Content strategy. What do you understand when you hear those words?
Do they fill you with dread? Does your heart race? Do your palms feel sticky? Social media and content planning has this affect on people and I know how to fix it I'm about to give you a proven system and content planning roadmap to follow and soon everything you need to post across social media will be laid out in a simple to implement action plan that gets results.
Sound good? Great!
Read on and I'll guide through each step...
Why You Need This
No matter where you are on your business journey, a content strategy will help you decide what to post and when. Not only that. It will help you create content you can publish across all your digital channels e.g. blog, web pages, podcast, You Tube.
Key Content Planning Principles
- Your Content Plan should always align to your sales, promotional and brand plans.
- It will be driven by your business objectives thereby making it a strategic roadmap.
- The content you produce needs to be relevant, valuable, and helpful to attract new audiences and prospects - no matter what business you're in.
- It will feed your social media plan.
The Content Planning Roadmap
The first decision to make is, what are your planning cycles?
Many businesses plan on a quarterly basis. How far in advance you plan is your decision. I choose to plan on a quarterly basis because:
- it's manageable
- it aligns with the seasons and people's behaviours in general
Once you've decided your planning cycles. you can start working through the Content Planning Roadmap.
For each section of the content plan roadmap that you're about to follow. you'll be guided through in simple stapes in terms of:
- action needed
- decisions to be made
- resources needed
If you follow and complete all the steps, you'll feel more confident about social media and digital marketing, plus I'm sure, you'll see a marked difference in results.
Step 1 - Identifying Your Goals
The first step in the Roadmap is identifying your business goals and objectives. Once you know your high level objectives (usually sales and profit driven), you want to identify some marketing goals and objectives.
"What do you want your social media and marketing plan to deliver for you in the next quarter? "
- Is it to increase blog traffic by 30%, capture at least 10 more
- Is it to grow your facebook audience?
- Is it to get 40 new sales leads per month?
- Is it to sell 1000 more widgets per month?
Whatever business you're in, you need to nail this. It will keep you laser focussed and help you create meaningful content.
When you're writing your goals - make them SMART and turn them into OBJECTIVES.
Objectives help you measure your goal, because they're SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC AND TIME BASED.
- Watch the video above and write down sales, profit and marketing goals for the next quarter. These will help you measure the effectiveness of your plan later.
Step 2 - Collect Your Customer Insights
Next you need to spend some time (a few hours) gathering information about your audience and customers. We call this customer insight data.
This will help you to get into the mind of your ideal customer, so you can talk directly to them and build a relationship between them and your brand.
This is such an enlightening part of the process and one my members over at The Social Media Circle find the most surprising and valuable.
It means they are not second guessing when they come to post. They begin to tap into audience and buyer motivations.
Why is this so important? It will help create deeper connections.
- what will your ideal clients / avatar be thinking, feeling doing, worrying about during that period?
- what are their hopes?
- what do they want to achieve?
- Watch the video - Step 2 above.
- Write down your audience and customer insights somewhere. You'll be coming back to these on several occasions so keep them handy.
Step 3 - Collect External Insights
In step 3 you want to collect the external insights. In other words write down everything that's going on in the world that will impact on your customers and audiences' thoughts and feelings.
Us marketers call this a P.E.S.T. ANALYSIS because we can conduct a review using the following headings which makes it really easy to action as well as understand:
- Environmental / Economical
As an example. we know that packaging and waste is a massive environmental and social issue right now. So consider how these factors will affect both your business but also your audience.
By knowing this, you can start to flesh out the opportunities in your content plan, which we'l come to in a few more steps.
- Watch the video - Step 3 above.
- Write down your external insights somewhere. Again, you'll be coming back to these on several occasions so keep them handy.
Step 4 - Deciding Your Format & Frequency
In this step it's time to decide what type of format you want to create and post. So we're talking blog posts, You Tube videos, recipes, video recipes, podcasts, and newsletters etc.
What you choose depends on:
- what you think your audience will prefer to consume
- what skills and capabilities you have/ need, in order to create that format
- how much time you have
There is no right or wrong, but you might benefit from taking a peek at your competitors and looking to see what type of content gets them great engagement.
- Watch the video - Step 4 above.
- Make a note - written is better than mental, what content you can produce and how much per week. Remember you or someone has to deliver the plan, so best to make it achievable.
Step 5 - Deciding Your Key Performance Indicators
In Step 5 you're ready to decide your strategic KPIs - in other words, how will you measure the success of your strategy? How do you know that your content is working and delivering against your objectives and goals we discussed in Step 1?
So what measurements can you use to measure success?
Effectively there are two performance metrics:-
- Higher level - strategic KPIs
- Lower level - content KPIs
Strategic Level - if one of your objectives for the quarter is to increase sales, then your sales revenue is your measurement
Lower Level - say you are producing videos. You will want to measure views, likes and engagement. Knowing this performance data will help you produce future content.
