Developing a content strategy that delivers results is not rocket science. However, there is a tiny bit of science involved…if you consider counting a science. But before delving into the depths of how counting can help you develop a smart content strategy, let’s ensure we are speaking the same language.
In recent years, the term content strategy has been used to describe all sorts of content marketing related activities. It has become so convoluted that author and content guru Monica Bussolati has pulled together a list of 10 definitions for the term content strategy.
All those definitions aside, this is how we at Pivot define content strategy, and it is anchored on an old truism from advertising. I’m not sure of the provenance of this, but it used to be said that great advertising was saying the right thing, to the right person, in a way it had never been said before. That’s how we like to look at a content strategy.
Content strategy is the planning, development and ongoing management of content in order to get the right content to the right person at the right time. And to do that, you need to start with a user-centred design approach in understanding your audience.
In developing a content strategy, you need to determine who the right person is. You must put them at the centre of your thinking to understand what content will be relevant to them. After all, the only way content marketing ever works is when the end user finds value in the content for time spent. And you need to find out when the audience wants to receive content. The most profound piece of content in the world will go for nought if it shows up in an inbox buried by a dozen other more pressing emails.
We strongly believe in taking this user-centred design approach in knowing the audience. And we practice what we preach. In fact, we are in the midst of revamping our own content strategy. And that’s why there’s a survey accompanying this blog post. That’s also where the counting comes in. After all, surveys require counting.
You are the user we’d like to put at the centre of our content strategy. As such, we’d like to know better what kind of content you will find valuable. We’d like to understand what kind of formats you prefer and how often you would like to see us publish new content. What you want vis-a-vis the content we develop matters. It counts (pun intended). So please take a few minutes to complete our survey.
Once you know more about your audience, developing the rest of your content strategy becomes a relatively simple matter. In later blog posts, we will examine in more detail each of the following elements of a content strategy. But for now, understanding your audience and what problems you might be able to help them solve and what content gaps you might be able to fill makes it evident what the objective of your content strategy should be.
With the objective set, you can then decide upon the content formats (blog posts, social media posts, infographics, white papers, how to videos, etc.) that make the most sense to achieve that objective.
The channels you publish to are likewise determined largely by the content formats. But as part of the process in developing your content strategy, you will need to make some decisions. Social media for example, which – if any – is preferred by your audience? Is it Linkedin or Facebook or Instagram or Twitter? If video is part of your plan, do you post on your website or create a YouTube or Vimeo channel?
Of course, critical to executing a successful content strategy is getting the cadence right. Knowing how often you publish which format is necessary to optimize engagement. The tricky thing for many organizations with cadence is having the resources (whether internal or outsourced) to deliver the content on schedule as well as monitor content in the public domain. Content always takes more effort to create than most allow for and many organizations fail to assign necessary resources to monitor and respond to audience comments.
In terms of resourcing to execute a content strategy, it is also important to remember that content is a long term game. Unlike an advertising campaign based on bought media, content takes time to develop an audience, it takes time to engender the engagement needed to achieve objectives. And while it can be a very cost effective tactic in not requiring expensive media buys, it is critical to plan resources for the long term. Once committed to publishing content, an organization has to keep going for it to be effective. Executing a content strategy for 3 months and then watch it slowly fade away as the team developing the content gets pulled away to short term higher priority tasks is a pitfall many organizations run into. It can be avoided by being realistic from the get go as to what is necessary to stay the content strategy course. And it all starts with the simple act of counting.