– Jacob Moss
Yeah, the multi-talented and sickly handsome bastard of a Brit (not jealous at all, I promise) is a good looking guy, but it ain’t his baby blues and chiseled jaw alone that delivers the gawking – it’s also the carefully considered outfits that clothe the mediocre singer (like I said, not jealous at all) that gets the audience looking his way.
You can see where we’re going with this poorly constructed analogy – think of every bit of your content marketing strategy as a carefully styled outfit. You’re the stylist (which is a much better title than Content marketing strategist, in our (no so) humble opinion). You are the CONTENT STYLIST.
From your content ideas, to your channels of choice – all of it should fit together in a way that inspires crowds of people to hysterically scream declarations of love at your content and become diehard fanboys and fangirls for it.
In terms of what clothing items (we’ll drop the analogy soon, we promise) that make up every content marketing strategy stylists kit, here’s a round-up, including how it should all gel together to have it turning heads like Harry Styles and his perfect eyebrows (ok, we’ll stop now and take this unhealthy envy trip up with our therapist).
Worship your audience’s opinion, but disregard it at the same time
It ain’t easy, but this is the game we play. We spend a lot of time as content producers thinking of our audience. So much so that in the middle of an intense campaign, we’ll have imaginary visions of them creep into our dreams.
Anyhow, it’s important to know your audience. Some call it persona research. We like to make up Tinder profiles for our audiences. Sounds like a weird way to spend our time, but it helps us get in a head space in which we can really get intimate with them.
Meanwhile, if you’re constantly thinking of your audience and trying to hit their sweet spot with the content you produce and send their way, you’re doing the same thing thousands of other companies are doing, and most probably creating similar content to them as a result.
This means the fresh factor may be lost if you don’t try to forget the audience in your creative process, now and again.
The process of thinking what your audience has proven to like in the past can sometimes lead to you simply creating clones of content that are already out there. This can work sometimes, but it won’t earn you the glances Harry Styles earns.
His outfits often surprise, with a brave, original brand of boldness. This should also be something you brave to do with your content.
Curate your channels
This is the one part of your strategy where you shouldn’t be disregarding your audience, yet should rather have your decisions defined by them.
Your choice of what channels you’ll grow your presence on and include in your strategy must match your target audience. You should only be focusing on channels where your target audience hangs out. Obvious when you think about it, but many make a major fail like this, nevertheless.
Oh, and one styling tip that rings true here – less is more.
Many brands make the mistake of trying to be everywhere on socials, which puts a strain on their resources (time and budget). This leads to the quality of their content game looking like an outfit made up of tracksuit pants, a suit jacket… and Crocs (while with enough swagger, you may be able to pull off the tracksuit pants and suit, we are of the firm belief that Crocs are never okay).
One more time: Crocs are never okay.
Put it this way: choose the channels that are where you can capture your audience’s attention, then choose which one’s are vital and how many of them you can REALISTICALLY produce content for on a regular basis when considering your budget.
If you find this a hard decision to make, also consider that content marketing is a long-term game, so you can look at introducing new channels later on and rolling out your strategy gradually.
Style your content in the optimal format
Your decision of what kind of content you make – videos, photo stories, illustrations, a podcast, memes, or whatever – must be made with two things in mind: your audience, and the channels you’ll be publishing your content on.
You should also pay respect to the current trends here, as well. For example, snack-sized content delivered in email newsletters is trending big time at the time this post was published.
Once you’ve got the format of your different content series clear, you can have one of those Content creative brainstorming sessions that kind of act like a Rubik’s Cube in which the ideas go around and around (mostly random and laugh-inspiring) until all the colours align and the puzzle is complete. Cue the next point…
Content ideas that are scroll-stopping
Your content ideas should match with your content format, and vice versa.
And you’ve got to fiddle with ideas and content concepts until you come up with something fresh, and this goes for all of you companies out there.
Considering the amount of quality content floating around out there, and how much newly cut stuff is published daily, there are several people out there suffering from a severe case of content constipation from the amount they consume. That’s why we advise the following:
If the content isn’t fresh and boldly original, shove it back in your pocket and keep working away at the Rubik’s cube.
What are your goals?
The goals on which you’ll measure the success of your campaign should also be a guiding factor when you’re coming up with the content formats and concepts you’re putting out there.
To make this a little clearer for you: if you’re measuring success with meaningful engagements, you should look at producing content series that activate your audience to engage eg. Instagram polls, competitions that call for user-generated content, live Q & A’s etc.
If the goal is to drive website traffic, you should first take a good look at which channels are known traffic drivers (Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest etc.) and not spend time, or media budget, on trying to drive traffic from those that aren’t (Youtube, Twitter, podcasts etc.).
You get the idea…I hope.
The messages must resonate
Just like you’re making a certain statement with every outfit you wear (whether you’re conscious of it, or not), the same should go for your content marketing strategy.
Craft out core messages for your content marketing strategy that align with what you’re looking to say about your brand, company, products and services, and blast them out loud and proud through your content via all of your channels.
Once your audience begins to encounter content from your brand trumpeting similar messages on more than one channel, you’re then going to see your audience identifying those messages with your brand.
And, no, this doesn’t mean you should simply publish the same content across all of your channels. This is another of the fuck ups companies make in their content marketing. Each channel should be perceived as its own individual publishing platform – as they are exactly this.
Of course, repurposing and changing up a content post for Facebook to work for a Twitter post is, of course, A-OK, but be sure to optimise it for the second-hand content before publishing it again on a different channel.
Once you’ve got all of your creatives in order, it’s your performance marketing pros turn to play. The content creators and the ad nerds should always work closely together from the beginning of the whole fun and games.
They can give each other a lot of input that can be useful for both parties, and ensure the content being created is optimised for ads.
Those working behind the scenes on the ad setup and optimisation often have fantastic insights into what has worked well in the past in terms of high performing content, and these kinds of insights are gold in this business. We’re all trying to collect tried and tested tips and tricks that push up the percentage points when we’re trying to calculate the probability of content moving far and wide online.
So, your ad strategy and division of media budget should match to the rest of the outfit.
Once you’ve got the content marketing outfit down pact…
…you’ve got to pay attention to how your audience reacts to it and be ready to do a wardrobe change if need be.
The best content marketing strategies are agile and flexible.
You’ve got to monitor the whole thing weekly, pay close attention to how the audience is engaging with your content outfit.
What we mean by this is, pay your audience the utmost respect by taking damn seriously the feedback they send back your way via comments, DMs, shares etc.
And if all else fails, just think to yourself – what would Harry Styles do?
Ok, don’t think that. That won’t do you any good. We promise you, this analogy is now at an end.