Crafting a Solid Content Marketing Plan

Advertising was a simpler thing before the advent of the Internet. Now, your messages compete with millions of social media updates. So how can you win the "battle for attention" in a world increasingly fragmented by social media networks? Through content marketing. Here are some tips on crafting a plan.

Content Marketing Isn't Always Writing

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Don't worry if you're not the literary type. Content can come from numerous places, including: 

  • Created: Content you create yourself. 
  • Curated: Content culled from the internet into list form. 
  • Legacy: Content pulled from your archives and repurposed. 
  • Co-created: Content you pull from your social media audience in "real time."

Getting Started

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To develop a content strategy, start with a blank sheet of paper, divided into four quadrants. Label them: Objectives, Assets, Channels, and Opportunities. 

In each of the areas answer these questions: 

  • Objectives: What do you want to accomplish with your content strategy? It could be sales, awareness, shares, among other things. 
  • Asset: What types of content do you already have? This could be photographs you've posted on Facebook or blog posts on your website. 
  • Channels: Where can you post content? This can be your website, your social media channels, and even your email newsletter. 
  • Opportunities: In which areas would you like to expand your content?

Creating Content

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Photos are a quick low-hanging fruit in the content world.

If you are a coffee roaster or a small toy manufacturer, consider taking photographs of how the process comes together. Do you or members of your staff have interesting stories to tell? Be sure to tell them about using social media. If you participate in "giving back," whether through donating a portion of your sales to charity or sponsoring the local Little League team, be sure to leverage that story in your social media holdings.

Create a "wishlist" -- content you would like to create and code it according to its difficulty. For example, it's easier to write a quick personal message than to create a video.

Curating Content

Curating content is pulling together lists of photos, videos or ideas that align with your brand mission. 

For instance, a company called Barkbox (which sells gift boxes of goodies for dogs) scours the web for cute pictures of dogs to put on their blog, newsletter, and Facebook and Twitter pages. It's an easy way to source content that excites people.

Getting Ideas from Google

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Knowing how to use Google search as a tool in your content strategy is essential. The first rule of SEO success isn't the easiest or quickest, but it is the most effective: strive to write high-quality content in a well-defined niche. 

The second rule of SEO is to make sure you are using good keywords. How do you decide what a good keyword is, well, you start with gut instincts, but you research your instincts. A great tool to start with is Google Trends.

Real-time Marketing

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The concept of "real-time marketing" was born in the corporate world by thinkers like Shiv Singh of PepsiCo, who sagely noted:

My real competition is 50 billion status updates.

Point being, traditional advertising, with its long approval processes, is ill-equipped to deal with a pace, volume, and velocity of the social web.

Where big brands like Pepsi and Ford face major organization challenges in harnessing the power of real-time, entrepreneurs are much better situated to be flexible and creative.