For many folks, content strategy is viewed as witchcraft when it relates to online marketing. Mainly because the term “content strategy” can’t be defined in a simple statement. There are many moving components to what we define as a content strategy and how to create an effective one.
This is how Wikipedia defines content strategy:
Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content—written or in other media. The term is particularly common in web development since the late 1990s.
6 Vital Components To Content Strategy and How to Create Them
In this article, I’d like to pull the curtain back on this black hole of the internet marketing world and outline six vital components of what a content strategy is made up of. Once you understand the anatomy, you can then create a more meaningful content strategy to attract customers, build trust, and ultimately drive more conversions.
The first step to having a content strategy is to profile your ideal customer/audience. Who are they and what are their behaviors? The more specific and narrow you can get with multiple personas, the better you can tailor your content for them. The ultimate goal is to create a user experience that connects your content to the intended audience in a relatable way.
A few questions you can ask yourself:
- Where do they spend their time on social media?
- What types of groups do they belong to? (FB, TW, LI etc.)
- Why do they care?
- What motivates them?
- What other brands do they have affinity towards?
- Are they mobile or desktop users?
Next, identify the purpose of the content. Is it designed to create awareness, drive traffic, increase sales, encourage email opt-ins or just showcase some of your brand’s personality? Lot’s of companies create content but don’t have an overarching strategy.
To have an effective content strategy you need to begin with the end in mind. We’ve discovered that there are many ways to approach a strategy that could lead us to the same goal, and envisioning that goal beforehand helps to select the right strategy for your business.
If you’re having any difficulty coming up with purposeful content we suggest starting by following F.O.R.D. (family, occupation, recreation, and dreams). This formula isn’t applicable to everyone but should give you a starting point.
Content can be created in many forms and innovative companies continue to come up with new mediums of content creation regularly. Is your customer/audience a busy person? Perhaps a podcast is an appropriate medium of content for them. They can listen to it in the car or during their morning workout.
Always refer back to your audience profiles when deciding what medium of content you should create. Sometimes you may find that you need to provide a mixture of mediums to complete your entire content strategy.
“The general mediums of content are written, audio and video, but there are dozens of variations under each of those categories”
One new medium that is pretty exciting is Facebook’s live stream feature. It’s real-time content creation that forces creators to be more authentic. Also, because it’s LIVE the view engagement is through the roof. We predict more brands will follow this trend of content creation in 2017.
Again, start by referring back to your audience profiles before deciding what channels you should distribute your content to. Some distribution channels play very well together and your strategy could be to leverage multiple channels to achieve your content strategy goals.
For example: Google and YouTube are two separate distribution channels that play very well together (mainly because Google now owns YouTube). Your videos can rank very high organically if positioned properly, and so can your blog posts if you follow some SEO practices.
No matter your strategy, pinpoint all the distribution channels you need to leverage to complete your content strategy.
In addition to identifying the best channels to release your content on, the distribution stage is also where you create a content schedule for distribution. The schedule is key! Most social media users subconsciously expect some form of consistency. Make a content strategy calendar that you or your marketing department can commit to. You will find yourself getting better at creating a content strategy schedule with every new campaign you launch.
Engagement is critical when trying to retain your audience and build trust. Some of the biggest brands in the world have a dedicated department whose sole purpose is to engage with people who have asked questions, liked, or retweeted anything from their content strategy. If someone is engaging with your content it is vital to respond and engage back. Sometimes this can be as simple as a “like” or a “mention”. In other instances, you can reward your audience for engagement.
“The goal here is to keep your content strategy dynamic not static”
Don’t feel obligated to engage in everything that happens online because you don’t want to come off as desperate. But, your engagement strategy should be valuable and not just a thumbs up. Provide value in your engagement and you will notice an increase in conversions.
Listening to your audience and what people are saying about your content is what’s going to bring your content strategy around full circle. In our agency we call this “Feedback Looping” and it’s simple.
Once you’ve gone through this process a few times with your content, you will notice more engagement across all of your distribution channels. Your content will perform better and have crystal clear purpose.
This step in the content strategy process is frequently overlooked. Remember, you aren’t creating content for yourself, you’re creating content for your audience. So get feedback, pivot, and repeat. This will ensure your content stays fresh while being unique in comparison to your competition.
Once you’ve been able to identify the above 6 vital components you now have an effective content strategy. Posting random content once a day isn’t a strategy, it’s noise. If there is one thing I can leave you with that will allow you to maximize your content strategy it’s this: Knowing your audience is by far the most important aspect to creating a meaningful content strategy that actually converts.