How to Create a Content Strategy
When we look at social media profiles of the influencers we love and trust, it’s easy to forget that a LOT of thought and planning goes into every post they release.
I for one can hold my hands up and admit that I have been guilty of turning on Instagram, taking a random photo and posting it there and then (doh)… Ok, so technically, there isn’t anything wrong with this, but if you want to build a solid audience and authority for your brand, it is important that you take a step back and reassess what it is that you are trying to achieve.
It’s all in the planning
If we take the example of YouTube, over the years, we have seen a number of individuals take this platform by storm. If you are a fan of videography, gadgets and technology, it is very likely that you will have stumbled across Peter McKinnon, Marques Brownlee and Casey Neistat. The videos these individuals produce have amassed millions of views, followers and comments whilst also unlocking employment opportunities that may not have been possible before they took to YouTube.
Is all the attention they receive a matter of luck? Hell no… Through trial and error, they have created a unique formula that works solely for their business. This formula is called a ‘content strategy’
Started at the bottom now I’m here
Over the years, my personal brand has manifested itself as a number of things as I chased the dream of gaining thousands of followers on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. I’ve tried a guitar blog, a fitness blog, a vlog with no particular theme and a social media vlog which has become what is now alexMEDIA.
Although alexMEDIA has yet to set the world alight, it is a lot more considered than any of my previous efforts. Instead of chasing followers and likes, I decided it was time to focus on creating content that helps individuals become the best possible social media consultant.
Building a following on social media is not easy. Whether you are a local cafe, a tech start-up or a musician, gaining attention is a full-time challenge. This is where the first problem comes to the surface. A lot of people simply don’t have the time or patience to figure out what really works for their brand or business on social media. This is partly due to the fact they spend the majority of their time doing the thing that they love doing — and rightly so. There is a simple formula for social media success and it involves content creation and audience engagement. Both need to be done consistently in a way that helps others learn. Implementing this correctly will help you get discovered and build the audience of your dreams. Getting this right, however, is not so simple.
If you are determined to gain the attention of your desired audience, you will need a content strategy.
What is a content strategy?
A content strategy is a plan that maps out the exact purpose of the content you produce. EVERYTHING you publish on social media can be considered content. By detailing exactly what you are going to create and how it is going to benefit others, you will be able to determine what needs to be created to get the job done.
Every piece of content you create MUST have a well-defined purpose. Where we are right now, posting random images (unless it’s the same image every day — add link) just isn’t going to cut it.
To nail your content strategy, it is important to identify:
- Who the content is intended for
- Content themes
- How your content will give value and solve problems
- Why people should listen to you
- The content format you will adopt (blog, video, podcast)
- The channels you will post on
If you are serious about making a difference, it is time to write down exactly who you want to target and brainstorm some content themes to help you gain their attention. To get others to take notice of your social media profiles, you need to prove why you are unique and why you deserve their precious seconds.
Take a look at your favourite Instagram profiles. Notice that they only post certain types of content. To build an engaged audience, it is important to identify a niche and use content themes to build awareness. Let’s get into this with an example.
Example A: If you follow a coffee connoisseur on Instagram, you can expect to see amazing photos of coffee on their profile. The reason you go back to the profile time and time again is because you…
a) love coffee and
b) know that this profile only posts the best images of coffee.
If the profile owner in question started to throw in random images of their car, surfing trips and football memorabilia, it is highly likely that their Instagram grid would lose its theme consistency and the new posts would alienate their audience as this is not what people follow the account for.
Identifying themes and consistently posting content that fits within these themes is the key to social media success.
Content is King
I assume we’ve all heard the phrase ‘Content is KING’ right? Well if you haven’t this phrase was coined by non-other than Bill Gates way back in 1996. In an essay titled ‘Content is King’ Mr Gates wrote…
“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting…”
He wasn’t wrong.
