Baby Steps Toward A Content Strategy
The most successful brands in content marketing are the ones who use their expertise to help consumers in their daily lives -- feeding their interests and solving their problems. In today’s always-on world, that means sharing the right content at the right moment. But that’s easier said than done. For a lot of brands, the most useful content is often hidden or not built to share. For others, they simply don’t have the resources to communicate in the new ways that consumers now expect.
The good news is that a lot of brands realize this and are embarking on content strategy projects. But building a good content strategy can be time-consuming, expensive, and intense – and people can wind up getting caught in what I call “analysis paralysis.” That said, there are some simple steps that your brand can take. Here are some tactical pointers that allow for a quicker, less expensive process to help get started.
Getting Ready for a CMS
A big step for a lot of brands is to develop a modern, dynamic Content Management System (CMS) – a tool that allows them to keep track of their content, analyze performance, publish across channels, and customize personalize delivery – all in real time. But waiting for the budget or resources to set up that kind of system shouldn’t stop you from taking some immediate and useful steps. Even if you can’t invest in a CMS tool yet, every brand should still have an easily found set of information about what’s going on with their content.
Get in the habit of collecting and recording data about your content. Make a complete list of all the information that will be useful to know about your content in the long-term. Categorize certain topics and themes that align best with your brand. Figure out which specific keywords and tags will boost your SEO. Customize different versions of content for different kinds of consumers. Take note of how different pieces of content are interconnected.
Recording this kind of information will prove extremely useful should there be any changes or disruptions in your content team down the road. Finding and updating content that’s suddenly out-of-date will become easier. Alerting staff when digital rights are set to expire can save money. All of these steps will help you to analyze and reflect on what’s working (and what’s not), as well as figure out ways to develop and deploy new content more efficiently.
Using Media Partners for Insights
Many companies use their own websites to collect data on what kinds of content resonate with their consumers. However, this subset of information only reflects consumer expectations about what type of content is available on your site. It doesn’t show you what kind of content people are interested in when they’re on social channels, lifestyle channels or any other potentially relevant but alternate space.
By contrast, an outside media partner can give you data about search, stickiness and sharing of content that’s relevant to your brand. A lot of brands typically already have these partnerships through their regular media buying activity, which is a good start. But while these partnerships produce reports that are detailed and informative, they usually just stick to click-throughs and other traditional key performance indicators. Ask for more – work with your media partner to get holistic insights about how consumers are finding different types of content, how much time they’re spending on it, which types or formats appear most useful or shareable, and so forth. In doing so, you’ll get the meaningful information you need to source and create content that your consumers find helpful.
Can’t afford to produce your own content? Curate it
Professionally produced content can be costly. But even if you don’t have those resources, you can begin to build an audience using existing content. Some brands gather relevant, useful third-party content, wrap it and deliver it to their consumers in a consistent way. It’s an excellent way to provide value at low cost, and to begin to understand how to engage and interact with your consumers. For instance, Huggies publishes sourced photos and videos on its Highchair Critic Tumblr blog in this fashion.
Just make sure that you understand, and can work with, the internal protocols and legal questions that content curation can bring up. Partner with your company’s legal team to figure out what you have the rights to, what can be used. For instance, Tumblr’s platform has built-in rights management, but that may not satisfy your legal department. Financial services and health care brands in particular may have to deal with regulatory hurdles.
That said, perhaps the most crucial content tactic at all is to just get started. Don’t be paralyzed by the need to make your strategy perfect or to get resourced like a Hollywood studio; if you have content, just start serving it to your audience. There may be mistakes made along the way, but the easiest, least expensive thing to do is just press “send.”