Before we start with a content marketing strategy, do a quick gut check … is your messaging strategy set. You know who you are talking to – check. You know the core values and personality of your brand – check. You are well versed with your brand’s style guide – check. Ok, you are ready for your content marketing strategy.
The content marketing strategy really consists of two elements – 1) the topics and stories you are going to cover, and 2) the places the content will be distributed. Once those elements are in place, produce a detailed content plan and identify potential brand category influencers.
As discussed in “Content 103: Leveraging Your Brand Position to Produce Compelling Content,” content topics should be the intersection of what the brand stands for and what the audience values. You can investigate the topics that resonate with your audience.
So where should your content be published? First and foremost, your content should be published in a repository on your website – a blog. You want to drive traffic to your home court so that interested individuals have a chance to absorb more of your brand. But at the same time you do not want to force people to have to go to your site to get the information that is important to them. Think of ways you can proliferate that content.
Understand the social channels where your audience goes. Post references to your content there. Determine the media sources that cover the topics you defined.
Now comes the part that so many find difficult to do – planning a content calendar. But actually, this is not a burden at all if you have already defined topics and distribution points. I like to encourage building a high-level entire year’s plan because that allows a budget and plan to be set for not only article production, but photos and videos as well. You want to have topics well planned, but also have agility to cover unplanned content driven by current events and/or changes in the marketplace.
Once you have your content themes determined, decide on the cadence for each topic. How many articles will you produce, photos will be taken, and videos to be made each week? When you are considering content cadence, remember visuals work best. Think about your audience’s attention span. You can likely keep them interested with a number of photos, video and article per week. Think about which theme topics lend themselves best to articles, pictures and/or videos. Consider ways to generate UGC (user generated content) for some of your content.
I like to take the information I described and create two spreadsheets to determine a brand content calendar. The first spreadsheet lists each theme, the cadence for production, and channels where the content will be seen, as shown in the diagram below.
Use all channels that are appropriate for each content piece. Notice that in some cases, the actual content will not be posted on a channel, but rather the social channel is used to reference the content piece and provide a reference link. This is often done with blog articles and referencing them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Once you have built out the Theme/Cadence/Channel Content Chart, add spreadsheet tabs for each channel determined to use. On each channel tab, build a one-year calendar. Next, go back to the Theme/Cadence/Channel Content Chart and copy a theme, look at the cadence specified, and paste that theme on the social channel chart per the cadence specified. Do this for all themes and all social channels as shown below.
There is one additional element of a content strategy. That is determining who you should pitch your content to in order to win earned media. You cannot really plan when you win earned media. It is very much at the hands of the media source that covers your topic and brand. But you should continually deepen relationships with key influencers to gain their support.
You build relationships with other influential media sources and people by taking time to understand their needs and what the value is that they look to deliver to their audience. Identify where and how you can help them. Then determine which content you have produced that is applicable to their needs and audience.
Now you have a strategy and a plan for your content marketing. You should be ready to crank out content that is compelling to your audience. In future articles we will address content market measurement and what it means to produce data driven content.
Make it Happen!