To succeed at content marketing, there is a basic set of skills that you must possess.
This blog is a summary of the four most basic content marketing ideas with new-age hacks to help execute them.
While most senior marketers are aware of and experienced in these requirements, individuals who are new to the field are likely to struggle with the volumes of guides out there.
Newbies can use this write-up to avert the obstacles they are likely to face, and more seasoned content marketers can check off their agendas the fundamentals that they’re covering while discovering time-saver methods of implementing them.
1. Understand goals and create a focused mission statement
A content marketing plan begins with the goals you set. Without clarity of what you want to accomplish, you cannot create content with powerful underlying intent, which is the basis of effective content marketing.
Before you proceed to actual creation of content follow these 4 steps to define your goals.
Step 1: Survey your environment
Like battles involve surveillance of the terrain and the other army (and you would crash and burn if you didn’t do this), you need to do the same with content marketing. Identify your competitors, the channels at your disposal and your audience.
This involves some research – surveys of your own, and borrowed from data farming firms. Search tools help. The right Google searches, and setting keyword alerts on Google and social monitoring tools like Social Mention help to some extent. Try tools like SurveyMonkey, they save a lot of time.
Step 2: Develop a Buyer Persona (or multiple ones)
You require a description of the person who would be interested in and purchase your products or services (the more detailed the description, the better). Interests, concerns, behavior are key. Use specific questions to survey your audience and social media polling apps to save time.
Step 3: Monitor your competitors
Observe what they implement. Adapt the ones that make sense, figure out how to break areas that the big players are dominating. Try Google alerts, Spy Fu, Topsy, these tools can help.
Step 4: Research social platforms and technology
Where is your audience present? Where do they spend the most time? What are the latest features of social platforms and how can you use them? Which applications can help cut down time investments and make your job easier. Figure these out.
Next, outline clear and well-defined goals. It could be anything as specific as overcoming a certain perception attached to your type of services or creating stories with user-cases for your product. Keep them that specific and document them.
With goals done, write a mission statement. Ask yourself these questions before you do that.
What do we want to accomplish?
How do we do it?
Who are we targeting?
What value are we adding?
2. Create and share content in audience-friendly packages
Every step of content marketing requires planning. Cutting straight to the chase may make you feel like you are getting stuff done, but doing so can get you stuck.
Here are a few things you can do to create and share audience-friendly content.
Generate a content bucket and a content calendar
If you kick start each month with a bucket of 50 ideas, your month is more likely to go smoothly and leave you time to “React” which is extremely important on social media.
List down 10 reasons why your audience should choose your brand over others (specific user cases), 20 blog topics, 10 ideas for simple contests/discussions. The idea is to keep a running stock of ideas. Add to it as you come across them. Hubspot’s got a fun topics generator you could try for blog topics.
Make divisions based on themes of content and place your ideas across your content calendar. Ensure to take account of all important days (for your brand and otherwise).
DrumUp has an interesting feature that lets you view scheduled social media content in calendar form. So when you are curating content, you can still be sure that you are following your decided theme or pattern for content.
Use engaging formats
Content that is engaging for your audience. Remember who they are and decide your formats based on that information. For instance, foodies might want to see their content more than read about it.
But visuals are non-negotiable for social media. Use photographs, graphs, infographics, videos, whatever you can in context with the content you’re sharing.
Match the tone of your content to your audience and the platform your are sharing on.
Curate powerful content
Content curation is powerful. If you can make available useful information to your audience, there’s nothing like it. Curate content and tag or @mention the source, you’d be giving credit, building valuable relationships and generating more shares all in one go.
Finally, set up tests on your shares – share them at different time intervals and measure engagement. Identify your most successful blog posts (landing pages) and referral links from Google Analytics and re-structure your content to include more of what’s working.
3. Develop a relevant and powerful content hub
A content hub (pages attached to your website with content about set topics) is a must. That’s home to your original content and means to build authority, visibility and encourage revisits.
Set your topics: Explore your scope for what to include (technical how to’s for your niche) and document what you intend to talk about. Pick topics that can help improve your revenues over time (attract your target audience).
Build the hub: The technical aspects may not concern you, but it is important to have your tech team incorporate share plug ins and SEO elements (meta descriptions, page titles and keywords). Your Content Management System should also be easy to use to update content and add the basic types of media – images, videos and the lot. WordPress is easy to implement and use, and comes with SEO and other useful extensions.
Promote it: Promoting a hub is extra effective when you involve people.
- Reach out to established firms you could partner with for content.
- Do trade offs. Offer content in return for visibility on external websites.
- Create content with people so you can share the task of marketing (content also has added value when you have an added perspective.)
- Craft interesting and short descriptions and invite people to your hub from social media.
- Use multiple formats of content for promotions (visuals could go on Pinterest, Tumblr). Remember to craft your content to speak to your Audience Personas.
Consistently monitor Key Performance Indicators: Use tools like Brand24 to monitor social mentions, engagement and sentiments and Google Analytics to fill in the dots (track time spent on a page, visits to a page). Use the insights to add more content that is popular to your hub.
4. Increase exposure for content that you create
For maximum exposure your content has to be discoverable to your target group.
Ensure that you’re following the basic laws of SEO.
- Create content that genuinely helps your audience (and is directed at them with keywords they’re likely to look for)
- Write long posts at least 1000+ words and if possible 2000+ words
- Provide backlinks to your site everywhere you post content
- Use the right keyword tags for your posts for search engine indexing
- Never duplicate content (copyright and search engines penalize duplicated content)
Exposure also requires the participation of people (they’ve got to share your content).
Here are 5 ways to creatively get them to do so.
#1. Involve them in the content you create (expert interviews and audience generated content)
#2. Use interactive elements on your blogs
#3. Create contests that require sharing
#4. Share their content occasionally as well
#5. Ask them to. Simple requests for re-tweets and shares work
Participate in communities like Quora, Google Plus communities and groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Create Twitter lists to better organize and reach out to the community that you build.
Interacting with the community is absolutely necessary with social media. Don”t make a task out of interaction and push it down the priority list because there’s no substitute. Each of the steps discussed save more time when planned out than when not. So use this write-up as a plan to get yourself started, you should see positive results on implementation.
Guest Author: Jessica Davis is a Content Strategist at Godot Media, a leading content marketing firm. She works with businesses and individuals creating targeted content for various requirements. She also manages a team of article writers at Godot. Other areas of interest include technology, science and fashion.