North Coast Media's Killer Content Formula

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"'If you build it, they will come' is bad advice. You want to identify your audience first, then go where they are." Bethany Chambers, director of audience engagement for North Coast Media, may have made some baseball fans shudder in the corn fields of Iowa with that quote, but hopefully publishing fans will pay close attention.

Chambers' field of dreams—as a publisher, at least—lies in following "the formula for what works in your market." Speaking to a BIMS audience earlier this month at a session titled Crafting Killer Content That Gets Shared, she asked, "What are the top articles on your site? How-to headlines work really well for our business. She urged doing "the whimsical and unexpected," showing an example of an interview that their pest control magazine did with a bald-faced hornet, garnering strong engagement.

"That's a series we started where we do pretend interviews with pests... and share the kinds of fun facts," Chambers said. "The how-tos, fun facts, people and creativity are still the main things that work for us."

Chambers presented these comments during a Connectiv committee meeting last week. See the full talk here in addition to an update on Google Chrome. She recommended knowing your platforms well and identifying the type of content that works best on each and when. (See her social media guide below.)

"People still make great headlines...," she said. "If you put a person's name in a headline or a tweet, you're going to get a lot of shares and impressions on it because people want to read about others in the industry. For the content creation side, that can really be as simple as following the news of people who are in the industry.

"We saw that in the golf course industry. We had roughly 2,000 people on our file of 17,000 or so readers who moved positions in the last year. So we had a lot to keep up with on Twitter and Facebook. But again everyone wants to know where other people go in the industry."

Chambers also unveiled her 5 Common Content Killers:

  1. Trying to go viral – you don't want to spend all your time trying to chase the beast, that is the viral post, instead of trying to meet your markets.
  2. Thinking you are normal. You are not normal. The things that you think will work based on your use cases of media are not likely to work with your audiences.
  3. Having an inconsistent voice. This can often lead to typos or long text because you're not quite sure how to best put your content together in a way that works. You want your voice to speak to your audience.
  4. Failing to plan. This is the most common. We're all so busy that we actually spend twice as much time doing something.
  5. Going it alone. One-third of your strategy for social media sharing should be sharing other people's content. There are a lot of other content creators out there.

A North Coast Media Social Media Tip Sheet


  • Post 1-2 times per day.
  • Best times: weekdays 6-8 am and 2-5 pm.
  • A picture is worth 1000 words.
  • Pose a question or action.
  • Keep a steady voice.


  • Post about once a day
  • Best times: 7-8:30 a.m. and 5-6 pm
  • Stick to business.
  • Get personal.
  • Give insight.
  • Create a gathering place.


  • Post 5-7 times a day.
  • Best times: weekends 1-3 pm.
  • For every 4 original tweets, aggregate or retweet once.
  • Use HootSuite to schedule tweets.
  • Tease your eNewsletters and promotional materials.


  • Post 1-3 times per week.
  • Best times: Monday, Friday, Saturday at 11 am.
  • Limit posts to 500 words or less.
  • Relax, share your opinion, be informal.
And link back to your website whenever possible!

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…