search engines?
  • Are they looking to be entertained, informed, or both?
  • What do you want them to do with your content? 

Think of this step as your topic KPIs of content creation. If after creating the content a brand new user can easily explain what the content is about and what they are expected to do, then you’ve accomplished addressing a topic that matches what your users are looking for. 

You can measure this a step further by analyzing time on page vs bounce rate metrics for content published on a website. 

Low Bounce Rate + High Time on Page

This is the magic combination that you want to aim for. When you have a low percentage of people bouncing away from the content and a high amount of time spent on the page (the visitor engaging with the content) then you’ve created a topic that the visitor was able to connect with. 

High Bounce Rate + Low Time on Page

This is the worst combination and generally means that a visitor is bouncing right off of the page, not digesting the content, and is usually due to not meeting topic expectations. This happens a lot with clickbait style topics – those types of articles or social media posts that don’t deliver past the headline. When you receive results like this it’s best to re-evaluate the content topic and medium choice.

2. Discovery keywords to help your content be found

Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day, supporting the argument that every piece of content must have some form of keyword optimization in order to accommodate searches and be found. 

Think about your own search habits. When you look for anything specific on a search engine, a video streaming platform, or one of the many social media platforms, how do you find it?

Generally, it’s by typing a keyword related to your inquiry in the search box.

Facebook has the option to search using names, locations, and terms. Instagram allows you to search by username, locations, and hashtags. Pinterest allows you to search by term or topic. 

Google, Yahoo!, and Bing can produce results for just about any bit of information you could possibly enter. YouTube allows you to search by video channel and search term. The list goes on and on, and results are generated based on relevance and popularity. 

This is why choosing discovery keywords, keywords with the sole intent of being used to help a piece of content be discovered, is included on this content template. If you want your target audience to find your new content it must be properly optimized by the platform and utilize discovery keywords. 

How else will anyone naturally find it? 

However, as you have probably gathered, choosing discovery keywords doesn’t always look the same. For example, for social content, this means hashtags sprinkled within the text accompanying any photos or videos that you are sharing. For website content, this means inserting short- or long-tail keywords within your web copy, titles, blog posts, articles, etc. aka good old fashioned keyword optimization. 

Of course, you have to avoid overstuffing. On social media overstuffing can look like going over 30 hashtags on Instagram or tweeting just a bunch of hashtags. You want your keywords to serve the purpose of optimizing your content to be found, and only that.

To find keywords on social media, type in a topic in the search bar and see which hashtags populate. Hashtags with posts or reach under 500,000 are usually competitive, but reachable. Hashtags with a million+ are generally too competitive and can be compared to the top 3 results on Page One, which  sometimes only the big players accomplish. 

Keywords for your video and website content can be found using a variety of keyword tools. I like to take it a step further and research what questions people are asking about specific topics. Doing so not only generates new topic ideas, but also generates long-tail keyword options. 

3. A clear call to action and defined user intent

No matter what type of business you are operating, the goal is for your consumers to do something as a result of your content. 

Think about what that “conversion” means to you. What action would a consumer have to make as a result of your content for you to consider your content efforts a success? 

This could mean signing up for your email list, liking a post, purchasing a product, opting into a subscription, attending a webinar, downloading a freebie, or… anything, so long as it reaps positive results for your business and sales cycle. 

When content is well-donned with a call to action, it leaves little question as to the intention of the message and what your audience should do next. It essentially handholds them toward your end goal, making their journey simple and obvious

For example, website content can (and should!) have an “above-the-fold” call to action that visitors can see as soon as they land on the site, as well as reminders throughout. This is often in the form of a newsletter opt-in button that is pasted halfway through a blog post, a #linkinbio hashtag on an Instagram post, or a bulleted list at the top of an infographic page. 

Facebook content creators and advertisers have the option to add a button telling readers to “Shop Now,” “Learn More,” “Book Now,” etc. YouTubers can add linkable graphic overlays directing viewers to products, social media pages, business websites, and more.

It’s essential that every piece of content you create include a clear call to action, so your connection with your consumer isn’t short-lived. If you’re not sure if the call to action is clear, send the content to a family member and see what action they take. If they missed the point entirely, evaluate the following:

  • Your Positioning: What you are asking a visitor to do and if it’s something they can easily do from their device (mobile vs desktop)
  • Your Topic: Did the content topic align with what you expect the visitor to do? Is it a clear pathway from the social media copy to the landing page?
  • Your Content Medium: Is the medium you chose the best funnel to guide a visitor to take the action? Asking someone to make a purchase through a LinkedIn post isn’t as effective as in a Facebook Ad. 

4. A message that can be shared across multiple mediums 

The content your business creates should communicate how and why your brand’s perspectives, values, products, and services stand apart from the rest. Concurrently, it should be relatable and tailored to whichever platform you are creating for and the users you want to see the content. 

Content creation is a healthy combination of story-telling and convincing, which requires highly valuable and authoritative writing and creativity – necessary, if you are going to get your consumers to act on that carefully crafted call to action we talked about. 

However, these stories shouldn’t be thrown together willy-nilly; they should be born from the aforementioned keyword research and a strategic topic ideation process.

Once you have identified worthwhile topics, ensure that you are able to create multi-purpose content out of it. Let’s face it, the content creation process isn’t quick or easy, so it makes sense to publish all your hard work and research across multiple platforms and content mediums. 

Leverage this time and effort by creating content that can be formed into a blog post, infographic, social media post, and video – multiple mediums using the same topic. Your messaging will be the same, but each medium is used to help guide a visitor through a different stage of the sales cycle. 

For example, a piece of content about iron skillets can be featured in the following ways:

  • A YouTube video demonstrating five quick, hands-on tips for cleaning your cast iron skillet
  • An infographic illustrating the benefits of cleaning this skillet a certain way, linking to the video demonstration
  • The demonstration may then direct viewers to a blog post reviewing the company’s favorite cast iron skillet recipes, as well as an e-commerce store where consumers can purchase one. 

Each one of these mediums helps to educate a visitor and carry them through the sales cycle as they gather more information and become more comfortable making a purchase decision.

Having flexible content topics that your demographic wants to learn from or be entertained by will allow you to create this kind of content on multiple mediums. This also sets you up for being able to reuse successful content topics in the future and update some of those lesser-performing content pieces.

Content creation is no simple process for any medium, so don’t forget to include these four elements with every new piece of content.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Ashley is an international speaker and VP of Operations at TopHatRank, a search and social agency based in Los Angeles. She has worked extensively both in-house and with multiple agencies helping brands grow their businesses online. Speaking both internationally and throughout the US, Ashley regularly teaches digital marketing workshops and speaks at industry conferences like Content Marketing World, Pubcon, BrightonSEO, SearchLove, Digital Summit, Retail Global, and the prestigious SMS Sydney. Ashley has also co-authored the best-selling book “The Better Business Book V.2” and is a contributing writer to industry blogs. With over 8 years of experience in the digital marketing industry and a journalism/PR background, Ashley provides tons of first-hand experience and case studies.

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