How to Create Engaging Content: Five steps to help your brand stand out

1. Look outside: Tap into the content that surrounds your niche. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s critical. Most of your special creativity sauce will come from walking your own talk and making content that connects with what your brand stands for. The goal is to get your team into the mindset of a publisher.

2. Go inside: Identify the content that you can own—original content that gives your consumers information they couldn’t have gotten elsewhere. “Success today is almost always predicated on providing something the consumer actually wants and therefore may respond to, interact with, and even advocate for,” says Jonah Bloom, chief strategy offer at Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners.

3. Give it muscle: Make it bigger, richer and brighter through multimedia storytelling elements, taking things “live” or by adjusting the frequency of content for a more powerful punch. Yes, there will always be the scores of OMG political gaffes, animals jumping on trampolines and Ryan Gosling memes. But there’s a trend away from thinly-reported, quick-hit posts toward long-form, magazine-style narratives and rich multimedia experiences (e.g., the Pulitzer-winning New York Times Snowfall feature).

4. Make connections: Enlist the users who are already engaged on your site. Your current customers and fans can be an amazing, rabidly passionate source of fresh, honest content. Warby Parker uses Vine to encourage its customers to test drive their try-at-home glasses, while Lowes has created “Fix in Six,” a series of Vine videos where home improvement hacks use Lowes products. It’s entertaining and compulsively watchable.

5. Get weird: No, really! With the 27 million pieces of content that are shared daily, you’re competing not just with other likeminded brands but with publishers, blogs and everyone who creates content. You might think that the strange and offbeat idea has the potential to be brand-damaging, or at the very least off-brand (e.g. Samsung and “The Lonely Broccoli Mammoth”), but that’s just what makes it cool and captivating, and helps you stand out as more than just another publisher.