Comparing 5 Content Types (And a Framework for Choosing Yours)

by Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

Not sure which type of content to use in your marketing strategy? Allow me to commiserate. There’s a ton of content in the world of content marketing, and it can get overwhelming when deciding which type to choose.

Fortunately, through the childlike magic of statistical science, we know the five best ways to deliver content. Unfortunately, carrier pigeons, Batman signals, and Vulcan mind melds didn’t make it on the list.

Without further ado, are you ready to consider which type of content to include in your marketing strategy? Let’s go!

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1. List Posts

The humble list post is the most popular type of content. Shockingly, it even beats out video as the king of content.

Why is this? There’s actually three very powerful reasons:

+Lists are easy to scan

Here’s the equation: time is limited and the Internet is vast. The result: the majority of your readers will scan through your posts, just like you’re probably doing with this one right now.

But that’s okay because this post was created to be scannable. It is a list post, afterall. See what I did there?

+Lists set expectations

When you read the title of a list post, you know immediately what this type of content to expect. A list post is generally a straightforward rundown. It must fulfill the requirements of the title.

Who wants to read a list that promises nine ways to do bla bla bla and then you see there’s only four? It’ll feel like a ripoff, even if it was a glaring typo.

+Lists are informative without being overwhelming

Pick a topic, any topic. A list post gives you the opportunity to share a staggering amount of information without overwhelming the reader.

That’s because all of the presented facts, points, or tips are broken down into easily digestible parts. The reader won’t be forced to read through your entire post. Instead, he or she can zero in to what parts interest them the most.

What’s the best number to choose?

According to the statistical geniuses over at BuzzSumo, lists with 10 items were the most popular by far. Perhaps that’s because 10 represents a whole and can provide a thorough treatment of a subject– at least ideally.

buzzsumo

Courtesy of OKDork

The next most popular list numbers prove how random life is. People were most likely to share lists with 23, 16, and 24 in the title. What to make of it?

Choose 10 or any number.

As long as you have more than one entry for your list, you can create a list post. And rock at it.

List posts are always a good idea. They’re perfect for just about any topic you can imagine.

2. “Why” Posts

“Why” posts are the next most popular type of content to do. “Why” posts set out to offer an explanation to the reader’s problem. Here’s a few examples:

why-instagram-is-good-for-your-business_51b141efdf845_w1500

Underlying Question: Should my brand have an Instagram account? Jeopardy Style Response: Why Instagram is Good for Your Business

why mobile matters

Underlying Question: Does my site need to appeal to mobile users? Jeopardy Style Response: Why Mobile Matters To Your Email Marketing (Infographic)

why-your-brand-needs-video_524be68a4e77f

Underlying Question: Should I invest in video? Jeopardy Style Response: Why Your Brand Needs Video

As you can see, a “why” post works best when providing an answer to an implied question. It’s not an existential why, it’s a solution-driven why.

These kinds of posts often disarm the problem and provide actionable advice for the reader.

3. Infographics & Video

You know what type of content is always welcomed? Visual. The good thing about visual content is that it plays well with others. Spice up any other type of content on this list with a visual and you’ll instantly increase your audience’s engagement level.

That’s because the brain loves visual content. Studies show that the brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than other types of information. It takes the brain less than 1/10th of a second to understand a visual scene.

brains-crave-infographics

 

Courtesy of Hubspot

Video is also the life of a party. Adding a video to your webpage can lower bounce rates and increase time spent on your site. On average, visitors who watch a video on your site will stay two minutes longer.

video-marketing-infographic

Courtesy of Hubspot

Fortunately, infographics and video are totally doable, even if you’re a complete novice on all fronts.

You can create your own highly shareable infographic from scratch or hire someone to do it.

You can shoot your own professional-looking video with a smartphone or hire someone to do it.

4. “What” Posts

This type of post asks a question and implies that it will provide an answer. “What” posts can be simple introductions, definitions, or strategies to aid the reader.

what is a cms

What is a CMS? Courtesy of the Ultralink

Although a “what” post isn’t the most popular type of content to share, it does play an important role in your content marketing strategy. It can provide a detailed presentation on a specific topic. Your readers will often arrive on your site organically because they’ve searched for this type of post, i.e. “What is…?”

What posts are the bedrock of your blog, and can establish you (and your brand) as an authority on a specific topic.

5. How-to Posts

This type of post is value-driven. It’s instructional and tells you exactly how to do something. A how-to post often introduces the problem and then provides a satisfying way to avoid or fix it.

The how-to post is action-oriented. There’s no place for theory or philosophy in this type of post. Instead, you’ll find lots of verbs and nitty gritty details to help you accomplish your goals.

how to stay disciplined

 

How to Stay Disciplined and Get Stuff Done Courtesy of SarahXO

how to craft

How to Craft Instagram Posts Courtesy of Social Media Examiner

The how-to post will provide an actionable step-by-step solution. If it doesn’t, it’s a list post.

How to Choose Your Content Delivery Type

So, which posts work best in your content marketing strategy? I honestly recommend a mix of all five. Go heavy on lists, but don’t skimp on “what” posts that establish your authority. Be sure to include plenty of visuals to make it easier to digest.

Above all, do what works best for your audience. Every audience is different. Start by trying all five types of content, and then see which one gets the most response from your audience via views, comments, or shares.

Do you have a favorite content type? Share in the comments.

Create a better list post by following these do’s and don’ts. Subscribe to receive this extra resource.