25 August 2012
Content is King - Have you got a strategy?
Have you got a website? Then you need a content strategy.
When working on a web project the allure of the site map, wire frame and visuals can all too quickly render the most elegant and accomplished design useless when content is rushed at the last minute before the project goes live.
Just think about how people use the web, are you going to read a news section that has been updated twice in the last year and the only thing the brand had to say was “we have a new website or join us on twitter”.... I think not!
Content is the cornerstone of your online presence and in order for it to be successful it must be clear, concise and engaging- FACT.
Here I will try and guide you on how a content strategy should work to create a successful online brand.
WHAT IS A CONTENT STRATEGY?
The framework that supports a business in controlling and managing the content that is published online about the brand and it’s products or services.
ESTABLISH YOU GOALS
First of all you need to decide what you want to achieve from your strategy, these need to be objectives that are both measurable and achievable. Here are some examples
- Increase web traffic by 20%
- Increase online sales conversions by 10%
- Improve social sentiment to 10:1 ratio
Each content strategy will different from brand to brand as your target audience, sector and online budget will vary. However it is important that from the outset the objectives of the project are clearly defined.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
You should aim to create content that will demand affinity and respect from your online customers, in order to do this you must understand what they do online. What are their favourite websites? are they active use social media users? do they engage in blogs? how often do they visit your site and how long to do they spend on there?
By undertaking this research you will be able to create a better understanding of the content your audience wants to see and hear from your brand online. Most importantly you will be able develop a content strategy in the right place. For example, if only 5% of your audience are active twitter users but 25% of them use Facebook you know where your social media presence should be and what content you need to develop and publish to turn your objectives into a reality.
Who and what is your brand online
Research your brand online because, no matter how new, old or niche your product or service is, it’s highly likely that people will be talking about your brand online.
Search your brand name on Google to find out what’s out there (Note: your brand should rank at 1st and 2nd position for the search term of your brand name at least, and if it doesn't, you should be shouting “Houston we have a problem!”). Find out if people are having conversations about your brand? Are these conversations positive or negative or both? This research will help you understand how people perceive your brand online and most importantly (especially in social media) how you can respond, become part of the conversation and increase brand sentiment.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
Google your main competitors and find what content they are publishing online, are they successful? Do they update their website often? What are people saying about their brand online and what types of content do they publish? This research will help discover what aspects of your competitors content strategy is working (strengths) and it may unveil things that that they are not doing so well (weaknesses). Use this information to your advantage, identify opportunities that they haven’t spotted yet and where necessary, develop a similar strategy where they have been successful. Keep your customers close but your competitors closer.
Once you understand the online environment (both customers and competitors) through research, you can begin to build a content strategy that will engage with your audience and differentiate you from your competitors. Adding value and creating content that will draw users back to your website or social media platform isn’t easy but here are some examples.
- Competition or prize give away
- A free download
- A new product trial (invite only to test our new product)
- A video tutorial
- Crowd Sourcing- new ideas, names,products (get your audience involved and let them become part of the brand).
Decide who will be responsible for developing new content and who will ensure quality is maintained at all times. To do this successfully, develop a policy to ensure the people who control the content clearly understand what can and cannot be published online. Use this to ensure your content is consistent, don’t allow lots of different people control the content you publish, and if there is, ensure someone oversees the work they do.
Once your content strategy has been established it is vital that it it's success is measured against the marketing objectives set at to the beginning of the process. Ensure you make time to review the progress of the strategy periodically i.e. once a month. Assess the success of your work and ensure that the appropriate adjustments after a review to ensure it’s successful.
Here are some great free tools that will help you monitor and improve the success of your campaign.
Google Analytics – How much traffic does your site generate, what pages are user looking at and for how long?
Social Mention – This site offer a range of tools that produce easy to understand metrics including, reach, sentiment, passion and strength.
Hootsuite- A very useful tool that will help you manage accounts across Twitter, Facebook, Wordpress, Foursquare and LinkedIn. This is more of an account management tool but it deserves a mention for its powerful functionality.