How to refine your content strategy.
One of the most common mistakes made by brands is that they throw themselves into a partciular social channel, and then a few months later, when they are getting frustrated at how hard they're having to work to achieve relatively little, they finally bother to ask the question — what is it that they actually want to communicate?
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that your brand identity, messaging and values are all in place (if not, then you know what to do) and that you’re now ready to get serious with communicating that brand online.
1. Create your content framework and calendar
One of the main reasons why companies waste so much time on content is that they don’t have a clear framework to operate within. The first thing you should do (following a ton of research into both direct competitors and other brands outside your market that are targeting a similar audience) is draw up a set of pillars and content formats so that you understand exactly what you will be talking about. Working without these themes, rules and pillars is monumentally hard work, effectively starting each week in the hope that inspiration strikes; creating something out of fresh air that magically aligns with your brand while engaging your audience is not easy!
Efficiency in content marketing is everything as it frees you up to then do something really special, which takes me to my next point...
2. Establish your big idea
Even with a sophisticated framework, you will still find that unless you’re in a new and uncompetitive market, it will be really difficult to cut through the noise. If your strategy is to simply do everything 10% better than the competition then think again — that isn’t a strategy!
So instead you need to consider how you can do something really special, something that nobody else in your market is doing. At this point it is worth taking a step back and looking at the kind of content your audience engages with away from your market. What information are they interested in and what format do they like to receive it?
Disney would be an extreme example of thinking big - they have developed a huge content website for mums with its own social channels and email, called Babble.com. Okay, the scale might be unrealistic for most brands, but if you were to try to do something similar for your audience, what might that look like?
You are not going to lead your market by thinking small.
3. Utilise influencer strategy
Influencer marketing is red hot right now and for good reason. By engaging with influencers among your target audience you can:
- Reinforce the position of your brand
- Scale up your content production (for free in many cases)
- Extend your reach on social media (their audience is your audience)
- Even use the relationship as a means to attract links from their website (great for SEO!)
In short, an effective influencer strategy can turbocharge everything else you’re working on.
4. Distribution and measurement
Finally, we can begin the channel strategy.
From an efficiency and consistency perspective, it’s essential that the content is used across not just one channel but all (assuming you’re targeting the same audience), albeit with some tweaking, and then, if possible, re-used at appropriate intervals. As mentioned before, efficiency is everything in content marketing.
The real key now is to be sure how you will define success. What is the headline digital KPI for your business (it is probably sales if you’re e-commerce or enquiries if you’re a brochure website) and what are the secondary KPI’s that correspond to each channel? Instagram, for example, is likely to be filling the top of the funnel and should be measured in terms of brand reach and engagement (although it is becoming more sales orientated) while your blog is really there to educate and should be measured in terms of its ability to nurture the relationship.
It may seem like a lot to do, but by following the above sequence you will save an enormous amount of time in the long term whilst giving yourself a genuine shot at achieving something special.