What’s Your Content Cadence?

content cadence

By Brooke Ballard, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I’m going to be 100% honest here. I’m excited as hell.

When Mark asked me to be a contributor to the {grow} blog, I excitedly ran around my house yelling (true story, ask my dog).

But as my first due date loomed, I started to turn from over-the-moon thrilled to biting-my-nails nervous.

Mark has a reputation of publishing only the BEST and most ORIGINAL content — it’s one of the biggest reasons, in my opinion, he has such clout (and Klout) in the social sphere.

So as I sharpened my storytelling skills, I started to think about the importance of cadence in writing.

What’s Content Cadence?

Cadence sets the backdrop for your story; it helps the reader better visualize the sequence of events you’re laying out.

It also helps with things like:

  • Flow: Each paragraph should build on the last and set up the next
  • Tone & Voice: Good content cadence helps the reader connect with WHO you are; it humanizes a brand, company, or business
  • Edutainment:Which is to say it checks the boxes for both education and entertainment
  • Context: HubSpot best defines this as, “delivering the right content, to the right audience, at the right time.”
  • Storytelling: Connecting this piece of content, and others, with your customers

I think these elements are extremely important to consider in content marketing because they put the consumer in the driver’s seat.

Too often we write what we want to write, or what we think our customers want to hear about, without actually thinking about the cadence of our content and how if done correctly it will draw readers in — and keep them coming back.

Content Cadence Questions

When I wrote my first post for {grow}, I’m not embarrassed to say that Mark sent it back twice for editing and rewrites. It was a good post. He helped me make it a great post.

I know he was guiding me based on what his audience expects.

What does your audience expect?

Ask yourself questions like:

  1. Who is the person I am picturing in my head as I write this?
  2. What message does my audience prefer? How can I help them?
  3. How does my audience want to consume my messaging?
  4. What topics resonate with my readers (measured by deeper engagements)?
  5. How can I analyze these components to find my best content cadence?

It’s critical you not confuse content cadence with frequency.

Frequency is more about productivity and cadence is more about your communication style.

Which brings up a few more questions about cadence you might want to address:

  • [Frequency] How many posts and/or updates can your audiences handle per day/month? Remember that each platform or channel has its own limits.
  • [Timing] When is your audience online? What are the best days and times to post? Does seasonality come into play, or are you global and unable to talk in seasons? What about trending topics?
  • [Length] How does your audience consume content? In short bursts? In long, data-driven case studies?
  • [Personality] Can you let your freak flag fly? Or do you need to stick to the facts, data, and corporate-friendly tone?

Good Content Cadence Cultivates Conversation

Look back at every piece of content you’ve produced.

Which pieces not only enticed a user to open or click, but spurred deeper engagements?

It’s no secret that our mantra at my startup is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” — and it’s why content cadence is something that will have much of my focus in 2015.

Let’s use this post as an example of my point:

  1. Who is the person I am picturing in my head as I write this?
    • Mark’s audience is vast, supporting many levels of marketing expertise (but my guess is basic, 101 stuff won’t do)
    • So I am thinking of somebody who wants to take things to the next level.
  2. What message does my audience prefer? How can I help them?
    • The {grow} audience seems to like humor, education, transparency (I tried to meet those)
    • As I write more for {grow}, I’ll be able to hone my messaging
    • Since I am an avid fan of {grow} I think if I address some of the issues I am facing it will help others in the audience, too.
  3. How does my audience want to consume my messaging?
    • For this particular question, I’m going to assume through the blog
  4. What topics resonate with my readers (measured by deeper engagements)? 
    • While shares are nice, I’ll be looking at comments, conversations, and other connections resulting from this article — this will guide me in creating future articles
  5. How can I analyze these components to find my best content cadence?
    • I’m looking for triggers: What sparks debate? Conversation? Collaboration? Community building and connection?
    • As my post analytics start to paint a picture, I’ll better understand what type of content to produce, as well as the cadence the {grow} community expects

Different channels have different cadence needs, so experimentation and testing will ultimately be my guide here at {grow}.

So, be honest.

How’d I do with my cadence and storytelling? Conversations welcome. 🙂 

See you in the social sphere!

Brooke Ballard for {grow}Brooke Ballard is an in-the-trenches digital marketer & owner at B Squared Media, blossoming blogger, and co-host of @ReadySetPodcast. Her mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on Twitter.

 

 

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  • RandyBowden

    Well done Brooke and I always fly my freak flag, some don’t relate!
    Congrats!

  • Brooke Ballard

    As do I. Embrace the weird. 🙂 Thank you so much, dear Randy! Cool to “see” you here.

  • RandyBowden

    a valued community I frequent often! and glad to read your teachings here.

  • Brooke Ballard

    Me too! 😉

  • Bravo, Brooke! You’ve done a fabulous job! I look forward to reading more of your cadence rich pieces here.

  • Greg Digneo

    Awesome Brooke! Very nice cadence. 🙂

  • Brooke Ballard

    Thank you, Robin! 🙂 I certainly hope to deliver more on content and other marketing ideas. Let me know if you have any feedback!

