buffer

In the world of content marketing, there are few startups out there that have it more figured out than Buffer. With an average of 1900 shares per post, they have to be doing something right.

For Buffer, though, content marketing is more than a mere marketing tactic – it’s a channel for growth. In fact, it’s their primary channel for growth.

In the early days of Buffer, co-founder Leo Widrich was known for conducting an aggressive guest blogging campaign as a way to stimulate early growth. It worked, and now Buffer has a dedicated team of two carrying the torch forward.

We caught up with Content Crafter Kevan Lee to see if we could learn more about the secrets to Buffer’s success.

1. Tell us about yourself. Why did you start doing content marketing?

I have the privilege of creating content for Buffer. My daily duties include writing helpful blog posts about social media and productivity, sending emails to our awesome customers, and sharing updates on the Buffer social media accounts.

I’ve been writing in one form or another ever since I can remember. My journey took me to journalism school, traditional marketing, and then content marketing. I’ve been blogging, sharing, and creating online for the past eight years.

2. How big is your content marketing team?

We’re fortunate at Buffer to have a team of 26 who can all write amazing stories and create awesome content. Our content marketing team of two – me and Courtney, our head of content marketing – love being able to lean on others for help as we fill our calendars with content and stories. On a day-to-day basis, the two of us take the majority of the content tasks, with helpful advice from Leo, our co-founder and the original voice on the blog.

3. What has been the most noticeable effect for Buffer from content marketing?

Early on, we gained all of our new customers from content marketing. I believe it was right near 100 percent of new users who arrived via the content marketing tactics that Leo employed–guest blogging being one of the main routes.

4. What is the biggest challenge you have when it comes to your team’s workflow, communication, and content creation?

Our challenge is one I love having—there are so many different things we want to do and just not enough time to do them all! As as a team of two, we’ve chosen to focus on the aspects that have the biggest impact on our goals. As the team grows, we’d love to explore some additional avenues for content.

5. Do you set specific goals as far as to what your content marketing would look like, and what kind of measurable results you’d get?

We’ve tried to identify the biggest opportunities for growth in our metrics, e.g. low traffic and high conversion where we can see great growth by bumping up the traffic side.

Specifically, we’ve put a lot of emphasis on email marketing. Since making this a goal, we’ve seen great growth in this regard, doubling our signups month-over-month this summer.

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6. What were you hoping would happen once you began content marketing?

When I began content marketing, I was simply hoping to have an outlet to write, to help others, and to share online. I think all of those wishes have been fulfilled, and more.

I think the element that took the longest to happen was feeling that I was helping others, simply because it takes a bit of an audience to get to that point. From day one at Buffer, I was so encouraged by the response and the feeling of helpfulness that comes with the Buffer blog.

7. What changes have you noticed in content marketing over the past year or so?

We’ve noticed a big push toward visual content.

On the Buffer blog, we’ve tried to stay ahead of the curve in this regard by creating an original image for every post we publish. It’s interesting to note that as we’re seeking stories to share via Buffer’s content suggestions, the ones with image stand out well above those without. Visual content is so much easier to share.

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8.What changes and trends do you think will occur in content marketing in the upcoming year?

I expect marketers will continue to find new avenues to deliver their content.

Visuals have been a huge step forward. Maybe the next will be SlideShare or micro-videos or snippets. Or maybe it will swing the other way where the longform, in-depth posts will be the ones that get the most attention. It seems that as content permeates the web that consumers are interested in separating the signal from the noise. That’s one area where I’m particularly interested to push forward.

9. What are the most common mistakes you see people making when it comes to content marketing?

It might sound cliche, but I think that one of the most important reminders for content creators is to be helpful. And this extends to the motivation behind a piece of content: Is it designed or written to help others or is it designed and written to bring in traffic or make a sale?

You can tell the type of content that is based on the latter. Interestingly enough, content that is helpful will end up meeting the other goals, too.

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10. What three things would you tell someone who was thinking about using content marketing for their brand or website?

  1. Do it. Without a doubt, you should be doing content marketing for your brand and website. The return on investment can be huge.
  2. Make content marketing fit your time and resources. Content marketing does not mean blogging once per day. You can set your own schedule that works for you.
  3. Share your stuff lots. Be willing to be self-promotional on social media. As reach declines, you have a chance to reshare your posts and likely reach folks who never saw it in the first place. Keep sharing your own stuff.
You can follow Kevan Lee on Twitter or on Google+.