Now that you know how to find your target audience and how to find content topic ideas that appeal to that audience, your next step is to create a content plan of action for your business. Without a stable content plan, you may find that all of the enthusiasm you have thrown into the idea of content marketing will soon be lost along the way when business picks up or other things change.
Areas of Content to Plan
So what areas of content do you need to strategically plan? I would say getting all of them organized would be key, but here are the most important ones that you need to define as far as who is in charge, what needs to be created, and when it needs to be created.
Your blog content can sometimes prove to be the most challenging to organize, especially if you are looking at having multiple writers. Writers can include you, your employees, guest bloggers, and freelance writers. With the right team in place, your blog can become a well-known expert resource in your industry.
Creating a plan for your blog isn’t as scary as it sounds. It just involves answering the following questions (and document those answers).
- What are the goals for the blog? Do you want your blog to be a hub for expert information in your industry? Do you want each post to drive conversions towards your products or services? Do you just want keyword-optimized content to drive more traffic to your website from search? Answering these questions will help determine content topics, who should be writing, how long your content should be, and other important blog details.
- Who will be the main manager / editor for your blog? Having one person oversee things will help ensure that posts are being edited and published on time and that comments are being answered in a timely manner.
- Who will the writers be? If you’re depending on employees, it’s good to get them together to talk about the main goals of the blog and help them make time to start doing blog posts – especially if they have always worked on revenue generating projects. If you’re depending on freelancers, you will need to find a way to establish your blogging goals and content ideas with them as well as a way to organize due dates outside of internal programs like Microsoft Outlook.
- What editorial guidelines do you want to enforce? Setting up an editorial guide that includes the goals of each post, standard post length, voice, formatting rules, and other specifics will help all of your writers on the same course when it comes to writing their posts.
- How often will you publish new content? How often you should publish a new post to your blog really depends on a couple of factors including how often similar businesses in your industry publish (aka, how often does your target audience expect you to publish) and how often your team of writers can come up with new content. One thing you don’t want is to sacrifice quality for quantity – it’s better to publish one amazing post every week than five drab posts. Once you do decide on a posting schedule, be sure that your writers are notified in advance of when their posts are due that you have an easy to access editorial calendar for them to refer to.
- How will you promote your content? You can’t expect people to come to your content if you don’t share it with them. Be sure to create a specific blog post promotion strategy that includes sharing on your social networks, notifying employees so they can share it on their social profiles, sending the latest post in your mailing list, and submitting it to social bookmarking networks as applicable. We’ll discuss content promotion more in-depth in a future post.
- How will you measure the success of your blog content? It’s good to plan a routine check in with your Google Analytics and other tools to ensure that your current blog content plan is achieving the goals you have set for your blog.
Social Media Content
Next on the list of highly important content that you must create is content for your social media accounts. While social media updates are short, they are still vital to the overall engagement of your brand. Hence, you will want to figure out the following to draft your social media content plan.
- Who will be in charge of your social media? Will you as the business owner manage your Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ updates? Will you have a specific employee or a team manage them? Or will you hire a social media consultant? No matter who you choose, you will need to make sure that this person is fully aware of things going on with the company including new sales promotions, products, blog content, and any possible problem areas so they know what to talk about (or not talk about) on your social profiles. Also, make sure that the people in charge know how to handle any direct questions that might appear on a social network.
- What is your social media policy? Just like your blog needs editorial guidelines, your social media should have guidelines for those managing it. This includes what topics should or should not be discussed, whether you should be connecting with competitors, how to handle a crisis on social media if one should arise, and so forth.
- How often will you post status updates? Depending on your industry, the size of your business, and the network you are working with, the number of updates you need to post vary. Some companies will post several times to Twitter and only once a day to Facebook.
- How will you post updates? There are several ways to post status updates. You can have someone who updates regularly each business day. You can have your updates pre-planned a week or even a month in advance and scheduled through HootSuite or another social media management tool. With either approach, it is still necessary to have someone checking mentions, wall posts, and other social comments regularly to respond in a timely manner.
- How often and under what circumstances will you use social advertising? You can use different advertising options on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to promote status updates, your company profile or page, and just about anything else related to your brand. Let those in charge of your social media know what types of promotions you want to push through CPC or CPM advertising to boost visibility for your business.
Press Releases, Video, and More
If you want to keep up any other particular content campaigns, such as press releases, podcasts, whitepapers, case studies or video, be sure to create a content plan for each of those as well following similar guidelines as above. Who will be in charge and create the content, how often will you publish, and how will you promote are important questions for any type of content plan.
Curious how others plan their content? Try searching Google for “content plan” filetype:pdf – you can see real content plans made by real businesses. Edit these to include searches for editorial guidelines, social media policies, and other document types (pdf, xls, doc, docx) on content strategy.
Different Ways to Handle the Editorial Calendars
One thing that all of the above plans could use is an editorial calendar. This is simply a place where anyone can look to see the schedule of posting, topics / themes per day, and who is assigned the project. There are several ways you can create an editorial calendar that everyone can use – here are two that I have seen used successfully.
- Microsoft Outlook – If everyone in the content creation process is in your office or has access to your network, then Outlook can be a great tool to use as most will already be used to it. You can use it to share calendars, assign tasks, and create reminders so the person assigned will always know when their content is due.
- Google Calendar – If you are working with people in-house as well as freelancers or consultants that you may not want on your Exchange server, Google Calendar can be a great, free alternative. Combined with Google Docs, it can be a great way to manage dates, set reminders, and share content throughout the process.
- Editorial Calendar Plugin for WordPress – If you just need an editorial calendar for your WordPress blog, you can try this plugin. It will allow you to see posts that are scheduled in calendar view, drag and drop them, and manage posts from multiple authors..
Now it’s your turn. Do you have a plan for your content strategy? What other things do you plan out to make sure that your content marketing is a success?