Content is a huge piece of your marketing efforts – at least, it should be. The world won’t know what you’re about without content, whether you prefer blogs, social media posts, infographics, images, or video. This focus on content has resulted in many professionals using terms such as “content strategy” and “content marketing,” often interchangeably.
But are these two terms interchangeable? The answer is: not at all. Content strategy and content marketing are two separate things—and both are equally important.
Why? Because one involves planning, while the other is the creation – the actual work. Let’s discuss.
You can certainly attempt to create content and then distribute it to your followers with no plan in place, but don’t expect that content to go anywhere. Before you do all the hard work to create your content, take the time to identify why you’re creating content (hopefully the reason isn’t that everyone else is doing it), and then formulate a plan to maximize its reach and results.
That plan involves much more than simply when and where to post. It’s the structure around which you build your content, outlining what you will create, when and how. For example:
- Who is your audience?
- What/who do they follow?
- What topics will you cover?
- What are your competitors writing about?
- Where will you post?
- How often will you post?
- Who will write the content?
- How will you measure its impact?
You can actually determine several different desired outcomes when planning your content.
For example, do you want to:
- Be seen as an expert in your industry?
- Add value to the products or services you sell?
- Increase your SEO rankings?
- Improve organic search?
- Reach potential customers who aren’t already familiar with your business?
- Encourage engagement?
- Build relationships with your buyers?
If your answer to any of these is yes, then you need a strategy to help you achieve those goals.
This strategy will lay out what type of content you need to create, where that content is placed, how you should distribute it outside of your current network, and how you will refine your efforts as you continue to discover what works and what doesn’t.
When creating your content strategy, also address your brand voice. Will it be formal? Informal? A good understanding of your audience is and what they’ll respond to will help you use the right voice to connect with them.
Finally, when creating your strategy, be sure to set measurable goals and KPIs, and use them to determine if you’ve achieved your desired result with your content.
Now that you have a strategy in place, you’re ready to begin content marketing. You’ll create the content necessary to meet your strategy goals, and then distribute that content in a way that increases your chances of hitting your desired benchmarks.
For instance, if your strategy is to increase your credibility and become known as a thought-leader in your field, you’ll want to focus on content that will provide these benefits to your readers.
Blogs, “how to” videos, infographics, guest posts, white papers, eBooks, and by-lined articles all help to educate and inform your potential buyers. Distribution options beyond your website may include industry publications, your LinkedIn profile, or authoritative publications such as Huffington Post, Forbes, or other similar sites.
To encourage engagement with your customers, you may want to use images, videos, infographics, and short written posts that are designed to evoke a response. Humor is often the first choice, but anything that might tug at the emotions will help you reach your audience.
Your own social platforms are perfect for distributing this content—including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and even LinkedIn, depending on the nature of the message. Encourage discourse in your post, and then watch as your followers take care of the rest.
If your goal is to build relationships with your buyers, distribution of your content becomes the real focus. Email marketing is the perfect way to give personalized attention to consumers, though many are also turning to instant messaging options through social media platforms.
Facebook messaging, WhatsApp, and Instagram all offer your brand the chance to reach out to individual buyers with your messages.
Finally, when creating your content don’t neglect optimizing it. Think about keywords, density, length, links, yes. But remember optimizing your content is about the overall reader’s experience. Don’t get so hung up on SEO that your content is no longer recognizable to you.
If you’re spinning your wheels and need some help, give us a call.
by Linda Landers