  • Brooke Ballard

    Thank you, Greg! Appreciate it. 🙂

  • Awesome, Brooke! I felt the same way about my first Grow post. Honored and terrified! That lead me to write a very long, rambling post. Mark called me on it. Now I always think, am I taking too long to get to the point? Thanks for sharing your process here. Super valuable for all of us trying to improve our writing.

  • Brooke Ballard

    Thank you, Alisa! Thrilling and scary — kinda like a roller coaster (I LURVE me some roller coasters!). I think it makes sense to think about your audience ALL the time, as they change, as they {grow}, or when they are different (like they are for me over here on Mark’s blog). One size fits all can’t be the standard. Not here. Not anywhere!

  • Hey Brooke, I was the same way when I was invited to write. And my first ideas came back with this note from Mark: “meh”. LOL Great job and a very interesting topic which I’m going to revisit I’m sure again and again.

  • Brooke Ballard

    Hi, Betsy! Nice to e-meet you here. LOL … thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad you like the topic! Let me know how/where I can expand with future writings.

  • Quay Hayden

    Great stuff Brooke! I find myself skipping to the end to if the cadence doesn’t flow and entice me to read on.

  • Brooke Ballard

    Thank you for sharing that here, Quay! I think that’s a HUGE point for writers to hear (read) … not only does value and relevance matter to keeping readers engaged, so does cadence. GREAT insight. Thank you!

  • I will. where do I subscribe to your blog by email?

  • Brooke Ballard

    Here on {grow} there’s an RSS feed at the very bottom. For me personally you can click on the CTA at the bottom of every blog post (here’s the latest one: http://www.b2onlinemedia.com/blog/my-marketing-secret-sauce/)

  • Brooke Ballard

    There’s an RSS here on {grow} (scroll down to the bottom!)

  • Awesome post Brooke! SO excited for you!! You will really take your writing to another level writing for Mark. I know just doing a guest post for him did that for me – and it was only one!

    You bring up a great point most writers don’t think about. Most are concerned with the content and the stats and words, but not how it flows. I’ve gotten lost in articles because it didn’t flow and each paragraph didn’t compound on the other.

  • Great post Brooke! Why I love Mark´s posts is exactly for that: cadence. The words just flow through the page.
    You did great with cadence and storytelling! I wrote down a few ideas for improving my writing, so thank you. I look forward to read more of you.

  • MaureenMonte

    I’m always late to the party, so forgive me. First of all, kudos for a remarkable post. The fact that it is your first is irrelevant other than it shows that you’ve done your homework, know your stuff, and taken the opportunity very seriously. Funny what a difference that makes! Second, really love the idea of conversation vs campaign. Going to share with my VP because we have conversations that are almost exclusively INTERNAL and campaigns that are EXTERNAL. Time to open the kimono! Let’s have one conversation (with some exceptions as appropriate, of course) and we all participate – employees + customers. Love the idea, thank you. Look forward to other great posts and info from you, Brooke.

  • Josh St. Aubin

    Great post as always Brooke, and some very excellent points! Cadence is what marks good vs. great and keeps readers coming back for more. You can be a good writer that has a consistent audience regardless of your style, but there are those certain writers that we know that just “get it” and leave you wanting so much more.

  • Brooke Ballard

    Thank you so much, Mandy! I’m really excited about writing for Mark, and know he will help my writing {grow} (pun intended). 😉

    Flow is important, but also something we tend to forget about. Just like it’s hard to follow someone who jumps around in the conversation, it’s hard to follow a writer who does the same.

    Thanks again for your support!

  • Brooke Ballard

    I’m so glad to hear that, Corina, thank you! Mark is a master of cadence. We can all learn from his writings.

  • Brooke Ballard

    WOW. Your comment totally added a spark to my morning, Maureen. Thank you! I’ll admit to doing my homework and reading other {grow} posts! 😉 I want to be myself but also “fit in” with what’s expected.

    Love that you love our tagline, AND love your point on internal vs. external. I think we’re totally on the same page (that doesn’t happen too often). Thanks for stopping by and leaving me feeling like a superstar.

  • Brooke Ballard

    Agreed, Josh (and hiiiiii!). With other things that Mark has pointed out about content (namely content shock) every writer out there should be trying to get from good to great, or great to superb.

    Thanks for weighing in!

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  • Very good tips related to content strategies. Few years ago, I personally wrote similar article and I see many similarities.

  • Brooke Ballard

    Thank you, Kaloyan! Would love to see what you wrote … feel free to shot me a link.

  • Anders Orsander

    This is spot on Brooke. Content cadence is IMHO what gives content personality, makes it stand out, originality. It’s great to read such a quality post on this topic as this one.

  • Brooke Ballard

    Thanks for the kind words, Anders! I agree with each of your points and think we can all do a little more to try and stand out.

  • The Cub

    Brooke – awesome! You’ve nailed the topic very succinctly and get behind the reason people stick to certain blogs and what you can do about creating a personality for your blog. I think content cadence couples nicely with the user-experience design to help improve blog engagement.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Brooke Ballard

    Thank you so much for the compliment! 🙂

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