These days there is a lot of talk around content marketing and it’s likely to grow as we see digital media become a bigger part of our communications. Content has been around for a long time and it has been an integrated part of our marketing efforts since the beginning of marketing. What is happening now is that digital communications are skewing the picture and we have become purely digital focused, the impact of content is more measurable and we can adapt faster.
Before we go further It is good to remember POST, people, objectives, strategy and then (only then) technology (Facebook, Google, TV, whatever). This is important to remember as content is not only digital and it has multiple faces and multiple touching points.
So, when you look at content marketing, never look at Social Media as THE channel, or magazines, or TV, or … it is vital that there is an understanding of the BIG picture. All channels must and should play a role in this effort to create a seamless connectivity. Everything from the brands homepage to a printed brochure should click together.
A good content strategy revolves around internal stakeholders as much as it does around external, the biggest challenge is mostly to get people to work together and be willing to share their content between departments/brands. In this case, practitioners need to understand that if this is implemented properly it should positively reflect on productivity, innovation and the bottom line.
It is very important that all stakeholders feel involved and things come naturally, this is important for multiple reasons but most importantly gives a sense of ownership and being a part of a team.
If there is a campaign, then the waiting sound on the phone should echo that, the “tweaks” to the PPC should echo that, social media channels should echo that etc….
The anatomy of a content strategy
The basics evolve around planning, creation, delivery and often forgotten the governance of content. The ownership is important as it helps control the quality and usage.
Content strategy and content marketing strategy are not the same – Understandably people tend to confuse these two together.
A good content strategy is not only about creating content, it is about the usage of it and mapping out what already exists. Content should never be made „just to make content“ it should have a purpose and it should align with the bottom line.
Based on the Content Strategy Quad there are two components that need to have their focus and each one of them has two quads.
There is a core strategy and then there is the content component and the people component. I have adapted that approach a bit as I feel the technology component should have a stronger weight, this could be the internal communication tool that supports the overall work (this is can fit within the people focus) or the tools used to monitor and reflect on the work done.
Foundations and goals: focuses on what content is required to successfully execute the company’s core strategy. It includes characteristics such as tone of voice, target audience (stakeholders), localization and best practices such as brand guides etc.
Organization: content needs to be prioritized and accesses to it organized. What type of content sits where and does cross communicate to stakeholders. How can content be used between different internal departments and even brands?
The people focus
Roles and workflow: Managing how people manage and maintain content on a daily basis, including the roles, tasks and internal communication tools required throughout the content lifecycle.
Policies and standards: governance of content is important; this includes policies, standards, and guidelines that apply to content and its lifespan. Creating the strategy is one thing but maintaining it and growing is another thing. This needs to be included in the part of the work. When is the work supposed to be reviewed, how and so on.
One of the things I keep being asked about, is revolving the content lifespan, to me this is a crucial question. We keep producing great content, some of it is sustainable and some of is not. This needs to be mapped out during the strategy creation. For me lifespan translates to two things it’s the time it takes to create the content, this includes the research phase, then strategy, planning, creating it and distributing.
The other meaning of it is actually the actual lifespan of the content, how long time does it have until it becomes obsolete? This is another crucial question as we tend forget that content can be reused, not only between media but also on the same media. This helps maintaining cost and creates a cross “department” understanding of what is happening within the organization implementing the strategy.
Here are couple of best practice tips.
- Make sure the content strategy reflects the bottom line
- Make sure you go through the POST
- Make sure you research and clear KPI’s for your efforts
- Make sure that all content created falls under the content strategy
- It’s not only about Facebook, it’s about all content that is a part of the communications
- This can be framed around certain type of communication such as “marketing only”
- Make sure that content is shared internally and that it stays consistent
- There are so many tools that can be used: Basecamp, Google Drive, Facebook at Work and more
- Make sure that the impact of your work is measured
- Make sure that the content strategy has in mind internal and external stakeholders
- Get as many internal stakeholders on board as you can before you finalize
- Assign roles and responsibilities (find a champion)
- Make sure that are policies and standards in place (Governance)
Companies often forget to look within before they start creating their content strategy, in many cases many elements of what is needed to make a successful content strategy is already in place, it just needs to be reorganized and given ownership.
… and have in mind that external storytelling is worthless unless everyone tells & believes in the same story internally.
Wikipedia is a great resource on this, make sure you check this link