How-to content can help keep customers engaged, attract the interest of new customers, and promote your solutions to widespread problems.
Creating these quick guides is not easy, even if you’re an expert in the area around which the content revolves.
The Brandwatch React team brought together some data sources and experts to find the most successful how-to content.
In our research, we found four significant trends:
Social media engagement for how-to content is declining.
The production of how-to content is increasing – it is a saturated market.
Despite declining social media engagement, there is a clear need for how-to content.
Video and other visual content forms are best for how-to content, but you need to be smart about it.
Let’s take a closer look at these trends and how to create how-to content that can be successful in the current landscape (yes, that’s how-to content about how-to content).
1. Tendency: Social media engagement with how-to content is declining
We looked at the how-to content by creating a simple search query to see if the mentions surrounding that content type are increasing. That was not the case. As we looked at the data over time, we could see that mentions were steadily declining.
That was strange when we heard about the success of short instructions elsewhere. We, therefore, decided to take a more in-depth look at the subject.
With our friends from BuzzSumo, we took a look at their social media engagement data from Howto content back to 2015. It does not look suitable for engaging social media guidance.
2. Trend 2: Production of how-to content is increasing
When looking at the BuzzSumo data, we noticed something that irritated us: While the commitment declined, the production of short instructions increased sharply.
You can see the uptrend here:
Considering that the social media data shows a lack of interest in how-to content, one might think that these tutorials are oversupplied. But that’s not true – as it turns out, that’s only half the story.
3. Trend: There is a clear need for how-to content
Even though social media engagement, for one thing, is decreasing, the demand can still increase.
This applies precisely too short instructions.
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Trend 4: Video and visual content impress consumers the most
As the graph above, YouTube shows, there is a great need for video content. This is also evident elsewhere.
In the data from BuzzSumo, the most frequently mentioned tweeter in the how-to talks is @YouTube.
According to Think With Google, “Recent research has shown that how-to videos in all categories attract the most attention on YouTube, even more than music or gaming videos.”
Guidance videos seem to be one of the main reasons why consumers visit YouTube.
Tips for creating and promoting how-to content
What we found out is that your how-to content can become popular, but this popularity is unlikely to be in the form of many social media shares.
Creator guides must pay attention to a variety of different things. Here are some tips on choosing the topic and content, the most appropriate platform, and the best way to apply.
Topic and content
There are two ways you can plan your “how-to” material – search data and social media.
In addition to the data presented above, Pi Datametrics was able to identify the most commonly searched terms around how-to content. Here are some insights from the research:
- How-to searches are dominated by trends (Twerk, Floss, Slime, Fortnite / Fortnite Dances)
- Terms about beauty were not as popular as we assumed
- Surprisingly, pest control terms are often sought
- How-to searches on gaming themes peaked on Google and YouTube in July 2016, when PokemonGo was released – though only a few searches using “PokemonGo” related keywords made this category
- Searching for tech topics is higher on Google than on YouTube.
By researching the typical search terms in your industry or products, you can identify which questions your content should most urgently answer. Pi Datametrics’ brand and content manager Louise Linehan says:
“Search data helps you understand what your prospects are looking for when they are looking for, and what questions they are asking. How-to content you can create with these insights gives you the chance to attract the attention of a broad audience, especially when emerging trend themes. Knowing when and for how long a trend is occurring can help you plan how-to content and sales activities at the right time. “
Search data is one way to find the problems that consumers are looking for to solve. Another possibility is social media. Between the 18th and 27th of August, we found 4 million tweets about how-to, which contained a question mark in the tweet, and that without all the retweets. This is a significant need that can be fed with how-to content.
Not only should you analyze the questions to find good topics for how-to content – a quick look at the negative mentions about your product, industry, or competitor can help you identify any questions or issues that most need an answer. When you look at the actual words that consumers use, content can be tailored to each of the problems and verbal questions that solutions are looking for.
Regardless of which topic you’re creating a tutorial for, make sure your content is high quality and truly valuable. You will not achieve anything if you waste the reader’s time.
Platform or medium
We also talked to Heidi Cohen, who wrote the Actionable Marketing Guide. She says Howto content is essential to potential and existing customers, and that visual content works best:
“While how-to content can take on a variety of formats, it’s most valuable in showing how the product can be applied, such as: In the form of recipes and templates, as well as videos and photos that show step-by-step what the viewer needs to do.
Use YouTube and Pinterest for distribution to attract people looking for this solution. Point out the support channels you need in emails or other communication channels after purchase. “
Whichever medium you ultimately choose (written, static images, videos) – make sure it’s most useful to those who are looking for it. Keep in mind what kind of situation they are in, if they are looking for it and what device they are looking for.
No matter how good your how-to content is, if you do not advertise it in the right way, it will not get the results it deserves.
Also, consider where and how a person could search for your content to solve a problem. Make sure it’s optimized for search and easy to find on your website and social media channels.
Divide your audience into different personas and make sure your content fits each of them. If you want to attract customers, you may wish to promote how-to content that addresses issues that can be solved with your product or service. If you’re going to strengthen customer loyalty, for example, you can link to new tutorials in the company newsletter.
The benefits of how-to content are apparent, but the right approach can be challenging. With the tips above, you can hopefully make your customers and potential customers happy and benefit.