One of the most important things that you can do as a marketer is to create a great content marketing strategy.
Nowadays, nearly anyone can upload their own content to the internet. In fact, a recent study conducted by Takeo found that there are over 2.5 quintillion bytes uploaded every day. You read correctly 一 quintillion, or 10 raised to the power of 18!
Of course, not all of that data will be competing for the same audience that you are (rest assured that your content won’t be competing against cute dog videos or babies biting fingers 一 then you may be in trouble), but even so, it’s hard not to have your work swallowed up in the black hole that is the internet.
Having a digital marketing goal for your company in mind means that you have to be smarter about when and how you place your content. Let’s talk about what a strategy template is, and how you can use it to give your marketing campaign a better chance of being seen.
Why You Need a Content Strategy
First off, what is a content strategy?
It’s best to think of a content strategy as a roadmap that can guide you to your business goals. However, the main tool that you’re using to get there is the content that you’ve produced. This means that you have to produce quality content that will invite others to engage with you, and more importantly, stick around.
The Importance of a Content Strategy Template
Once you’ve committed to creating a content strategy, it’s time to start creating a template to put your plan into action.
There are three key elements that a content strategy template needs to address: what your current content looks like, what it should look like, and the content’s ecosystem. When you take your content marketing campaign to a group that can help you implement it, these are often the first few aspects that need to be discussed.
- What your existing content looks like. This element is quite straightforward 一 look at the content that you’ve already produced and analyze how successful it is. If your website content is a blog post a week and additional video content on your social media platforms, that’s great! You know what works for you and your brand, and you can use that to your advantage as you move forward.
- What it should look like. Try to imagine what you want your content to look like. Do you often look at competitor sites and think, “Wow, I wish we could do something like that!” Well, what’s stopping you? As you’re putting together a content strategy template, try to guide your content towards that eventual goal so you start making that a reality.
- Content ecosystem. Since you’ve already been putting out your own content assets in the past 一 whether as an online post or even at your physical storefront 一 you’ve already established a brand voice for the company whether you like it or not. Your brand voice and guidelines will dictate how your brand interacts with its customers. Now is the time to consider if you want to change that entirely, or if you want to continue moving in that direction. For example, if your audience interaction on Instagram is usually very formal but you’re trying to appeal to a younger audience, it may make more sense to switch that up. Post some memes. Engage with your fans. Your content ecosystem is one that you create, and it’s up to you to direct it.
While a content strategy template is exactly that 一 a rough template that businesses can use to guide a campaign in a general direction 一 each campaign needs to be assessed on a case-to-case basis to see which type of content plan works best for you.
How To Build a Content Strategy Template, Step-by-Step
As you start building your content strategy framework, it’s good to know that you don’t always have to start entirely from scratch. Some companies (hint, hint Brafton), are well versed in what it takes to put together a fantastic content marketing strategy, which can help aid you in achieving your business goals. Together with a great content marketing firm, you’ll be accessing years of digital marketing expertise and knowledge about what marketing tactics work, and what types of content could probably be better suited for another campaign altogether.
We’ve already put together a few content strategy templates on our site: one of which you can download by clicking here. However, if you want to go the extra mile and create your own, follow these steps to help you get started.
Let’s first use an example to see how a content strategy works.
Let’s say that your company is promoting an album for the latest teenage heartthrob boy band, NotARealBand. Your goal is to boost the NotARealBand’s mentions on social media to hopefully drive online streaming numbers up. Instead of throwing content around randomly in hopes that more people will be interested in them, you should first plan out a content strategy.
You need to know a couple of basics before you start planning. It’s important to start by following these steps:
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1. Define Your Mission Statement
How can you really start your campaign without first defining your content goal? Be as clear and direct as possible about what you’re hoping to achieve so you’ll always have it in mind.
NotARealBand is counting on you!
2. Conduct a SWOT Analysis
Despite its intimidating name, conducting a SWOT analysis can be a powerful tool for your content marketing campaign. SWOT stands for:
S: Strengths. These are your brand’s competitive advantages that make it stand out from every other brand out there. What does your company do well, and what’s the first thing that people think of when they hear your company’s name?
W: Weaknesses. Where does your company fall short? Perhaps your competitors are offering cheaper services, or your company is slow to adapt to new technologies. Pinpoint these weaknesses so you can continually work on them.
O: Opportunities. Identify opportunities that can aid in your content marketing plan’s goals. For instance, if you currently know that your audience is spending a lot of their time on Instagram, moving your operations there may help you appeal to them directly.
T: Threats. Maybe there’s an outside factor that is stopping your brand from being able to grow at a faster rate. Slow sales quarter? A raging pandemic? There could be a variety of different factors that could be hindering your growth.
3. Ask Yourself the Following Questions:
Who Is Your Target Audience?
Audience is key. You could be producing the best, most professional content in the world, but if your target audience doesn’t react to it, you’ll have wasted your money. Cater to the types of people that you are trying to engage with, and make sure that your marketing voice meets them on their level.
For NotARealBand, their target demographic is probably 16-25 year olds who love swooning harmonies, boyish good looks and suave charm. Be sure to always keep your audience in mind as you’re planning out content strategy.
What Is Your Business Goal?
Never lose sight of what your goal is. We’ve already established that your goal is to boost social media mentions for NotARealBand 一 this means that everything else to follow is secondary to the main goal. NotARealBand may get hundreds of more followers after your marketing campaign, but if their social media mentions stay the same, you haven’t really fulfilled your campaign promises.
Which Channels Will You Be Publishing On?
In some cases, knowing which media channels you will be publishing on is a simple task. If you’re already well established on a place like Instagram or Twitter, it’s best to keep posting there. However, if you’re just starting out, look at the demographics of your target audience (there’s that tip about the audience again!) and see where they’ll likely spend their time.
Where you publish your content will also determine the type of content that you should be producing. For well-produced photos and visual content, Instagram will probably be best. If you want to create more short impromptu, off-the-cuff videos, TikTok could be the platform for you. Want to interact with your audience and quickly answer fan questions? Twitter can serve your needs.
This is why you need to determine these things first before immediately jumping into content creation. If your content strategy says that you need to post on TikTok but you’ve already started shooting professional videos for Instagram, that might mean a lot of wasted money and a lot of wasted effort.
Who Is Going To Be Creating the Content?
When it comes to content creation, it’s important to know exactly who is going to be creating the content. Will it be yourself, or will you be outsourcing the creation to a content team? If you’re making videos in our example, will NotARealBand create the content?
Knowing this ahead of time can help ease a lot of scheduling conflicts as well as make clear what exactly needs to be done and when.
When Is the Campaign Going To Happen?
Of course, none of the answers to these questions really matter if you don’t know when exactly the campaign is going to be implemented. You can be planning all day, every day, but if you don’t have an actionable timeline for NotARealBand’s campaign, all of that content planning will be for naught.
To help organize yourself, sometimes it’s great to use a content calendar, editorial calendar, or a social media scheduler in order to keep yourself on track. These tools can keep your campaign organized and provide a great way to visualize everything that you’re producing.
Once you’ve asked yourself all of these questions, you’ll be set to start putting together a content strategy template.
You’re well on your way to getting NotARealBand the social media mentions that they deserve!