Over the last couple weeks on the FocusCopy blog, we’ve talked a lot about this one fact… There is an obscene amount of information and competition out there fighting for your prospective customer’s attention. It’s tough. We get it. We see it.
So how do you make your content stand out and become the authority for that topic? The strategy all comes down to content splintering.
What is Content Splintering?
So what is content splintering?
Often when we talk about blogging, the intended author says something along the lines of “there is too much to unpack in just 1000 words” or “there’s no way I can write all about this topic in one blog.”
The answer is similar to that given for the question,
“How do you eat an elephant?”
One bite at a time.
It’s too large to eat in one mouthful!
Cue content splintering.
This is when you take a big topic and splinter it into smaller, bite-sized topics that you can actually tackle. It also helps you get super specific on your post and create solutions that your readers can implement.
For example, you own a coworking space where you lease offices to companies. Coworking space is a really big topic to cover… So break it down into the following:
- Benefits of coworking
- When to move into coworking
- Warning signs to look out for when signing for an office
- Difference between coworking and office space
Then take those big topics and either write in a series (i.e. 5 benefits for non-profits, 5 benefits for SMB, etc.) OR splinter it even more (i.e. moving from a remote work environment to coworking, moving from an office to coworking space, etc.).
Hopefully, you get the picture. If not, comment on this blog, and we’ll answer you right here.
How Does Content Splintering Maximize Content ROI?
Content splintering maximizes content ROI because…
- It’s simply taking a bigger piece of content, slicing it up into smaller chunks, refreshing it, then republishing it. When companies create a cornerstone post (i.e. a massive piece of content that everything else derives from), it becomes so easy to take any topic discussed and blow that up into a standalone piece.
- You are also stretching the amount of times you can discuss any given topic. There’s so many angles that you could take to produce a brand new piece of content – making your time go that much further.
One company that I worked with was in the financial consulting space. One of the topics we wanted to write about was accounts receivable. Whoa! That’s a mighty big topic. 2/10 net 30, collections, reconciling, etc. Obviously, you can’t cover everything about accounts receivable in one blog or even in one book (unless it’s going to be 1000 pages long). But did you see what I did a sentence ago?
Yep, that’s right. I splintered a massive topic into small topics. I would even argue that those topics were too big for a blog or piece of content, so I continued to break it down even further to – you guessed it – bite-sized pieces.
More variations or angles on a given topic allows your company to grasp a larger share of the market.
Content Splintering Methodologies
One of the books in our current stack is Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. We love it because it talks about getting more done in less time AND how to use your brain to its full potential. Hello creativity! In this book Pang claims that “new ideas are created in a two-step process: first, the brain generates lots of ideas, and second, it evaluates them” (page 44). So how does your brain, creativity, and rest relate to content splintering methodologies?
Glad you asked! All the methodologies that we mention follow this 2-prong approach. Brain dumping first then sorting through the chaos later. This is by far the most effective way to find the best content for your readers. They need what you have to say. You need to get access that creative zone to answer their request
Splintering Methodology #1: Mind Maps
I’ll start with this content splintering methodology first because it is my FAVORITE! You see I wasn’t the best student… I studied all the time and worked into all hours of the night; however, when it came to take the test, I wouldn’t be successful.
My co-founder, Stuart Broderick, introduced me to mind mapping (invented by the late Professor Tony Buzan in the 1960’s) when nothing else was working. Whether you are a visual person or an analytical person, this simply works.
Start by putting your big topic in the middle of a blank page. It can be anything – vague, specific, etc. Whatever. Just write it down.
Hint: This works for more than just content splintering. If fact, we used a mind map when founding this company, FocusCopy, to gain clarity on what we wanted to accomplish. Oh, there I go again. Clarity, Focus, Execution – our company mantra.
Then write down topics that are related. Again, it doesn’t need to be super specific, but it needs to be big enough to “splinter”.
For example, if my topic is content marketing… I’ll write publishing, types of content, scheduling, splintering, etc. Those are all related to content marketing. You may offer executive coaching, so some of your branches may be: how to reach your audience, what makes your audience tick, who is your audience, what times you should send topics… The key is to just start writing subtopics.
After you have those big topics, start breaking apart those topics. This is where the real magic happens. Do not worry about if it’s a good idea or a bad idea. Just write it down! You can make that decision later. This is your brain dump!
Once you’ve finished mind mapping, it’s time to filter it and create valuable content around those splinters. I promise you there is enough content for each of those subtopics.
Now, on to the next content splintering methodology!
Splintering Methodology #2: Excel Spreadsheets OR Word Documents
Beyond mind maps, we love lists and organizing lists. We’re weird, but those frameworks (like our CFE Framework) help us maintain quality, pump out high-quality content/copy quicker, and please our clients. So it’s a no-brainer than our second content splintering methodology uses excel spreadsheets or word documents.
First, write a list of topics in one column. Keep writing until you cannot write anymore.
Then start writing specific segments of that big topic. For example, writing a landing page has multiple angles… Unique selling position, writing a hook, creating a golden thread, and design. Write it down.
Finally, you need to identify what you’re actually going to talk about in that piece of content. So write those subtopics!
Now here is where this methodology may be better than #1…
You can schedule out the blogs or pieces of content. In the same spreadsheet, literally put dates in. This will help you to create series (i.e. a month of landing page copy) or create variety.
On the other hand, sometimes working with technology can mean more work than good. It’ll slow down your creative thought process.
Improving Your Content ROI
The key to improving your content ROI is to make it super specific and highly valuable. If you are writing about a big topic (i.e. water consumption), you aren’t going to be able to reveal secrets, how-tos, or specifics in a blog post. But if you write about a splinter of that big topic (i.e. how increased water consumption helps your gut), then you are more likely to see a return on that piece.
Remember, specificity is key to improving your content’s ROI.