The rise of mobile technology has led to an explosion of content. Anybody with access to the internet has the opportunity to post videos, images and their opinions in a matter of seconds. As a result, there is a lot of noise and bad quality content out there. If you want to be heard, it is important that you create a plan and stick to it. Use your content to tell your brand story and always aim to offer value. It is important to remember that it isn’t about you. Aim to create blogs and videos (or whatever you decided to create) that offer value and help others in one way or another.
The content you create and deliver is your opportunity to grab attention. With the abundance of content that is thrown at us each day, there is no wonder that the average attention span is on the decline. Take pride in the content you produce and plan how you will deliver it.
Take a moment to consider what types of content would be most relevant for your business. Just because YouTube videos delivers for others, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the best content type for you. If you like to write, try blogging or writing articles on Medium and LinkedIn. Focus on creating content you enjoy as you will be the one spending time doing this over and over again.
It all starts with a business plan
If your goal is to use social media to grow your business or brand, you will need a business plan. The sole purpose of a business plan is to identify what you want to achieve. Before creating any content, it is important to understand why you are creating content and how your content can make a difference. Take a moment to document your goals and you will find the content strategy process a lot easier.
To give you an idea, as a social media consultant, my goal is to help other social media consultants win more clients. I do this by creating blogs and vlogs that teach the principles of social media marketing.
Have a go at writing down your goals and setting a mission statement for your business.
Know your audience
One of the most important elements of a content strategy is audience targeting. Targeting everyone definitely isn’t the way to go if you want to build an engaged audience. The more experienced you become at reading data and analysing trends, the better your targeting will become. For now, focus on identifying accounts and hashtags that resonate with your brand. Write them down and start interacting with them on a daily basis. This will help you understand what type of content would be useful. This will help you gain authority in your niche.
It’s time to go back to school
If your excuse for not producing content is you don’t know how to, now is the time is to pick up a new hobby. With the abundance of FREE top-quality content available at a click of a button, there is no reason why you cannot learn how to make content that resonates with your audience.
If you are keen to make vlogs, buy a basic or even better, a used DSLR camera and learn how to create and edit videos. All Mac computers come with iMovie which is a great tool to begin your video editing adventure. If you don’t have access to a Mac or a DSLR camera, use your mobile phone. The app InShot is great for mobile video and photo editing.
If your goal is to become a social media marketer, knowing how to make basic videos and take photos will help you progress and win the clients you want to work with. Dedicate yourself to be the best social media marketer and level up to give your content the best chance to cut through the noise.
If you’d rather concentrate on other areas of social media marketing, reach out to your personal network and see if there is anyone who can help you create the content you need to develop a bulletproof content strategy.
Finally, be sure to let others know exactly what you want to achieve. You will be surprised what your close friends, family and colleagues can offer.
Managing and tracking your content
Planning ahead of time is key building a presence on social media. For alexMEDIA, I plan all of my content at least a month ahead of time. I do this by using an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar outlines:
- The type of content
- Content themes
- Content completion date
- Post date and time
Using an editorial calendar will help you create an outline of when content will be released. To help you deliver great content consistently, download my Editorial Content Calendar and plan out the remainder of the month. Using this calendar will help stop you from posting poor quality content at random times. Think about the themes you’ve established and start creating content that works.
Over to you
If you are having difficulties creating GREAT content, just think why you are creating content and how it will benefit others. Always put your audience first and remember, ‘IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU’
Develop your content strategy by practising the tips mentioned above. Remember to also try out the editorial calendar and plan out your ideas. These simple tips will make a huge difference to your social media efforts and help you build an engaged audience. Whatever you do, remember, building an audience takes time. Above all, be patient and persistent with your content and you will achieve your business goals!
If this article has been useful, I would appreciate if you leave a comment below and share how it has helped you progress as a social media marketer.
Now it’s over to you. Get out there and join me in this crazy world that is social media marketing.
Until next time… STOP BEING BUSY and go make it happen!
Originally published at alexmedia.info on October 16, 2018.