Monday, October 8, 2012

How To Develop A Content Creation Strategy

Does your business or that of your clients' have an online presence, of any sort? As you are reading this online, I'll assume that the answer is 'yes'. If I'm wrong, then I invite you to join the 21st Century way of doing business, albeit a little late.

I'd like to share some thoughts with you about the importance of having a content creation strategy, rather thank approaching content on an ad hoc basis. Your strategy might be modest (2 blog posts a month) or full-on (daily posts, weekly press releases, social media posting schedule etc), but having that strategy and implementing it, will keep you on track in an online business environment that is full of distractions and talk of the 'next big thing'.

I'm not alone in this view, nor is it based on the need to create more business for myself (!). Hubspot's recent 2012 report on the "State of Inbound Marketing" has really driven this point home. In terms of how frequently blogs are updated with new posts and how this timing relates to customer acquisition, the following was discovered:

* Companies which posted more then once a day enjoyed a customer acquisition rate of 92% - Thos who made posts daily enjoyed a 78% customer acquisition rate - Those who only posted 2 or 3 each week had a customer acquisition rate of 70% - Weekly postings generated a rate of 66% acquisition and monhtly postings acquired only a 56% rating (HubSpot, 2012)

The principal demonstrated here is: the more frequently you post, the more customers and leads you'll attract. There are a number of reasons for this:

* If customers know they'll be seeing regularly scheduled, new unique content they'll go to your blog or site more often, and look for any alerts that you send out.

* This will result in them developing a trust in you, in the recommendations you make and your brand. Trusting visitors become leads, who will convert into customers, then loyalists, and, ideally, advocates for your business/service/product/brand.

* Google and other search engines rate those websites that regularly offer new, unique content. Fresh, unique, relevant content means better search engine rankings.

So here's the challenge: how will you be able to come up with all the time and ideas needed to create fresh posts several times each day?

Create A Schedule For Your Editorial Activities

To help you get started, first put together an editorial schedule. This is a way of holding yourself or anyone else handling content creation accountable. Begin by determining what kind of schedule you'll set up (weekly, bi monthly, monthly or annually) and then start listing your business, its brand, or the product or service orientated content ideas.

Don't limit yourself to just blog posts though, look at white papers, social media posts, ebooks, webinars and, most particularly, online press releases.

Next, to keep your blog ahead of the schedule, start identifying content source opportunities - taking the time to set up Google Alerts for key terms used in your business will help. It's all too common for a business to start falling behind, then, once this happens the problem can turn into a chore and begin falling far behind schedule.

The final step to take: implementing and maintaining your content. One option available for facilitating this activity effectively is software for customer relationship management(CRM) and Content Management systems (CMS). Investing in these kinds of systems can potentially allow you to form an almost one step management of adding and keeping your blog and website's content organized while simultaneously updating each of your social media accounts.

I use Wordpress for my sites, and this allows me to add content in advance and nominate its automatic publishing date. How great is this if you want to order a batch of content and drip feed it over weeks and months?.

Getting Other Teams Involved

If you're planning on creating your business orientated content single-handedly, then the past will reveal that you're headed for failure. By getting your company's other teams involved in creating content relevant to your brand, product or service, or by having your content creation outsourced to professionals, you'll be tapping into a great way to access more valuable content ideas - ideas and opportunities that you possible don't realize exist.

For example, your customer service personnel is one team you'll most likely be able to draw upon for content ideas. Comprised of the people who assist and interact with your customers and leads each day, your customer service staff know the types of people that make up your target market. They have a good idea of what they want to find, what they enjoy, or what they struggle with with regards to your services/products, and they know how to use those products and services - the are in the best position too to ask for customer service testimonials.

When getting other teams involved, be sure there's a set procedure for content and idea submission, or you may find yourself burdened with more material then you can handle!

Don't Leave Out The Visuals

Did you know that Pinterest has now become the Internet's 3rd most popular social media website (according to Mashable, 2012)? This means that more then ever before, it's is now vital, to have relevant content that is both visually and textually engaging. Delivering visual content will grow the online footprint of your business, and if you have the skills to DIY, the the cost is low - so remember to have a camera/camera phone on hand to capture images of displays, labels, new shipments arriving off a ship or truck etc and keep them in an easily accessible folder.(using Dropbox myself, I find it's especially convenient for storing images, particularly when you want other team members to access them).

This isn't the only advantage though. Including visual content helps develop a brand identity and reader engagement. Earlier this year, Simply Measured reported that just having an image or anything visual incorporated into a social media post can increase your site's visitor engagement by 65%.

The reason is that:

- Infographics and other types of visual content can showcase content in a way that can be instantly processed by people who think 'visually'. And because they are attention-grabbing (at least the good ones are!) they have a far better chance of being shared, which really boosts your company or products' online exposure.

- Visually appealing content draws a reader's eye and stimulates their curiosity and interest.

- According to a study conducted by the US Government, 83% of learning is achieved visually (OHSA, May 1996) - so the more visual the content that you include to accompany your written content, the more memorable it will be.

The key concept here is that you need to become aware of opportunities upon which to base content - content that is both textual and visual.

If your organization is holding a holiday party or participating in volunteer event, take some pictures and post them online.

If you've ran a survey or gathered a lot of information that will help promote a product or service you're selling or demonstrate your company's industry related expertise, combine them into an infograph.

Any customer/client testimonials that you have can also be included in your visual content.

Opportunities are abundant, so any business, regardless of whether it's a medium or smaller sized company or a one-man band, can take implement a content strategy that will enhance its online presence. You can keep it really simple, but I recommend you take the time to make it happen.

Kerry Finch is a professional web content writer, specializing in developing written content strategies, and providing well written content that is loved by both readers, and search engines. With a hand-picked team of specialist niche writers premium content to astute online businesses through and to consultants through

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