10 tips for a killer content strategy
By Katie Boyle
The key to a successful communications strategy for any business is knowing who your audience is, identifying what information they are looking for and then developing the right content to reach them on the most appropriate channel. So much of what we communicate today is through social media channels and although the tone tends to be more informal, it is crucial to develop a robust content strategy to make sure you hit the mark. Although we are not a social media agency, content marketing is a large part of what we do as we help to curate valuable content for clients in many forms.
1. Look at your competitors
This goes without saying but it is extremely important! Research is key to curating a compelling online strategy to support all other marketing communications, and a large part of this is looking at the activity of your industry competitors. Analyse if their strategy is strong and ask yourself why this is? Do they stand out by doing something completely against the norm? Is their messaging consistent across all of their channels? Make notes of what you find and also look at how their audiences are responding, not just in top-level engagement e.g. likes; but in their comments too.
2. Look outside of your competitors
Next, look outside of your direct competitors and industry for some inspiration. It can be very easy to have tunnel vision when working within a set industry where an internal bias can inform a lot of content marketing. However, online behaviours are constantly adapting and changing and brands must keep up to try to get ahead of these changes. Have a look at some brands or companies that you follow and note any that you personally like, or that stand out. Then assess their tactics and messaging to gauge whether any aspect of these can be applied to your own strategy. This can also inspire new ideas which are key to a successful long-term strategy.
3. Research hashtags
Use resources such as hashtagify or Sprout Social to gauge the popularity of a hashtag on a global scale. Using popular hashtags can help you to join the conversation online linked to a specific topic and can assist in building awareness of your brand in this space. This research is also useful when you are looking to develop your own unique hashtag to support a specific campaign or project. Where possible, avoid using generic 'meta-hashtags' e.g. #Food, in favour of more specific, targeted alternatives e.g. #IrishFood as this will push your content in front of more relevant audiences.
4. Use Hashtags effectively
Although tempting, do not use the same hashtags in every post! Instead, create a list of 100 hashtags maximum that are relevant to your brand, product or service which you can then pick-and-choose for individual posts. Combining different selections of hashtags can push certain posts towards varying audiences, which is useful in expanding your reach or if you need to reach out to multiple consumer groups. Best practice for this is to refrain from spamming your content with lots of hashtags. On Instagram the hashtag limit is 30 per post, but other platforms would feature far less, so for Twitter we would recommend 2-3 at most, and LinkedIn no more than 5.
5. Always publish quality content
This should go without saying but quality content should always be prioritised over quantity. Remember that your digital activity is part of an overall communications strategy which should be cohesive. Posting uninspiring content will damage your brand, as there will be poor engagement and from an outside perspective it will send a message that you do not know how to communicate with your audiences.
6. Work smartly with your content
Developing content for social media can seem daunting if you are a start-up or have a small team. However, if you work smartly you will find that one piece of conten can be re-purposed into many forms. For example, if you develop a blog post, this can be published on your website but also posted to LinkedIn and chopped up into several shorter social media posts.
7. Understand the channel
Know and understand what type of content is best suited for each channel e.g.
LinkedIn: Longer-form articles, industry insight or E-papers
Instagram: Visually appealing content, E-shopping
Facebook: Mixed-media content, E-shopping, use to target specific audiences
Twitter: Top-line content, interacting with audiences, linking to lengthier pieces i.e. company website, news article
8. Have a content plan
Planning removes the pressure to produce consistently strong content at all times. Developing a content or editorial calendar simply involves scheduling a set number of posts to publish across all of your active social media channels. There are a range of content calendar templates available for free online, which are really useful when starting out. There are also several scheduling softwares available offering both free and paid options, which take the work out of scheduling content such as Buffer, Sprout Social and Hootsuite.
9. But also be spontaneous!
Having a content plan does not mean that there is no room for spontaneity however! The periods between scheduled posts allows for reactive and off-the-cuff content to shine. Bursts of unusual, or one-off occurrences really brighten up a feed, so if you are attending an event or location out of your norm we would advise capturing this to share with your audience.
10. Celebrate your successes!
Did you just win a new tender or sign a contract? Have you a new product or service coming down the line? Are you re-locating or expanding? Are you looking to hire new specialists? Think about your activity and make sure to shout about it to the right audiences. Perhaps there is an event coming up that you will be attending or speaking at - Who might be interested in hearing this? What potential outcomes could come from sharing this news? Sometimes businesses and clients are so wrapped up in their roles that they cannot see opportunities to communicate interesting, timely or newsy items of interest!