Since Al Gore supposedly invented the Internet, the World Wide Web has proven to be as entrapping as a spider’s web. It has been the gateway to many new and exciting things. Social media, email, picture sharing, and, naturally, ever-hilarious cat videos have all made the world a more connected, much smaller place.

Of course, the Internet hasn’t just changed our abilities to socialize and procrastinate; it has also opened doors on the business end. Marketing has become much simpler (and not to mention cheaper) thanks to the ability to gain access to millions upon millions of people simply by entering something into a computer.

Still, even with content marketing, generating sales and leads isn’t a given. This is because everyone is using the Internet to advertise their services and their products. Thus, with every company composing content, your content has to be better than your competitors. In order to accomplish this, it must be more engaging.

So, how do you do this? How do you produce content that makes your readers laugh, cry, and buy the t-shirt (or at least find intrigue in your products)? Start by keeping the following five things in mind….

It’s Not About You (Even Though You’re Super

Awesome)

One of the biggest mistakes companies commit in regards to content marketing is making it about them, instead of their customers. While the whole point of marketing is to, in fact, market, there is something to be said about subtleness. In other words, thinly plug your company while being obvious about how you are helping the customer.

If you are selling turmeric capsules, for instance, don’t focus on your capsules and how they are better than all other supplements. Rather, produce content that discusses the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric or how a person can successfully decrease their odds of getting cancer. The customer came to your site to have a need met; be sure you fulfill it.

Make Them Laugh, Don’t Make Them Cringe

“Engaging” and “Funny” might not be direct synonyms, but they are kind of like word cousins who see each other at reunions and Christmas parties. Content doesn’t have to be funny to make it engaging, but it certainly can help. The fact is people like to be entertained by what they read and humor is largely viewed as entertaining.

Still, it’s important to remember that humor isn’t always welcomed by readers with open arms – done in poor taste, it can leave them with open mouths. If your content touches on a serious topic, be sure to steer clear of making light. Poking fun at the Kardashians is probably fine, poking fun at Ebola probably isn’t.

Use Video Technology to Your Advantage

Some of the most popular sites on the Internet tap into the visual sense; from YouTube to Instagram, multimedia is kind of like the hot girl the World Wide Web went to prom with. This makes it vital to your content marketing campaign….especially if your target audience is under the age of 40.

Not only is visual content important in your present marketing, but it’s particularly vital to the future. According to Cisco, and reported in The Guardian, video will account for 69 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by the year 2017.

Don’t Live in 1996

Content marketing can sometimes feel like journalism – you have to stay on top of your game lest you get scooped. In a world with story after story going viral, if you don’t produce content on a regular basis, you’ll be left on the outside of technology looking in (with Myspace, Friendster, and laser discs).

So, be sure you keep up with the times by reporting the times – content that talks about universal healthcare is timely, content that talks about Monica Lewinsky’s unfortunate beret has already been put out to pasture.

Don’t Stop Believing…in Yourself

In the age of political correctness, people no longer walk on eggshells – they walk on entire cartons. From a business sense, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – companies shouldn’t be producing inflammatory content under hardly any circumstances. The whole “any press is good press” adage doesn’t necessarily ring true.

But, where political correctness can hurt a business is in the area of self-assuredness. People are so overly concerned with offending someone else that they add in clauses like “in my humble opinion” or “at least I think so.” These clauses hurt content on two fronts. First of all, they are redundant (since you are posting the content, the fact that it is your opinion is already insinuated). Second of all, these clauses make it appear as if you’re doubting yourself. If you’re doubting yourself, you can bet your customers will doubt you as well. Your content is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your knowledge. You are the expert – you have to act like it.