First things first. When I say, “beginner’s guide to content strategy,” I’m talking about all the fabulous stuff you create for your blog (or podcast or video), email and social media. Not marketing or sales funnels — although don’t get me wrong, I could go on and on about that too. ツ
This guide to content strategy is intended for novices and anyone who could use a boost of confidence in the “do I know what I’m doing?” department. Although you seasoned folks could use this information to refresh your strategy too. After all, it’s good to check in every once in a while to focus on what’s working and what could use a little TLC, right?
Think before you strategize…
You can’t commit to a plan without having a solid understanding of where you want your strategic plan to take you.
So you need to ask yourself one very important question — what makes your business unique?
Seriously, why is your business special? What is it that makes customers want give you their hard-earned money in exchange for your good or service?
That’s the good stuff — that *why* is going to be the fuel you use to determine your content strategy. It may not seem like a direct correlation yet… but stay with me.
A Beginner’s Guide to Content Strategy
Who are you trying to reach?
The obvious answer is, “everyone interested in purchasing what I have to sell.” But, you need to be more specific.
You can’t cater your content to make everyone happy. For the people pleasers reading this, I’m sorry.
But you *can* cater your content to your ideal customer. Whenever you’re creating stuff to share online, think of that ideal customer — and make it a point to talk directly to her.
Why? What’s your goal?
Basically, you need to ask yourself — “what’s your end game?” Why are you even creating blog content? Why are you spending time building your email list and social channels?
It could be any number of reasons. I recommend choosing one for an extended period of time. In rare cases, it could make sense to choose two.
Is your goal to build brand awareness? Build your email list? Generate leads or sales? Grow your online presence and reputation?
Your goal could be any number of things, and there is no right or wrong answer. It’s whatever is best for your business. If your ultimate goal is to generate revenue, you need a goal that supports that. If increasing revenue isn’t your goal, that’s totally fine. As long as you’re good with putting the time and effort into strategically creating and publishing content to support your goal.
Where will you publish your content?
You don’t have to be everywhere. In fact, you shouldn’t be everywhere. Unless you have a team of professionals dedicated to creating and publishing your content, you need to pick and choose wisely.
There are two things to consider when deciding where to publish — where is your audience and what are you comfortable using? One question is much more important than the other.
You can’t change where your audience is, but you can change your comfort level with a channel. Meaning — yeah, okay, you may absolutely hate everything about Instagram. But if that’s where your audience is and there’s opportunity to achieve your goal by playing in that space, shouldn’t you give it a shot to learn more about IG and what you can do with it?
What type of content will you publish?
Once you’ve decided where you’re going to publish, you need to decide what you’re going to create. If you’ve decided on producing YouTube content, it’s pretty much decided for you — welcome to the wide world of video. If you’re going to focus on podcasts, you have choices — you can publish to a number of podcast platforms, and then repurpose it on your website, on Instagram, etc.
The key is to commit to what you can realistically do. Sure, it’s great to produce static posts, videos, podcasts, stories, etc…. but can you consistently do that for the long haul? Probably not… especially if you need to focus on running your business too.
When will you publish?
It’s really, really easy to get sucked into the mindset that you need to be posting all. the. time. I mean, it feels like your competition is all over all the things at any given time, right? That’s not really the case… but it sure feels that way.
You need to do a little research on where you’ve decided to publish your content. Email? Probably once a week is sufficient — as long as you can manage it. Social media? It depends on the day and even the time.
The content strategy key to deciding when to publish is committing to consistency. You have to create a schedule that’s manageable. If you can’t consistently post to Facebook every day, then don’t commit to doing so in your strategy.
There are several great resources out there to help you nail down the best day and time to publish on different social media platforms. I like to refer to two guides — one from Sprout Social and one from Hootsuite.
How will you publish it?
It may not seem like a big deal but you also need to consider which method(s) you’ll use to publish your content.
Will you use the native tools and post directly to Facebook, Instagram, etc.? Or do you want to have it all in one place, which means using a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer?
There are pros and cons to every method — and we’re not going to get into that here — but ultimately, you should decide how you’re going to publish your content based on comfort level and time spent. If you find you’re spending hours over the course of a month posting content to different channels, it’s worth considering an alternative. Because, after all, time is money.
There’s no one-size-fits-all plan to content strategy. What works for you may not work for Ms. Business Owner down the street. And what works for your business today may not work a year from now. And let’s not even get started on the ever-changing social media scene…
The point is, you’ll always be learning. You might as well learn to get comfortable with learning, so to speak. You don’t have to be an expert — but you do have to be present and willing to play the game.
And who knows, you may even learn to enjoy it. ツ