Everyone talks about doing content marketing right, and we all know we can’t just post endless “sell” messages and social media posts about our latest products. The reality is, just like that New Year’s diet resolution you may be making right about now, sometimes we start strong with creating a plan, and then the hectic-ness of life starts shredding that plan. Before you know it, you are frantically dashing off posts with little or no substance just to say you did something.
As Jamie Griffiths from Convince and Convert writes, “In general, the further ahead you plan your digital content publishing, the better placed you are to produce a consistent flow of content that builds your brand’s perceived expertise in your chosen subject areas.”
Here are three surefire ways to keep ahead of the curve, and a few great tools we love that make creation and curation easy and fun.
1. How Do You Serve Your Customers?
Before crafting any content plan, return to the basics of why you started this business and how you can help your customers without asking for immediate return. Here are sample questions you should review:
- How do you make life, easier, better, and/or more efficient for your customers?
- What internal knowledge do you have, via yourself, a product manager or years of selling your product(s)?
- What visual assets do you have that add value or explain a concept to your customers? Don’t have any? What can you make?
- What were the most used, viewed and engaging pieces of content you made in 2014? How can you duplicate those wins?
Catalog what you know and the ways you serve and then break these ideas up into bite-size chunks that you know you can write about.
Favorite Topic Tools: No one can easily help you with a vision for how you help or serve, but once you have those ideas and keywords down, if you are still stuck for topics, try one of these generators for ideas:
2. Curate Content When You Can
Certainly a lot of your best work and results will come when you are creating fresh content (called owned media). However, you absolutely must be on the look out for informative, interesting content that you can share with your followers (shared media). This accomplishes two goals.
First, curation keeps your editorial calendar pumping with trending, relevant content that matters in your industry. Second, curating good content from other industry players and adding your own perspective is the best way to get to know influencers and media in your space. Set a post slot at least twice a month to comment on something current in the world. And be prepared to push other topics aside and do it urgently to catch a tidal wave of interest. David Meerman Scott calls this, “newsjacking.” That term should be on your radar and a tool in your toolbox.
Tools: Google Alerts is a great tool for curation and for keeping on top of not just your business, but important topics in your industry. You can also use Pocket to save articles for later that might be great fodder, or Pulse.
3. Use a Calendar
It may sound silly, but it is the basis for everything. If multiple people run your accounts, at the very least use a shared Google Doc or spreadsheet. But what should be on the spreadsheet, you say? We suggest a sheet devoted to those big ideas and topics you outlined in step 1 above. Then a second tab can be broken down by date, content topic, which medium or mediums it will appear in, the name of the person responsible for creation, and any call to action desired from the content. This is just one possible flow. You will undoubtedly have your own best way of doing things.
Tools: Of course there are many, many sample editorial calendar formats and planning guides out there. You can check a couple good ones out at:
For managing your blog, your assets and your social channels in one central hub, there are several solutions. For a business able to pay at least $200 a month, you might try Percolate. For smaller teams, solutions like CoSchedule can do the trick. If you have a WP blog, CoSchedule is a simple tool you can use to plan your content for as little as $10 a month. CoSchedule gets bonus points, because it can also help you schedule and serve up the blog content to your social channels.
We hope these tips and resources helped you. Here’s to a well-planned and carefully executed content marketing strategy for 2015!