What is one way to show your expertise, share your messages, improve visibility and exposure for your brand and communicate your brand values? Through your content of course!
As you embark on your journey to develop a content marketing strategy, you’ll have a lot of questions about what content to create and how much and when to share your content and as I did my own research, I found some helpful insights that might help and I’ve compiled them into a simple 6-step process.
Watch my summarized video but also keep reading below for details on each step.
One of the things that brought me major clarity was planning out all the various forms of content that I could share. You might be thinking, ‘I don’t have any content to share’, but I assure you, once you start digging, a world of content will open up to you.
Your content can include pages on your website including your portfolio; a quick video about your products or services; you can write up a news release on developments in your business; you can even get creative and prepare some graphics inviting people to follow you on social media.
The best place to start, however, is to think about the messages you want to share each day, week or month. What do you want your target audience to know most about you? Start from there and then create your content around the message.
Tip: Set a day of the week or month where you plan your content. It’s important to have time and space to plan so that you are giving your planning the focus that it needs.
Today we have more options than just writing articles. You can design graphics using tools like Canva. You can host a podcast using an app like Anchor. I know you’re already familiar with how to create videos with your phone, but do you also know you can use an app like Headliner to grab the audio from your video and now you have two pieces of content that you can share?
It’s important to know the best format that suits your audience, however. You don’t want to create a podcast for an audience that prefers video. Getting to know your audience is an exercise in itself, but guess what, it also makes for a great piece of content. That’s right! If you put together a ‘getting-to-know-you survey’ to find out the likes and dislikes of your audience, that is also a piece of content you might want to create and it will drive engagement.
Tip: Just like with planning, it’s a good idea to set aside a chunk of time to create content, but think about if there is an opportunity for you to get help with creating content. Depending on how much content you want to create, you may need some help to get it all done in a timely fashion.
Before you ask, the answer is ‘NO’! Production is not the same as creation. Creation is shooting or filming the video for example and production is editing the video with all its cuts, intro’s, outro’s, text and animations. In most cases, creation and production are two completely different things that require their own chunks of time.
This is definitely an area that you might want to outsource to save yourself some time. Find some great editors and proofreaders for your articles or video editors for your YouTube content and possibly someone who can design some great graphics.
Make sure you have your content written with detailed instructions so that it can be easily understood by whoever you outsource your production to. The truth is, you don’t want to get caught up in the trial and error of production. What you think will take an hour could take 4 or 6 hours or all day and that could disrupt the time you have for your other content. Two of my favourite places to get the help I need is MyOwnVA and Fiverr.com.
Tip: During the production phase, you might want to think of 1 or 2 other ways to slice a particular piece of content. For example, I might start with sharing the opening paragraph of an article on day one, then on day 3, I share a quote or a juicy nugget of info from that same article to bring more attention to it during the week. Just like with cats, there’s more than one way to skin a piece of content.
Now that you have your excellently-created and professionally produced content, it’s time to put it on a schedule. If you took my advice and created that ‘getting-to-know-you’ survey to get to know your audience better, then you probably have an idea of the best day in the week to share your content. If not, trial and error works fine too.
Whether you are sharing your content through your website or social media, there is likely some statistical insights that will show you your audience’s behaviour, including the day and time of the week they are most likely to see your content.
Not to worry, I didn’t forget about sharing some resources to help you with your scheduling. My absolute favourite, I have to admit is Sprout Social. If you have the budget, I highly recommend using them, not just to schedule content, but also to monitor and engage on your networks and you can also run a number of reports to evaluate what’s working and what’s not.
The next best runner-up is a platform that I currently use called Hootsuite. It’s pretty simple to use on any level. You can invite team members if you want help with scheduling, tracking and monitoring content and you’ll even have access to a publishing calendar which is perfect for helping you with planning your content.
Tip: Both Sprout Social and Hootsuite have an ‘Auto-schedule’ feature that will add your content to a queue and share it at the best possible time. After you have auto-scheduled for a couple of weeks you can check the metrics for the days and times that work best for your content.
This step might sound similar to scheduling but it’s not. Scheduling is a form of distribution to your owned platforms like your website and social media. But this type of distribution requires that you go one step further and get your content onto the platforms of others.
The most effective distribution method that I have seen is through groups and forums. Facebook and LinkedIn have the ability to form groups and if you get in on any one of these sub-communities, you’ll have made a tribe for life where you can connect with members of your audience, share your content and they will potentially share your content as well or even engage with it i.e. leave a comment, a like or a thumbs-up emoji.
You do have to pay attention to the rules though. The group leaders or admins often have a strict set of rules about when and how often you can blatantly ‘promote’ yourself so be sure to adhere to them. Even if you’re sharing helpful information that has nothing to do with your business, you always want to be sure you do it within context or you risk being booted out of the group.
My other recommended form of distribution is advertising. If you have the budget, have a graphic created that promotes your article or video, publish that graphic on Facebook or Instagram and promote it for a week or two so that you give it maximum reach. You put so much time and effort into creating and producing your content, it’s in your best interest that it reaches as many eyes and ears as possible.
Tip: Targeting will be your best friend in this area. Your content will go very far if it reaches the exact people who will find it interesting. Be very selective when choosing the groups you want to share in and also in setting up the audience criteria of your advertising campaign.
What? Did you think that content marketing was all about you? Unfortunately, you won’t be maximizing the exposure to your brand if you’re only about sharing your content. That’s one-way communication and when was the last time that was effective in building a relationship?
Sometimes you have to take part in what others are talking about; so as much as you are sharing your content in groups, you can read, share and engage with the content of others as well. Leave them comments that let them know you read their article, you understand and you have a strong opinion for or against it. This is how communities are built and it’s also how you position your name and your brand among those communities that matter to you the most.
Tip: Simple comments like: “great article, thanks for sharing!” are ok but not the best way to go when you want to develop a presence, position your brand and build integrity. Go deep and take the opportunity to really share your thoughts and by the way, that thought is yet another piece of content. Grab a screenshot of it and schedule it on your Hootsuite.
At the end of the day, there is content all around us. Even for personal brands, there is so much we interact with within one day, it’s almost impossible to not find something that you can share that is engaging and relevant to your audience. The keyword there is ‘relevant’. Not everybody cares about what you’re eating at that restaurant, but most will care if that restaurant is having a special on all-you-can-eat wings…if you catch my drift.
Once you’ve completed these steps, just rinse and repeat, but remember to always aim to add value, educate, entertain or inspire; these are the pillars of great content that will bring you content marketing success.
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