We’re on a roll with resolutions! This go’round, we’re getting some content tips to arm you for 2016 and beyond from Tier One friend and colleague, content strategist Jude Stewart.
In addition to working with Tier One, Jude has written for Slate and Fast Company, among others. She eats, sleeps, and breathes content and has some great tips to get your content into gear this year:
It’s 2016. Social media is a decade old – and going strong, even as it constantly reshapes itself. Content marketing is no longer newfangled; it’s standard-issue, even mandatory. Mobile and video content are moving from the fringes to center-stage.
Is this the year you’ll get your content strategy truly in order?
We know: it’s tough. Many companies are checking one or several content boxes already, but content is often a scattershot effort, more a function of what’s feasible operationally than what’s smart strategically.
If you make ONE New Year’s resolution this year, it should be this: define your content strategy. Step back a little. Ask yourself, why are you making content at all? How does content tangibly help your business goals? Your answers should be better defined than just “checking the box.” And they probably will be, surprisingly enough. Companies often find their content strategy is implicit in what they’re actually doing. If anything, a good content strategy clarifies by taking ill-defined projects off the table – so you double down on the stuff that truly matters.
Here are five simple tips that can help you put your content strategy into sharper focus in 2016.
1. Make an editorial calendar already.
An editorial calendar should be your BFF. It helps you define your focus topics, pushes you to define specific headlines under each topic, and keeps your team aligned on specific deadlines.
Make your calendar in Google Drive and share it with everyone involved; ping them at appropriate moments to keep the trains moving. Use team meetings to highlight what’s due when.
You don’t have to plan the entire year in advance, either. Do a rolling two-month calendar (this month / next month) or bite off an entire quarter. That way your content maps to the active timeframe in everyone’s heads.
Finally, include a “future ideas” tab in your spreadsheet. Jot down random ideas from email and other conversations. That gives you a brimming well of ideas for when you’re running low.
2. Repurpose like crazy.
Think of your blog as a wheel with many spokes radiating out. The center are your blog topics, and the spokes are all ways you can reimagine those topics for different content channels.
Once you’ve mapped out your blog topics a quarter in advance, go back over that list and re-imagine them in different formats. Which topics lend themselves to a visual treatment, like an infographic? A blog series can easily become a video-interview series, too. A speaker presentation can be reworked into multiple formats, from white-papers to blog topics to ebooks. Your best blog topics should lend themselves naturally to another content format that’s smart for your goals.
Why do content in multiple channels? Simply put, because your readers consume content in different formats. Some will subscribe to your email newsletter; others will only follow your tweets; others are suckers for video. Get to know which channels your customers prefer for which purposes, so you can focus on the right channels for you.
3. Work in tandem with other departments.
Content intersects with PR and marketing – but also with sales, customer support, engineering, and many other areas of your company. Think of your content strategy as a clearinghouse of ideas. It should be sourced from many experts inside your company, and then shared freely across teams working in the front-lines of communications: your usual suspects in PR, marcomm, and advertising.
Increasingly PR and content go hand-in-hand. Both disciplines at Tier One collaborate to develop and place contributed bylines at top publications like USA Today, Yahoo Finance, Fortune and many others. The PR folks have the media contacts and nose-for-news; content developers produce the great ideas for them to place.
4. Use content as a calling card to influencers.
Are you dying to get a company mention in a popular industry blog? One easy way to connect with influencers is guest blogging – yet too few companies try it. It’s pretty simple: approach the influencer with a tempting blog topic, something of mutual interest and benefits to their readers and yours. Q&As between two experts are usually great for this. Then post the results to your blog.
Nine times out of ten, the influencer will re-post your item to their own readers (or at least tweet out your link). Bingo! You’re now friendlier with an important influencer, and you’ve gained valuable exposure to new prospects.
5. Outsource, outsource, outsource.
Making content can be overwhelming – which is why I advise clients to take it incrementally and enlist editorial help. You might be an awesome writer, chock-full of good, newsy ideas – but totally lack the time to see it all through. A content strategist can keep you on-schedule and on-target with your strategic goals.