HOW TO BUILD A CONTENT STRATEGY FROM A TO Z
Content plan or content strategy?
These two words are often loosely interchanged, which is understandable as the lines are a bit blurry, but these are in fact quite different from each other.
For any business looking to build a brand or person looking to monetize their social media, it’s crucial to know the difference between a content strategy and a content plan.
A content strategy is the core of every bit of content you will put out, it shows off who you are, what you are about or your expertise, while a content plan is the outline for how you will roll out your strategy, a structured plan for the content you want to share.
Think of your content strategy as the blueprint that inspires every decision you make relating to your content. With that blueprint, you will be able to clearly define your objectives and stay focused on your priorities, while ensuring that all marketing efforts are purpose-driven.
If you haven’t made one yet, no worries, this article will be your step-by-step guide for how you can create your own content strategy for success.
What should be in your Content Strategy?
Mission Statement and Goals
Why do you even want to share content? What is your aim with the content you are looking to put out there? By being fully aware of the reason for your content, you will have a clear vision of what your success will look like. This also lets you know exactly what type of content will help you achieve your objectives [and also what to not include].
This simply means knowing the right details about your target market. These insights on your audience will help you understand the kind of content your audience will love and gives you direction on what will work to attract more and more of them.
Beyond the descriptive demographics such as age and gender, go a little bit further to understand their emotional motivations and needs. Put a lot more effort into finding out the major problems they face when it comes to the industry you’re in.
This will help you build a brand strategy that can foster an emotional bond between your brand and your audience because you “get them”.
What can your expertise solve for your audience?
After understanding your audience’s emotional motivations and the key problems they are facing, you will need to come up with different ways you can meet their needs and alleviate their problems with your product, skills or services. Build on your content strategy with different solution ideas and messages you want to communicate to your current or prospective audience. And make sure your messages meet your audience’s needs.
It’s easy to have a list of ideas on the type of content you want to share, but if you want to become a recognized brand in your field, then you will need to create content that’s helpful to your audience. Do this and your audience will become loyal customers and advocates of your brand over time.
Study what your competition is doing. Look closely at what seems to be working for them and standing out to their audience. Can you emulate that, improve on it and make it your own somehow? Are there things that no one else is doing that would resonate with your audience?
An important reminder is to keep your competition analysis up to date. Your rivals, like you, are always trying to stay ahead of the game, which means they are adapting as things change around them. A regular review is necessary.
An honest review of your current content
This is also called a content audit. Reviewing the content you have previously shared will help you assess its performance, identify trends and gaps and it will inform the changes, next steps and the direction you should take.
Try this mini audit exercise on your Instagram:
What is getting a lot of engagement on your feed, is it the stories or posts?
What type of topics always gets more comments, shares or saves?
What type of posts hardly ever get engagement?
Are your videos being viewed, and which videos do well, looking at the topic and duration?
This is where an audit is most useful, you get to see what has been doing really well and find ways to replicate it to grow your engagement; and stop wasting your efforts with the content that your audience doesn’t enjoy as much.
Create a clear timeline of when you will get it done
Setting a completion date will help you break down all the work and make sure you stay focused in building your strategy in time. Your strategy should ensure your content and online efforts all work toward achieving your goals and ultimately builds the business you want. If you decide to outsource this step and get some help in building your content strategy, make sure you’re involved in every step of the way.
The process of assessing your performance and shaping a strategy that will take you where you want to be isn’t a one day job and requires commitment. You need to know exactly how much effort you’re willing to invest and decide if you will need some help.
Before we dwell on the monetary cost to outsource help for your content strategy, for solopreneurs and small businesses it’s important to factor in time as a cost. Evaluate the amount of time it will take to go through the process of building your strategy yourself.
Formulate a distribution strategy
This speaks to how you will get your content out there and seen by as many people as possible. Sharing a blog or posting without purpose won’t get you very far.
You will need to determine which platforms your audience spends time on the most - you might have seen your competitors gain success from being on Instagram and Pinterest or maybe the people you're looking to attract are professionals that spend most of their time on LinkedIn - the key is identifying the best place for you to connect with your audience and and showing up there regularly.
Understanding where you are as a brand is also important. Ask yourself if you should be creating content that explains what your brand and business is all about before jumping to trying to convert your audience? Or maybe you have enough of a following to start looking at collecting data from them (building your mailing list) and connecting with them more, so you can convert them into buyers?
When is the best timing to post? This answer is different for everyone and again is driven by how your audience behaves - what time are they most active? Are they online more after work? You can learn about their behavior through your insights; and this should also include your promotional posts.
Are you ready to include paid channels such as ads and influencers?
Those are some of the most important questions to answer in your distribution strategy.
After getting an idea of how you will distribute your content, think about the channels you can use to be more effective and better connect with your audience.
Below are some of the most common you can start with:
Online forums and Communities
Identify the ones you’re ready to commit to. Some are pivotal for growing your business, like social media, so make sure you choose a mix of channels that will give you the reach you need to reach your ultimate goals. Social media alone can set you up and give you influencing power, allowing you to drive traffic to other platforms, like online shops, digital conferences or podcasts; where you can nurture your relationship or convert them to buyers.
Create a content plan
Now that you’re all set with the important foundation, it’s time to create your very own content plan and let your strategy guide your content calendar.
What makes up your content plan?
strategic content: images and videos that visually show what your brand wants to be known for and the products/services you offer.
captivating captions: that work to build a connection with your audience and establish your brand in their minds.
dated posts: spread the content over a set period of time to ensure you stay in consistent contact with the community you're working to build & grow.
It can be time-consuming creating content and planning it out ahead of time, but it's always well worth the effort. Posting consistently is the best way to keep your brand top of mind for the people in your audience.
Of course, driving a particular message into the minds of people and becoming known for something takes time, so you'll need to stick to your content strategy for 6-9 months.
If you need assistance with building your content strategy or want to save time with our monthly done-for-you content plans, don’t hesitate to look through our services and book a discovery call today.