Good content is a big, juicy burger you're serving up to your audiences, not some watery alphabet soup with the same sales message week after week. Having a good content strategy is the difference between a juicy burger and watery soup.
It determines what you communicate and how you do it. And when you're doing it right, you're communicating:
- Effectively. You're producing the right content for the right audience.
- Efficiently. The way you organize and produce content reduces redundancy and helps all of your departments and channels to contribute.
- Appropriately. You're using the right tools to communicate with the right people.
A good content strategy is like your secret recipe to connect and engage with your audiences, and it's a critical piece of any digital strategy.
The good news is that you don't have to be the Iron Chef of communications to create a strong content strategy. Whether you're starting from scratch or rejuvenating what's already in place, it never hurts to review the four main pieces that your "recipe" or content strategy should have: message, audiences, delivery, and timing.
The elements of your message are mission, tone, and output. If you ensure that every message fits the criteria you've set for these, you'll be sending the right message every time.
It might seem obvious that the mission behind your message should align with your branding and organizational goals. But brands often create content in a separate silo from the organization as a whole, and the mission isn't communicated. Does everything you write and produce fit your organization's vision and overall goals? Make sure it does.
Another obstacle can be turning a complex mission into content your audiences can understand. One of Carousel30's clients had a very high-level goal: cultivate and catalyze collaborative action among diverse interests to abate the threat to North American forests from non-native insects and diseases. That's not exactly a memorable mission. But once it was translated into a message that was simple, tangible, and actionable -- "Don't move firewood" -- the content represented an accomplishable mission for target audiences.
Tone is how your message comes across. It's the personality and attitude in your writing -- a substantial consideration. Is your audience expecting to hear "good morning" or "hey tweeps?" Establishing a consistent tone will enable all audiences to have a consistent experience with your brand, though a little variation might be needed to resonate with particular audiences. For example, your tone probably needs a little adjustment between a Facebook post to your fans and an email to your stakeholders.
When you set out to create content for your brand, it won't be in just one form. There's the content on your website -- the organizational description, case studies, press releases, team bios, etc. -- and then there are blog posts, social media posts, and other pieces of content unique in subject and purpose. Don't forget to take output into consideration when you're creating a content strategy.
Every organization has several different audiences, and each of them has unique interests and needs. What this means as part of an effective content strategy is that your content should aim to meet the needs of each audience.
If you're not sure how to achieve this, try creating personas. A persona is a hybrid profile of the individuals in an audience. What content would be useful for each persona's interests and age group? What would be the most useful thing for each persona to see on your website?
Of course, as you determine who your audiences are and create personas for each, it's important that you measure them and their interactions with your brand. Say you're an online clothing retailer. Men, women, and teenage girls each navigate your website differently. If you're measuring visits to your website, who's clicking on your emails, who's using coupons, and who's following you on Facebook, you'll be able to better address everyone's content needs.