As marketers, we ask a lot of our content. It needs to be evergreen and current at the same time, succinct but still in-depth, niche enough for specific demographics and broad enough for widespread shareability. Those are hard points to hit all the time – which is why many smart businesses rely on variety to reach the widest audience with the best content. Timely content is something that often falls through the gaps in a content marketing strategy, for many reasons. Think about it – even the best editorial calendar can’t predict big news stories, and often pre-planned content means that you’re not keeping an eye out for current ideas that could translate to blogs, social media posts, etc. I’m a big believer in strong editorial planning, so this isn’t a critique; it’s just a fact of life for content marketers.
There are two ways to finesse some well-timed, current content into your marketing schedule: first, schedule in timely posts based on predictable events (holidays, seasons changing, local festivals, etc.), and second, allow enough flexibility in the calendar to fit in current news and unscheduled events as they arise. Timely content in your blog is great for SEO, but you can also use it to boost engagement on social media, and spark email campaigns that feel more urgent and current to recipients. Let’s break it down.
Well-Timed Email Campaigns
For most of us, email marketing campaigns are relatively formulated – well-thought out, tried and tested content that we’ve seen work. But they can feel that way to recipients, too, so anything outside of that mold really stands out. That’s why, at the start of the (rather underwhelming) “Blizzard of 2015,” I was so pleasantly surprised to see the below email in my inbox from Audible:
It’s clever, it’s cute, and it’s oh-so-appropriately timed: the weather event hitting all of the Northeast united us in couch-bound boredom. I’m already Audible’s ideal email recipient since my addiction to audiobooks requires very little encouragement, but the timing on this was perfect – right at the start of the storm when we’re all wondering what to do. Shopping online takes a time commitment, whether it’s audiobooks, tech gadgets or stilettos, and we all have more time on a snow day! Audible already has a very scheduled, regular email marketing strategy, but that regular schedule doesn’t preclude the odd timely, funny or topical email. Take a page from Audible’s playbook by sending occasional email content that speaks to timely events, whether it’s weather, holidays or local events. It will stand out in inboxes!
Current Social Media Posts
Piggybacking on current events isn’t new in the world of social media, but it is effective. These are, after all, the content channels that update constantly, and where people go to talk about what’s happening when it’s happening. I’m not going to get into newsjacking too much here since it’s such a big topic, but you can read more in my blog poston the subject. Timely content doesn’t have to be, or feel like, newsjacking – there are many topics that are current and on-point without feeling like bandwagon marketing opportunities. A few key rules I have for timely social media content:
- Pick topics that are relevant to either your business/industry, or your customers’ interests/industries.
- Don’t stretch it: if it doesn’t feel relevant, don’t bother.
- It’s also safe to use topics that are so widespread that no one could miss them (read: Super Bowl), or that apply to everyone regardless of interests (holidays, seasons changing, etc.)
- Don’t always be selling. Sometimes posts can just be posts!
Check out this great timely post from a vineyardlocal to me – we’re getting lots of snow and the Groundhog did not have good news yesterday! It’s funny, current, and not pushing a sale:
Most horrible examples you’ve seen of poor newsjacking or timely social media content violate that last tenet above – I think we’ve all probably seen some cringe-worthy Veterans Day or MLK Day sales posts. Just say no to tasteless timeliness.
Timely Blog Content that Lasts
Timely blog content is a good idea, obviously. But the best timely content also has an evergreen element to it – otherwise it becomes almost immediately useless to site visitors. My advice for crafting timely yet evergreen blog content is to focus on high quality, informational content, viewed through the lens of a current event, season, news story, etc.
Related Class: Strategic Blogging: The Why and the How
Try popular, successful elements like advice, how to’s, lessons, and tips, but married to a well-timed subject. For example, a detergent company might write about the best ways to get grass stains out, just in time for the start of summer soccer leagues. And if I were selling footwear, you can bet I’d write about how to waterproof them and protect against salt stains right before the next snowstorm. Those things feel current, but wouldn’t seem at all outdated if organic search traffic finds its way there out of season. Incorporating timely topics into your content marketing strategy should be a balance between scheduled and improvised content, always undertaken with an eye to good taste and your overall brand image and voice.