Content. The very word can send shutters up the spine of even the most experienced marketer. There is content for Search Engine Optimization, content for marketing, content for social media, content for shareholders and the list goes on. It is different by platform. It encompasses websites, blogs, comments, images, videos, whitepapers articles, press releases and educational materials. Creating, writing and managing content can be overwhelming and divert resources that some companies cannot afford to dilute. Often, individuals within organizations are assigned this responsibility without the time, skills, support or clear vision of expectations to carry it out with excellence or consistency.
That being said, there are many organizations who are winning at content – we are speaking to those of you who aren’t … and don’t know where to start or how to maintain a content strategy. The following tips are relatively simple, but they will not work without commitment, intention and accountability.
Once you decide to turn on your content strategy, you need to commit to maintain it. Once you have committed, then be intentional by writing out your plan. And finally, determine how you will hold your organization accountable – updates at staff meeting, quarterly reporting, touchbase discussions, etc. – establish this upfront and allocate time accordingly.
- Don’t launch everything at once. Do determine the one or two things that you can commit to doing regularly. Depending on your business, Facebook is a great place to start. It is user friendly; posts can (and should) include a blend of professional and personal; and it encourages engagement via likes, shares and comments. Develop a quarterly posting schedule and update it every 60 days, so you are always one month ahead. Don’t feel like you have to post every day. Posting consistently is the key. Blogs can also be a good starting point, but identify who will be contributing at the outset and how often. Perhaps begin quarterly and increase frequency from there.
- Do share content from other sources. This does not mean trying to pass it off as you own, but literally sharing articles and information from other organizations or news outlets that is relevant to your business. Those “share” buttons on websites and social media are intended to be used. Share content (with full credit to the original source) and add your own comment about how it relates to your service, product or philosophy. You can set-up Google alerts through a gmail account or simply follow other accounts on Facebook or LinkedIn to find appropriate content.
- Don’t underestimate the content that you actually have to offer. We sometimes overlook what could make great content within our organizations because we think it is what everybody does or that it wouldn’t be that interesting. Celebrate big and little milestones – birthdays, new hires, anniversaries, project completions, volunteering or team building events. Recognize clients, partners and communities. Identify ways that you are making things better, faster, easier or cheaper and call them out. Use hashtags and tag other organizations to expand your reach and searchability.
- Do leverage holidays, seasons and events. Everyday is a celebration or national recognition of something. Sift through the National Day Calendar and identify the ones that best align with your organization, then integrate these simple posts into your quarterly content calendar. Likewise, you can call out seasonal changes, National Holidays and special events within your community. Put a unique spin on them if possible. Maybe you recycle thousands of tons of cardboard every year – that could make a great factoid post on Earth Day.
- Do use automated scheduling tools. There is no need to go in every day to post on social media. You can schedule posts up to a year in advance on Facebook or use an online tool like HootSuite to manage multiple platforms simultaneously.
- Don’t sell all the time. Remember that all content is marketing, but not all marketing is content. Promotions, sales, special and discounts have their place, but it should not be on social media platforms or in blogs. Occasionally featuring something significant is one thing – maybe you have an annual Customer Appreciation Event that you are inviting your clients to attend. But listing specials, merchandise or services every week moves you from the friend zone to the advertising zone.
Ultimately content marketing should educate and engage your audience by bringing value and highlighting the things that you both care about. It should boost your searchability by creating links between what people are searching for and what you have to offer. Finally, it should be a long-term initiative across the organization that can build over time into a meaningful part of your relationship strategy.
Want to learn more about quality content? – Check out this comprehensive guide from Google.