Content is ubiquitous. That is not a good reason to dive in without considering what you are trying to achieve by producing your own. The opposite is true. LinkedIn has 9 billion content impressions a week. There are 656 million tweets a day. On Facebook, users generate 4 million likes every minute. There are over 40,000 Google searches a second. For you to stand out in this noise, your content strategy and execution has to be right.
Here are 10 simple steps to ensure that it is.
- Nail your objectives. Why are you doing this? What change in your business are you looking to see because of implementing a content strategy?
- Set smart goals. Decide how you will measure success. What size should your community be? What engagement levels from your clients equates to trust and stickiness? What role does content play in your lead funnel? When can you start monetising your content?
- Embrace the conversation triangle. You can join an existing conversation, add value to it or own the conversation. Each requires different content and different levels of expertise.
- Match your output to your purpose. If you are looking to build the community, start by joining the conversation that your audience is already having. Like and share content from them. Comment on it. Post relevant news alerts. To create awareness of your own brand and expertise, you will need to add value. This means producing blogs, social media posts, web cards, listicles, POVs and infographics. Establishing real credibility though takes owning the conversation with original data, research, substantive white papers, briefings, surveys, studies and videos.
- Determine how to link your products and services. If you are looking to make direct sales or generate leads for your salesforce to follow, you need to be able to stimulate an emotion such as fear or greed that you can satisfy. Make the connection with what you offer explicit.
- Use content to close the sale. Whether you need to move your prospect through the pipeline, or persuade them to finish checking out, great content can help. Think about how to use testimonials, imagery, usage guides and case studies to get them across the line.
- Define your communities. Content needs to be bespoke to your different audience groups. Who are you hoping to impress and engage? If you are B2B, the CFO who signs off on your purchase is not necessarily going to be interested in the same content as your users but still needs to be reassured that you are experts in your field. Think about potential audiences and building community groups based on core criteria such as sector, job function, seniority, interest area, topics, geography, size of business and their relationship with you.
- Enable user generated content. You know that your clients love and trust you when they are contributing to your content. Think about the promotions, tools and viral nudges you can build to make that happen.
- Agree who does what, when, how. Your best author may not be consistently available. Your biggest expert may not be your most engaging writer. Think carefully about who should produce what, when. Produce a content calendar. Be clear about your brand's tone of voice. Your brand guidelines should include a style guide. Will you use American or British spelling? Will you produce content in local language? Are you comfortable with slang? Agree which content needs to be approved before it is published. Have a crisis response strategy in place BEFORE you post your first piece of content in case of a content or a real world crisis.
- Integrate, amplify, promote, analyse, adjust. The best content in the world is redundant if no one reads it or it clashes with your other sales, marketing and advertising campaigns. Content marketing should never be a silo. Build your social media strategy, including hash tags and paid for promotion around your content. Analyse in real time and adjust accordingly.
Once you have your strategy in place do not forget to look at the technology. There are systems and platforms available, ranging from simple and free social media tools to expensive and bespoke content management systems, that can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your content output. My favourite, unsurprisingly, if you are looking to promote your thought leadership and build your community with ease, is this one.