If your company is just now getting on the corporate blogging train, you’re already falling behind. Blogging is an essential part of developing an online strategy that seamlessly integrates with other digital and traditional marketing efforts. Now, blogs are no longer the only “content” component in a healthy inbound marketing strategy. The scope of “content” is deep and wide, which gives businesses lots of opportunities in developing fresh and unique consumer-driven information. The easy part in participating in this content evolution is idea creation – the hard part is actually producing it. Business 2 Community outlined a seven-step program to building a content machine that will allow your company to create large amounts of content on a regular basis.
Any strategic effort cannot exist without a plan. What you’ll need to do more specifically in the planning stage of developing content is define personas. Who are you developing this content for? What type of consumers are you trying to attract to your website? What information are they looking for that you can provide? This step is really about looking at your strategy from the consumer’s perspective.
You really have to think about developing content like an editor thinks about publishing. The editor alone cannot develop, create, disseminate, track and analyze content. There must be a dedicated team developed to each of these efforts with assigned and clearly defined roles and responsibilities. In this “content machine” situation, those assigned to the tasks cannot be a part of each phase, but the team as a whole needs to understand how each individual section operates so the process can be efficiently and seamlessly refined.
In introducing the steps to building a content machine, it was said that idea creation is the easiest part of this process. That can certainly be the case, but sometimes it might be difficult to get started. Feelings of writer’s block will inevitably arise, but doing a lot of the legwork upfront can help break down the content dam and let the ideas flow. Before diving into the actual production process, take the time to have a very focused brainstorming session with the team to create a bank of ideas, to which you can continue to add. Ideally, this bank should keep your content machine moving for at least six months. Imagining ideas for content can be sparked by keeping a close watch on what your competitors are doing (or not doing that you can take advantage of), answering your consumer’s top 10 questions or taking your own niche spin on what might be happening in your industry.
This is the fun part – seeing your content come to life. Production is also the most critical part in properly executing a content strategy. The saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but we all do it – it’s human nature. If something looks intriguing, we are more willing to spend the extra time delving in a bit further to learn more. Think about how the content will be best received and deliver it that way. Is this content best suited for a blog article? How about a YouTube video or SlideShare presentation? Can we create an infographic? Is it a white paper? Decide what might be most enticing, but make sure the medium is relevant to the content.
5. Audience Development
You don’t want to invest all of this time and effort in developing content and then only be able to share it with a handful of people. Think about how you can expand the range of your audience and how best to engage those users. Popular ways to build a following would be through social sharing, syndicating your content on other website, paid search campaigns or even guest blogging.
Your content will speak for itself in this phase. If you’re producing great content on a regular basis, consumers are going to want to come back for more – increasing the number of people subscribing to receive the content when it is published. Build relationships with these engaged users to turn them from admirer to client. Create touch points that keep them intrigued and know that you value their participation. Email marketing is a great way to nurture these leads.
7. Measure & Optimize
How are you going to measure the success of your content? This is a question that must be answered before the content is even developed. Different metrics apply to different types of content based on topic, target audience, goal result and the medium by which it is distributed. If you answer that question first, then you can focus in on what analytics are most important. Based on that, you can make changes for the next piece developed that address the pros and cons of your results.
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