Developing Your Content Strategy

There are a lot of ways to streamline your social media marketing and blog post outreach, and a dozen people will tell you a dozen different ways to do it the best. However, if they’re worth their salt, you will hear a few resounding repeats in the advice thrown your way. I’d like to cover some ideas about developing your content strategy in  in short-form.

Firstly, though…

What is Content Strategy?

In short, Content Strategy is how your brand chooses to use social media content (blog posts, Facebook posts, Instagram, Twitter, and so on) in order to strategically appeal to the audience and make connections that become conversions.

Content strategy is kind of like the Ad Man job of the 20th century, in a way. People got really tired of kitschy commercials and two-page print ads in magazines they didn’t want to subscribe to once 2001 arrived. Print advertising isn’t dead, but it has changed. Just like content strategy isn’t new–it’s just been evolving for a while and we’re finally seeing how this little component of online marketing and social media outreach can be a hugely important part to any small business or solopreneur’s strategy.

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Develop your content strategy with authenticity, accuracy, and your audience in mind.

The thing is, content strategy isn’t hard, per se, but it takes a little time to develop and the skillset is an elusive mix of knowledge, common sense, and social savvy. The idea is to develop content that appeals to your crowd in an authentic way–because no one likes a sales pitch that feels smarmy, out-of-touch or too thirsty. I prefer to coach clients when possible to develop their own brand strategy and give them the tools to implement it themselves. I do provide content and social media designs, but largely I truly believe most small businesses and solo professionals can be successfully coached to take the reigns of most of their own social media campaign with the right information and toolset.

Being an Authority & Expert in Your Field

The reason I believe most small businesses and professionals have the potential to arm their own social media is because the biggest piece of the puzzle is being an authentically engaged, dedicated expert in your field. You can learn how to wrangle your social media; but your expertise is exactly why you do what you do. That being said, a successful and well-done content strategy plan can be time-consuming–which is why some choose to outsource the job to freelancers like myself who invest their time and unique toolsets into this as a full-time career.

But–time and toolsets aside–

People want knowledge and answers to their questions. That’s the big thing to remember when piecing together your brand’s social media strategy. People want to hear from an authority on topics of concern. This is where a small business has the chance to give followers and potential followers a clear idea of who your company is and what knowledge and expertise you offer. The internet is a scary place filled with misinformation and scammy back-alleys. So, if you can prove you’re a genuine, authentic person with actual authority and knowledge on your topic–you’re golden.

Because content strategy is developing ideas about how you can communicate your knowledge and know-how to your audience in an authentic way that keeps them coming back for more. That’s it. In a nutshell, that’s what you need to do in order to grow the right kind of following that will turn into sales/loyal clients/returning patrons (and so on).

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A successful plan for your content strategy is possible with a little planning and consideration.

How Do I Create a Plan for Content?

You might be asking where to begin and wondering how to create a plan for your content.

Forget the strategy, how do I even make good content?!

I’ll talk more about the particulars of content in a future post–but simply put Content is simply the stuff you are talking about, promoting, and showing across your social media platforms. Are you talking about the hot new homes for sale in your area? That’s your content: the real estate market is the subject you’re discussing. Are you sharing a DIY post on how to mend a hole in your shirt? Then your content is craft and DIY related, and your mending a shirt blog post is probably going to appeal for people searching DIY methods for fashion, or “clothing hacks” for everyday people.

Knowing your audience is absolutely key in planning your content. But before that, even, you must know your brand. This seems insanely obvious, but it is painfully true that many solopreneurs and small businesses do not know their own business well enough to be generating the right kind of content.

Often times, my clients know their industry really well, but they’re failing to see how valuable and indispensable they are within the industry they serve. Know your own worth, trust your authority, and make lists about what you do and why. Once you have explored what you do and how you serve people with expertise and authority–write down your plan.

Content Strategy: The Authority Plan

Develop a two-week plan that covers a certain topic in part. You can cover this over the course of two or three blog posts, and then promote these posts across other social media platforms. Talk about your current blog posts that are offering an “in-depth look at the industry (fill in your niche)” or share resources related to your two-week campaign in addition to the blog post you wrote on the topic.

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Create a sense of authority and expertise while also remaining relatable to your audience.          Photo by Christina Morillo

This is a reinforcement of your expertise and authority, which highlights what you can do for your clients and why you’re worth hiring. The best part is? Your how-to and information campaigns can honestly help people and you never had to pitch an awkward, weird sales-pitch to someone who didn’t want to hear it in the first place.

