If you’ve been involved in content marketing more than writing an occasional blog post or sharing an odd infographic, you probably get the idea why creating a content strategy is vital whether you operate a one-man blog, a startup or a bigger company. 72% of marketers have a content strategy in place (but only 30% documented) according to LinkedIn technology marketing community. Without a good strategy, your content will be directionless and unable to engage the right audience, to say the least.
However, what this survey and many like it don’t really tells us is how many of these 72% of marketers can say that their content strategy is actually successful. Because if you think that creating a content strategy is difficult, try developing one that works. Many content marketers have been left frustrated after discovering that the strategy they meticulously worked on for months or even longer is a dud. So, to help you avoid that feeling, here are 6 ways you can improve your content strategy.
1. Set Clear Goals and Guidelines
One of the key differences between successful content marketers and those that are not is the fact that the former have a clear goal in mind. For example, if you have a YouTube channel, do you have an idea where you want it to be in 6 months, a year or more? How many followers and traffic do you expect in that period of time? Is it 100,000 subscribers, 1 million or more? What about views for each video or engagement?
With the right use of analytics and of course interesting content, anything is achievable. All you have to do is look at some of the bigger channels on YT, many of which have surpassed those numbers by far. If they could do it, why not you?
Of course, to get there, you’ll need to take the right actions every day, week and month. That’s the only way (other than a deux ex machina) to achieve the goals you’ve set in front of your content and yourself. These goals, however, will be hard to reach without setting clear standards as to how the content that you share should sound, look and feel. This will help not only you and your content marketing team know what kind of content to create, but also your audience in knowing what to expect from your content.
2. Find What Content People Like to Share
Creating content that people are going to share is very hard. Most content out there never gets shared. Not even once. Others are lucky if they get a few shares and likes. But then, there’s also content that gets thousands of shares.
How do they do it and, more importantly, how can you replicate that for your content? What is it that makes people hit that share button? A lot of people will tell you that you need to create viral content. Good, but that’s easier said than done. What makes content viral?
According to Nadya Khoja, Director of Marketing and Venngage:
When creating new content, seriously ask yourself two questions: “Why would anyone share this?” and “Will this help someone better express themselves?” If you can’t answer either of these questions, that content has no chance at going viral. People share content that strikes an emotional chord with them. Your job is to identify and articulate that emotion-driving element.
But even if you do that, even if you create a really compelling story, something that has emotion, triggers, practical value and social currency, all of which are vital for content to go viral, success is far from guaranteed.
So if you already ticked all the boxes, what’s left for you to do? If people don’t want to share your content, they don’t want to share it and you can’t make them, right? Well, not quite.
What I like to do is use a tool called Buzzsumo. This way, I can find a piece of content that people have shared a lot on social media, which helps me figure out what my audience is most interested in. Then, I can reverse-engineer this to create shareable content of my own.
For instance, this is what you’ll see if you search “artificial intelligence” with Buzzsumo:
You can see here content with 100+ thousands of shares on Facebook alone, so clearly this is something people are interested in. With this knowledge, you can better predict what resonates with the audience and what makes them engage, instead of stumbling in the dark, hoping to create something “viral” and can create a high-value, sharable content, which will help you improve your content strategy.
3. Look for Link-Worthy Content
Links have always been an important factor when it comes to Google ranking. However, where once all it took is quantity, today, quality is much more important. You can no longer link to a bunch of blog posts and websites that have zero to do with your topic and enjoy the fruits. Low quality links no longer cut it and, frankly, today they can do much more harm than good to your website. Simply put, a link from a high-quality, reputable source like Harward Review way more important than one from a low-quality blog run by a teenager.
Of course, what I said earlier for sharable content goes for linkable content as well. Sometimes, no matter how hard you go at it, people just won’t link your content. So how do you get people to link to your content? By doing pretty much the same as we did for sharing. Reverse-engineer the content that already has a lot of links, create something similar but better and then promote your “improved version” to those same people who have already linked the original. This is called the “Skyscraper technique”.
Here’s how this works and how it can help you improve your content strategy. First, search for a topic in Google, for instance, these are the first results for “How to learn a new language?”:
Now, I can take these results and one by one paste their links into a tool like Site Explorer by cognitiveSEO, which will look like this:
So I know that an article from a source like TED blog is link-worthy and all I need to do is create something similar but better and then promote it to the same websites that have already link to TED’s and ask them for links. It’s not a sure-fire way that you’ll get links, but it beats any other method.
4. Be Consistent, but Not a Slave to Specific Days for Publishing
In order to run a successful blog, you need to have loyal readers. And you can’t have that if you are not consistent with your schedule. Your audience needs to know not only what type of content and tone they can expect from you, but also when. This is why you need a content schedule.
Whether your schedule will be writing a post every week, twice per week, or every day is entirely up to you and the type of content you create. Perhaps your readers don’t want to see a post from you every day. In addition, you also need to think about quality. Can you create high-quality, well-researched articles every day?
But whatever schedule you decide on, try sticking to it. If it’s to publish a post every Saturday, publish a post every Saturday. Just be consistent.That way, your audience will have something to look forward to.
But here’s the catch. Don’t be a slave to specific days. Try publishing your content on different days, if for nothing else, then to attract some new audience that your content is not reaching on your favourite days. You might find that your content is getting more eyes on Mondays or Wednesdays than on weekends as you previously thought.
5. Repurpose Your Old Content
Why try to create something new or emulate what others are doing, when you probably already have something that your audience has enjoyed in the past? If you have an article that garnered a lot of engagement, why not make it into a video? Why not use that infographic and make it into a slideshare? A how-to post into a Q&A and so on?
You’ll be surprised at how much you have to work with if you just get a good look at your already existing content. If it worked once, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work a second or third time, with just a few adjustments.
6. Engage Your Audience
One of the biggest mistakes content marketers make is to fail to engage with their audience. Without this, you’ll never find out what your customers want to see. This is why you need to pay close attention to comments below your posts, tweets about you, Facebook comments and any questions you get.
These will not only tell you a lot about your audience, but also how they see your content and what they would like to hear you talk about next.
Creating a content strategy that works is a difficult task, so finding out that it doesn’t really work is a hard blow. Luckily, with these six ideas, you can greatly improve your content strategy.
Do you have any comments or questions about how to improve your content strategy? Let me know in the comments below and help a fellow out by sharing this post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+. Also, if you need help to create content that your audience will enjoy, let’s get in touch.