☛ your objective is to grow sales then your sales revenue is your measurement
☛ if you want to grow your email list, then you will look at your email contacts.
☛ If it’s followers or engagement you need to look at your social media platform analytics.
☛ if your objective is to increase web traffic Google Analytics will be a great measurement
Many people don’t write these targets and measures down. However, getting clear on your measures of success and making a note of them means you can track your progress weekly, or monthly. If you find you are not moving the dial on performance, then you can of course, tweak your game-plan, and try some different content ideas. Remember marketing is all about testing.
- Decide how you’re going to measure the success of your chosen formats and business objectives.
Step 6 - Scoping Out Your Content Ideas
Now you're ready to add meat to the bones. We’ve got to the exciting bit where you’ll want to begin scoping out your content ideas. So what are you going to talk about each week?
Effectively you're ready to brainstorm Content Ideas and the way I like to begin is to scope out my Content Pillars and Themes.
So where do you start?
This is where you need to grab your research that you conducted.
Your themes are your overarching messages and they’re driven by your insights - both your customer and external insights that you worked on in Steps 2 and 3.
Let’s say you’re a food brand focussing on driving engagement over the next 3 months and you are planning the period between October and Christmas. Some of the insights you might have gathered are that its Halloween during October; a key party time for families and adults.
During October - Halloween and party planning might be one of your content pillars and themes. Some of the content you might choose to create are party food ideas, recipes, dress up ideas, co-promotions with local fancy dress businesses, party planners, pumpkin carving, fancy dress, food best buys and Halloween Decorations ideas. Notice how I’m not just focussing on food right?
By offering the complete solution, my audience is going to love me for it, because I'm removing the thinking for them.
I could create something similar for Bonfire Night (an annual UK event) and then Christmas.
So you see we’ve moved away from desperate sales tactics such as Save 30%, or "come visit my store TODAY!" to becoming a friendly information provider.
If you want to drive engagement, as per the example above, consider ways you can bring your audience into the conversation such as asking them to post photos of their fancy dress evening to get entered into a free prize drawer. Or, here's another idea - ask questions like - what’s your favourite Halloween cocktail, or dish served cold?
- Consider the time period you're planning for.
- Note the customer and external insights e.g. what’s on your audience’s mind right now? What season are planning for?
- Write down as many theme ideas you can during that period.
- Write down your content ideas underneath each theme.
- Next start to translate that information into a plan based on the format you decided in Step 4.
Step 7 - Creating Your Content Calendar
In this Step, it's time to take your content ideas and schedule them into a calendar and your social media scheduler.
In the last lesson you began brainstorming ideas and themes. Once you have your list you need to put these themes into a calendar.
By putting your content themes into a calendar you can see at a glance how your activities align with external activities such as public and national holidays. This is exactly how I built the marketing plan I was responsible for at a multiple retailer in the UK.
I use a google calendar for this and a spreadsheet. I know my customer and seasonal themes.
Once you have your themes, bring in your brand activity - so depending on your business, this will include, product launches, promotions, giveaways, events. awards and other new news. Then drop in the content ideas you developed in the last lesson - step 6.
Now your marketing and content calendar is starting to take shape.
Create An Action Plan
The next thing to do is for each activity create an action plan - so what needs to happen to communicate this activity on social media?
Once you have your action plan it’s time to schedule the social media content and guess what - your social media content is how you communicate all those calendar activities,
You will have, what I call, tactical social media content that’s aligned with your branded activity.
So let’s say, you’re launching a new product for Valentines Day. Some of the tactical social media activity might include valentines or quotes about love, being nice to others, it might even include a social giveaway. This is engagement content. (I go deeper into this inside the Social Media Profit Funnel™ course in the Social Media Circle).
So you see how it all filters down from your key themes and headlines?
Effectively what you’ve started to build is a marketing plan.
By approaching social media in this way it becomes more strategic and aligned with helping you achieve your business objectives.
- Watch the video above.
- Build your content calendar.
- .Lift content from your calendar and put it into a social media plan and / or your scheduler.
Step 8 - The Review
In this final (but by no means least) step, you want to review the businesses overall performance.
I'm going to suggest that its not just how your social media posts are performing in terms of attracting new followers and engagement, but how this is impacting on your overall business performance.
- Are you achieving your objectives? If not what need to be changed immediately / next time?
- What went well?
- What opportunities came up?
I recommend you review your social media and marketing activities a few weeks to a month after they’ve been implemented. You’ll also be reviewing performance during the quarter, to see where they can be optimised (improved) particularly if you are investing in paid ads.
- Each week, log into your social media and Google Analytics and note any interesting insights and activity.
- After each quarter, conduct a full review and note recommends for the same quarter the following year.
So whether you are creating your own content plan or you hire an agency to do it for you, be sure to follow this Roadmap to increase success.