Content Strategy: The Launch

Gear your social media toward a launch. Maybe it will be the launch of a new product or a new class you’re teaching. It’s up for you to decide, but if this is a good fit for your small biz and what’s happening in your brand’s world, The Launch is a fantastic way to operate on a couple of marketing techniques that can really motivate people to jump on board your train of awesomeness.

The launch strategy capitalizes on a few things for your readers/viewers. First of all, since the launch happens at the end of a timeline, there is a countdown and a sense of scarcity as tickets/availability/time dwindles as the launch date draws closer. The “get it before it’s gone” mentality makes it hard to pass by if it is something that intrigues your readership or viewers.

Content Strategy: The Evergreen

I know I’ve talked about evergreen content before, but evergreen content really is that valuable. It’s the kind of stuff that, over time, stays relevant in the Google rankings because it remains relevant. If you write a really fantastic and informative, helpful post on a common problem in your field, people searching for a common solution to this common problem will be thankful you shared the answer.

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Demonstrate your expertise and show what you do as a form of content strategy.                     Photo by Andrea Piacquadio 

It’s the perfect chance to flout your authority and help some people out–who, in turn, might just poke around the rest of your website/channel/social media account and decide you’re pretty much the bee’s knees. At this point, at the very least you have the chance of earning a new follower. And, best case scenario, this evergreen content could earn you a converted client because they have found you–and your information–to be tried-and-true.

 

 

 

 

Three Types of Blog Posts and When to Use Them

There are a few strategies one can employ when it comes to blog posts, and you may be a bit confused by this. Maybe, even, you figured a blog is a blog and a post is a post and what more can we really say about it. You wouldn’t be wrong, but yet, you’d be wrong. Because blogs are two-fold in the way they are read. By this I mean, people read blogs and Google reads blogs, and those are two separate but similar things.

Choosing Your Structure

The way you set up a post can be really important, and choosing your structure is going to impact how Google finds your website as well as how readers interact with your writing. Deciding whether your content is better suited for a bulleted list, an embedded video with compelling captions, or a lengthy narrative with links, are all things to consider. Knowing what kind of content to create is only half the battle, though.

You’ll want to structure your bulleted list of information in a way that best works with Google and SEO. You’ll also want to be aware of how you’re incorporating links and tagging keywords. When it comes to my personal writing and my personal blog, I’m honestly not always practicing what I preach (and I’m making a note to myself). It’s a good goal to keep things relevant and precise, link to useful content, and offer your readers something they can use. If a list is the best way to do that, then create a list. If you love editing videos and your content is well-suited for videos, do that. My friend over at Mint & Porter really has a passion for vlogging and has started a project that showcases her talent and passion for video content. So: Be You and your passion really will guide your content.

Types of Content: Evergreen & Trending

There’s so much I could get into here, but I want to keep this writing advice to the point, so in short: consider whether a post is evergreen or a a trending topic post. Evergreen content will be those perennial posts that are never stale and can relate to your audience no matter what. Depending on your blog’s topic, this may be a useful how-to post or a post that lists some really great, fundamental information surrounding your business’s area of focus.

Trending topics are, on the other hand, just what they sound like. They are posts that are reacting to something seasonal or perhaps something that is happening in current events. It may be a local event that somehow ties into your community and small business. Or perhaps it’s a post focusing on a holiday or seasonal event. Trend posts can talk about virtually anything, but the point is to remember that once the buzz about the event you’re reacting to dies down, the traffic through that post will definitely deaden too. This isn’t always a bad thing, and you can certainly internally link to trending tops, or link to your evergreen content. Diversifying your topics and focus will create a better site all-around.

Word Counts Matter

Remember when your English teacher assigned a page count or a word count, and you wondered if word counts even matter? Well, they matter. Especially when you’re talking about SEO and blogs finding their way to Google rankings. This is maybe one of the top reasons people hire me. In addition to creating lists and links and defining keywords and research, aiming for two-thousand words can seem like a really daunting goal. Updating your content twice a week, minimum, is ideal, and making sure your posts are reaching a minimum of 1,200 words is crucial. Ideally, your word counts should be somewhere around 2,000.

To give this context, a Word document typed in some kind of standard font at a standard font-size will yield about 250 words per page. Basic editing and proofreading are, of course, incredibly important, so hitting your word count can suddenly feel like being assigned one or two college essays every single week. At least you can just link to your references rather than typing up those pesky Works Cited pages, am I right?

Contact a Writer

I hope this post was a tiny bit helpful if you’re a small business owner or otherwise considering social media and blogging as part of your workflow. You can always contact us with any questions, and if you’re curious how hiring a writer could better serve your business, please don’t hesitate to reach out.