How to create a content strategy

How to create a content strategy

Creating content for an eCommerce companies social media profiles and blog pages is a lot more complicated than it may first appear. There is more planning required than simply sitting down and creating content as and when the mood strikes, as content needs to be regular, of good quality and relevant. Keeping on track with content can be difficult for those with little time on their hands and can sometimes even be halted by a dip in inspiration. But this does not mean that content creation can be put on hold until your creative flow of ideas has come back to you, content still needs to be created consistently, reaching the same level of quality as the posts before it. The best way to keep on track with content creation is to work from your own content strategy, giving you guidelines and time scales to create your content across so you can guarantee you’ll never miss an important post.

So what exactly has to be in a content strategy and why are they useful? They are incredibly useful in the sense that they keep you on track. A good plan will have a set in stone schedule for you and possibly others to adhere to depending on the size of your company. It can even help with idea creation and the linking of topics if the plan is created in a way that allows you to do so. As for what has to go into your content strategy, the list is completely dependant on your company’s personal needs and can be tailored accordingly. However there are a few steps that should be taken in every kind of content strategy for any business.

Outline your goals

Every content strategy needs a direction, how will you know what content to produce if you have no idea of the effect you want it to have on your audience? Look at your company goals and find where this kind of extra content could be used as an extra way of achieving them. Then look at how your content will help you get there, what are you expecting it to do? Whether it be that you want your content to boost engagement, get shared thoroughly within your industry, bring in some extra traffic to your website or even help you build stronger relationships with your customers content creation can help when it is done effectively. Once you have your end goal in mind, start to tailor your content to be able to help you reach it, make sure its tone and format are correct to convey the kind of message you want it to. For example, content full of promotion and sales information will not help your company build strong, sustainable relationships with your customers as it will come across quite cold and formal. Whereas a friendly, talkative piece of content will likely be something your audience can connect with and feel involved with. Whether you’re giving them information, news or quick guides giving them something to discuss and respond to will help you build those all important relationships with your customers.

Identify your target audience

Once you know what you want your content to achieve, you need to know who you are trying to reach with it. This should be partially determined by your company’s existing audience if your content is intended to push an increase in things such as conversions but can be expanded for the purpose of content creation. You need to determine the exact demographics of who you are trying to reach, whether it be by age range, gender, country of residence or even their interests. When you have a clear and distinctive idea of who you are trying to engage with, you then need to understand where you can find these people. What kind of platforms and websites are they using, can you get involved on them or make profiles of your own as a company to use on them. Determine how best to get noticed by your target audience on those platforms and work on a strategy to increase the awareness of your brand throughout it. This will not be easy however without your content, content you can only create once you know what your audience want to see. Take a look into what topics they are most active in, take insight from discussions on comment sections about what catches their interests and they questions they are having. Also take note of what content format they are discussing these things on, whether it may be the comment section of a blog, social media post or even a video as this may help you with your decision on what kind of content to create further down the line. Every part of popular existing content is key, from the way it is displayed to the tone of voice it uses, as this can tell you a lot about the preferences of the audience viewing it. Consider whether you can create similar content in your own voice with new information, if the answer is yes then this may be a worthwhile route to take for your business.

Find your ideal topic

With a defined audience out there waiting for you, and a strong idea of what kind of content they enjoy it is now crucial for you to find something to talk about. Go back to the roots of your company and list out its values and what it is all about. What topics does your company specialise in and how far through those topics does your knowledge spread, if the answer is not very far then it may be worthwhile enlisting some in house help for your content creation in those sectors. The best places for your company to specialise in content are the areas where you are an expert, where can you provide invaluable information or help out your customers with their queries and thoughts as much as possible. A topic you can talk about fluently whilst still offering valuable information, sharing news and being as engaging as possible are the best ones to focus your company’s energy on. But what interests the people within your company may not be as accessible to those who are buying from your brand, deciphering the topics you are an expert on that relate to your customers and those that don’t can be the defining line between successful and failing content. Choose the ones that your audience can connect with, by this point you should have already researched what they engage with the best, are any topics on your list similar to those found before and can you adapt any to suit a new purpose? Build a solid base from here of topics to refer to throughout your content creation, having main topics with smaller more detailed ones branching off until you have totally exhausted its resources, then creak them up even more.

Create a content planner

When you have all the possible information on your audience, potential content and platforms you can find it is time to actually plan out your content creation properly. With a good list of content formats and main topics ready it should be easier to set out a schedule to keep them in check. This planner is not only a good way to know when to post content, but also to balance your workload in a way that means content is always created on time. Go through all your forms of content and set out the frequency they need to be posted at, allocating them specific days if possible whilst allowing time for creation of content in between each. Figure out how many pieces of each kind of content you want per week and allocate these days too, in accordance with the content types you have already set out, choosing an appropriate topic for each medium. An example of this is setting mondays and wednesdays for blog posting, having monday based around informational content and wednesdays around how-to tutorials whilst also creating conversational video content on a friday. Having a set plan means you not only have a regular posting schedule ready to ensure consistent content, but it also gives you guidelines to run off for each piece so hopefully ideas will not dry up and become stale. This planning can be done for all kinds of content and is best displayed in some kind of visual weekly or monthly calendar with clear annotations and bookmarks. If you notice any unusually large empty gaps and have some time free within them, it may be worth looking at slotting in an extra piece of content where possible, but be careful not to overload your schedule which will annoy your audience and help you run out of inspiration quicker. Over time you will be able to find the best day for each kind of content you are publishing, along with the best times of day to post too for each format and topic. For example, you may find that people prefer simpler graphics and quick entertaining images on a morning but want more comprehensive, in depth content on an afternoon such as podcasts or blogs. Tailoring your content around these results will ensure you find the best engagement periods for each piece of content you publish.

Find a method of tracking results

Finally, once all of your amazing content is out there being found by your target audience it is important to know exactly how well it is being recieved by those who come across it. Using analytic tools that suit your overall goal the best you can show and track the evolution of your content helping you reach that purpose. Knowing how well your content is doing will let you know if you are on the right track and give you some incentive and data to use in order to keep your goals in line with real life. Tracking performance also boosts productivity as it shows the changes that may need to be made in order to create better performing content if something is not being recieved the way it should be. For example, a topic with less engagement may be worth dropping or altering slightly to suit its audience better. Reasons for lack of engagement can range from using the wrong tone of voice to posting at the wrong time of day for it to be seen. If you alter these and no better solution is found, it may well be the topic itself that is failing you and definitely worth leaving behind. Making changes in this way ensures that you get the most engagement for your content and keep your customers as happy as possible when it comes to engaging with your extra content. When done well, your content will not only tie in well with your business but will also be tailored around your audience in a way that offers them some kind of benefit from either knowledge or entertainment. Of course as people change and grow your strategy will need to be adapted, you audience may change and so may their interests so it is important to frequently go back through your entire content strategy right from your goals to your content to check you are still appealing to as many people as you can.

About the Author
Laura
Content Manager