By the time you finish reading this sentence, about 50 new websites and over 150 blog pieces will have been created (if you don’t believe me, see the live internet stats for yourself).
In this ever-increasing mass of online content, how can yours stand out? Well, in loads of ways really, but here’s a big one: by giving your content the love and attention it deserves!
It’s really not enough to design a pretty website and expect it to do the trick. Even the most beautiful of websites will cease to engage people if they are content poor, rarely updated, lack clarity or aren’t useful or interesting. And if they’re not engaged, visitors will look elsewhere. If you’re designing your beautiful website to house your content, why not make your content sing? Let the two work in tandem as the gods of digital intended!
Jumping into this world of content can very quickly get overwhelming as you start to confront questions like: What am I doing? How am I going to get all of this done? Will it be good? How will people get to see it?
That’s where content strategy can really come into its own to help you understand your audience better and provide a practical backbone to the stories you want to tell, in whatever way you want to tell them. A good strategy can really lay the groundwork for your content, and make sure that what you create lines up with who you are as a brand, and what your customers want to see from you.
Putting together a content strategy can be a big task, so here are 9 tips to help you get started.
Who does your content? Is it inhouse? Do you have some dedicated to it? A content manager? Editorial manager? Chief editor? Content officer? You might have lots of people creating content, but does anyone own and manage the bigger picture? If not, you might want to think about making someone responsible for creating and running your content strategy.
What type of content do you want to create? Project case studies, team profiles, blog posts, white papers, podcasts, infographics? What themes can you ‘own’ that would be relevant or authentic to your brand? Is the content you have created useful? Usable? Interesting? Inspiring? Does it fit in with your business goals, customer needs and ‘toe the editorial line’? Asking the right questions should help you work out what content is right for you.
Look beyond your own front door. What do other brands do that you don’t? What do you like about their approach? How could some of those things work for you? But (and this is important!) don’t just steal and repost all their content. It’s fine to ‘curate’, but if if you are republishing, always be sure to check permissions and credit the original source.
Figure out a realistic plan, create a strategy, draft out a content calendar which can be amended and updated as you go. There’s no point saying you’re going to do 5 blog posts a day if you haven’t got the resources. Plan around your capacity and that way you can maintain quality and regularity, which are key to keeping your readers coming back.
If you don’t have time to create your own content hire freelancers, crowdsource, invite guest contributors, do a swap or curate content. Curating is a great approach because it shows an outward facing personality and a keen interest in the world around you (it’s not all just ‘me, me, me!’).
Think about how your content feeds into platforms outside of your website: social media, industry blogs, online business profiles, etc. Seek out like-minded communities who are looking for content just like yours and make it available to them. If you can make someone’s life easier they’re sure to remember you.
Get some metrics. How many clicks, shares, likes? Did your content get retweeted, reblogged, emailed? Don’t get a big head or bogged down in the numbers. Use them for what they’re intended; understanding which types of content are popular, who your audience is, what times of day are best to share, and so on. There are loads of tools readily available, and in some cases free (e.g. Google analytics, SumAll), so why not give them a try.
It’s not just a digital world out there. So what else can you do with your content? Could you repurpose your content for print or deliver your thoughts at a live event? Always be thinking about how you can get the most of what you create. By being smart you can make the same content work across multiple channels, repurpose it for new audiences, and not have to reinvent the wheel every time!
There are some really great books out there that can give you a good start on your content journey (e.g. The Elements Content Strategy, Content Rules). Learning, questioning and experimenting is the only way to help you understand content strategy and gain practical knowledge on how best to create and implement your own. Go forth and explore!
16 October 2014