Certainly, you use content marketing in your marketing strategy, or at least you associate this term. But do you associate the term Content Strategy? If so, I congratulate you. If not, you have omitted a very important element in planning your content marketing strategy.
To better illustrate this, we present a short definition of both terms.
Content Strategy: planning, development and management of information content.
Content Marketing: creating and distributing content for marketing purposes.
Do you see the difference? These are two completely different definitions, but very interrelated. One should not exist without the other. But about 75% of organizations conduct content marketing activities without a basic strategy. This means that most of the content created does not have a defined framework and specific goals, which creates content for the very idea of creation.
Here are 10 steps to help you create your own content strategy:
- tables of pages;
- publication calendar;
- style guidelines;
- list of keywords;
- short information about the brand (brief);
- guidelines for editors;
- a database of graphics and/or digital resources;
- instructions for external authors;
- content maintenance plan;
STEP 1: Page tables specify content requirements.
Page tables, also known as content schemas, are useful in determining content requirements for websites, social media and other media channels before such content is created.
Style boards help to separate the same content and their goals from style. The boards answer questions such as:
- What content is to be created?
- What is the type of page?
- What is the area of the company’s operations?
- Who is responsible for accepting the content?
- When will the content expire?
- Who is the content targeted to?
- What goals do we want to achieve?
- What brand messages do we want to convey?
- What products or services are offered on the site?
- What is the purpose of the recipients? (CTA)
- Who writes and edits content on the site?
STEP 2: The publication calendar organizes the creation of content.
The publication calendar determines what content will be created when in what format and for which channel. The digital calendar also tracks the connections of these contents, including the way they will be adapted and their response reinforced in social media channels.
The publication calendar should answer the following questions:
- How much content?
- How often are the content published?
- When will the content be published?
- What are the requirements for content?
- Which keywords will the specific materials focus on?
- Where will the content be published?
- Who is responsible for the various stages, from creation to publishing?
STEP 3: Style guidelines for authors and graphic designers.
Style guidelines are documents that describe the rules and recommendations for creating content elements related to the brand.
They can be divided into two categories:
Guidelines for authors include rules in grammar, vocabulary, style, tone and expression. Usually different depending on the channel.
The guidelines for graphic artists include the principles of invoking authors, text-graphics relations, handling of pictures, images, video materials, fonts and colour schemes.
STEP 4: Personas.
Personas are fictional characters, created on the basis of customer data/users that represent different segments of your target audience. They help to understand for whom the content is produced, which allows selecting topics, defining key themes and adapting messages in accordance with the interests of the recipients.
STEP 5: List of keywords based on SEO analysis.
Based on the search optimization analysis, the keyword list is a list of words and phrases critical to searching your company’s network, products and services.
You can create amazing content, but even the best content means little if no one ever finds it.
Hint: Keyword research tools which might help you:
– Google Keyword Planner
If you do not know how to discover valuable keywords, hire a specialist.
STEP 6: brand briefs, or the unification of the most important components of the corporate brand.
A corporate brand brief is a one-page description of the corporate brand created to ensure continuity, to which all authors of the content strategy can appeal. A brand’s brief usually contains a deliberate narrative covering elements such as:
- brand values
- brand mission
- key products and services
- impact of the brand
- target customers
- “personality” of the brand
The internal brief of the brand can be compared to the “about us” tab, however, more precise and private information for employees reflects what the brand represents and how it is positioned in the media.
STEP 7: extensive guidelines for editors to capture high-quality content.
Editorial guidelines are a checklist used by editors to ensure that high-quality content is published in brand channels. Guidelines for editors must complement existing style guidelines for authors of texts and graphics.
The editor takes care of all style recommendations. He is also responsible for checking facts, checking the originality of complex content (preventing duplicate content/plagiarism), verifying hyperlinks, checking illustrations for descriptions, numbering, consistency and other important tasks.
Hint: StoryChief might be handy here, where you can define requirements for every project separately.
STEP 8: The database of graphics and/or digital resources increases the efficiency of content production.
It’s good to have a set of ready-to-use and frequently used images, such as logos, photographs of board members, photos of products that creators will be able to easily find and use. There are many ways to store such content, from the intranet, server to dedicated programs.
STEP 9: manual for external authors helps you manage freelancers.
The manual for external authors is a written (sometimes also visual) summary of expectations and concepts for people who develop content outside of the company (copywriters, editors). Instructions for external authors speed up the editing and production of content, because it familiarizes artists with any style recommendations.
An example of such a guide may be the so-called Definition of Done, often used in agile software development.
STEP 10: delete, re-use and archive content as planned.
Not all content has the ability to resist changing trends, motivations and communication strategies. The content refresh plan sets out the guidelines for the assessment of content in terms of their removal, recycling and archiving (for possible updates in the future). The updated plan should cover the whole life cycle of the content.
Hint: Content Management tool
An example tool that can help you manage content is SocialBee. This marketing harvester allows you to categorize and automatically repost content on multiple channels simultaneously.
SocialBee is also helpful in creating the publication calendar, about which I wrote in STEP 2. Full SocialBee review soon.