Need to break down your content into engaging, bite-sized chunks? Look no further than an old fashioned Q&A
One of the first decisions to be made in the content marketing editorial process concerns format. Which format best suits the topic in hand? The range of options may vary according to your brand’s preferred channels, but there tends to be three basic choices:
Article – e.g. a blog posting, something more insight-heavy or a lifestyle piece
Video – talking head interviews, animation explainers or even a mini-doc
Infographic – stats-led or a step-by-step guide
All three have pros and cons and their deployment should be carefully considered depending on what best suits the audience, subject and platform.
But if we agree that successful content marketing is the spreading of information in as engaging a way as possible, a Q&A fits the bill on a number of levels. It could be just the format your brand has been looking for.
Good content marketing relies on providing a human element to the content. Whether you’re launching a new product or raising awareness of an issue, battering the audience over the head with details and technicalities is a recipe for disaster (or even worse, you might just be ignored).
A Q&A is an easy and effective way of inserting the human factor into your content.
If the subject is complicated, you can break it down into as many parts as required.
Q1: What is X all about?
Q2: Wait, you mean that X is effective for Y?
Q3: But can you use X with Z or not?
The human element of asking questions immediately increases the engagement level of your content and eliminates any risk of it being unclear.
There are plenty of ways of making content more interactive. It might simply be a case of opening up comments underneath a blog posting. Or you could host a webinar – in which case, check out our tips on how to pull one off successfully.
Webinars are great for organically bringing your audience into the content itself. But if you don’t wish to host a webinar, that audience voice can be brought in through a Q&A.
Q&As have an inherent interactivity which works across all formats. Looking at our initial three options of article, video or infographic – a Q&A can be used effectively with them all.
If we take the most typical form of a Q&A to be written content, there are multiple SEO advantages of the format.
Long, unbroken passages of text not only seem more impenetrable and less appealing to an audience, they also fall down the pecking order when it comes to Google search results. Breaking up text with regular sub-headings is an obvious way to help your SEO score, something which happens implicitly with Q&As.
Google snippets – the special featured box which often appears above search results when you ask a question on Google – have recently been seen as a holy grail of SEO success.
As ever with Google, the formula for how to win that particular SEO race is cloudy. But this research from the CMI has uncovered some methods for success, such as:
1. Create content that directly answers questions
2. Know the questions your readers are asking
Sound familiar? There is no clearer way to address those two factors than by formatting your content as a Q&A – the ultimate content marketing tool.