If you’re running a business in 2020, you need a content strategy. You might be asking what is a content strategy? A content strategy is a way in which you plan, develop and finally manage all the content of your business. That’s written content from blogs, whitepapers, e-books and even multimedia content like videos or your social media posts. Whether you’re a small business that manages all your marketing in-house, or if you’re a bigger business working with marketing agencies, you need to develop a content strategy. It helps to make sure everything you put out into the world is aligned with the goals and values of your business. A content strategy is a blueprint for how you plan to develop your brand and connect with your customers.
How often do you start a marketing conversation with the questions who, what, when, where, why and how?
- What content are we making?
- Where are we putting it and when?
- Why are we making this content?
- Who are we making it for?
- And finally, how are we going to execute it?
If you have to ask these questions at the outset every time, you need to have a content strategy.
Why you need a content strategy
We’ve spoiled the first part of the answer already. A content strategy gives you a foundation from which to build all your content. Not only that it ensures synergy across your different content streams and makes sure your business’s brand is clear to your customers. A well-developed strategy means that your content will be of a higher quality. This is important because everything is about quality today. High-quality content breaks through the noise, is eye-catching for customers, gets them invested in your brand and builds trust. Your social media content is especially important. Think of your social media pages as your front yard. If the yard looks safe and inviting with some nicely maintained hedges with the promise of a great time for guests (customers) at your house (business) the more likely, they’ll visit. But if the lawn is unmown and you’ve got weeds everywhere, you’re not going to make an excellent first impression, and first impressions count. Customers will think quality content = quality products. Unless you can prove them wrong with a strong reputation, then you need to tidy your virtual front yard.
The second part of the answer is that having a content strategy helps you achieve your goals. You can’t measure success if you don’t have anything to measure yourself against. By setting up a strategy with clear goals in mind for cost, amount of content to be published each month, engagement etc., you’ll have a straightforward way to measure your successes and losses.
How to start planning your content strategy
To get started, you want first to knock off the ‘why’ of it all. Set your mission statement, your purpose early and you’ll have that locked in for all content across the board, no confusion amongst different team members on the company’s goal, and you can easily share it with agencies, so they know who you are as a business.
You’ll want to include who your target audience is, the leading platforms you’ll be using and how your products or service benefit your customers.
Next, you’ll want to establish SMART goals. Those are goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
An example of a smart goal could be to get 200 new likes on your business’s Facebook page within a month. It’s specific, the goal is measurable (if you only get 100 likes you’re 50% of the way,). It’s achievable with planning, and it’s relevant to your overall goals to grow your business and its time-bound. Goals without an end-date in mind could be pipe dreams.
Working out what and where to post
Once you’ve set yourself up with a purpose for your strategy, it’s time to consider your audience and where they exist online. You can read our post on which social media platforms you should be using here.
We’ll get to tools in a moment but if you’re just starting out and don’t have any data on your customers one thing you can do which isn’t so bad (once you match it with some data) is assume. What mean here is to make educated guesses or assumptions about your customers to build customer personas or avatars. By creating these personas, you can attempt better to understand your customers, their wants and needs. We have to be careful about making assumptions. It’s always good to back them up by doing market research, researching your competitors’ users by checking out their followers or even surveying your customers.
If, for example, you’re selling skincare products and your vegan-friendly products are selling the most, it’s safe to assume that a large segment of your customers are vegan. Many vegans are socially conscious individuals so you would then consider that as part of your strategy – it might inform the way you source your other products; your future offers and even any partnerships with other brands that you might have. Once you’ve made some assumptions, you can do further research and build up your avatars with data from social media analytics.
Once you know who your audience is you’re just about ready to go, you’ll need to make sure you set yourself up to post at the most appropriate times for maximum engagement and decide on how often to post.
Tools you need in your kit
There are far too many tools to list here, but we’ll name a few quickly.
Canva – Canva is a graphics design tool with both free and premium plans that let you create graphics suitable for all your social media needs. It’s easy to use and has thousands of templates available. If you’re just getting started, there’s no need to hire a graphic designer or buy an expensive tool like Photoshop.
Grammarly – This free grammar editor is a powerful little tool to make sure your copy is good to go, it’s great for checking over simple sentences or social media posts and longer pieces as well. It primarily helps fix spelling and syntax errors, which means it won’t replace your friendly neighbourhood copywriter (winking face).
BuzzSumo – A really powerful tool that offers all kinds of analytics from finding your audience, tracking trends, or even content discovery (to help you work out what you should be posting about). You can try it out for 30-days to see how to use it, as it isn’t’ free.
Later.com – It’s really time-consuming to move between different apps to set up your posts. A tool like Later.com lets you schedule your posts from the desktop. It’s currently compatible with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and when you sign up with a free account, you get 30 free posts for each account. It’s a convenient way to post.
Linktr.ee – Instagram doesn’t let you include links in your posts, but luckily some clever people thought of a way around that. A Linktree enables you to host several links on a single page, saving you from having to continually edit your website url in your bio. You can simply update the Linktree instead, and have it set to always link to a few of the key areas of your website such as your store or about page.
Essentially, some combination of grammar checker, graphic design, scheduling and analytics tools are the best way to get started. What’s important is that you just start.
What’s that saying? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If you don’t have a content strategy, you’re not setting yourself up for success. Without a fair understanding of your audience, the content that performs well with them and the tools you need to make the most of your content, you might not get very far.
If you’d like to book some time with the OneStopWriter team to discuss your content strategy, book here.
Over to you
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