What is Content Strategy?
Once we understand what content is, we can start to understand what it means to have a content strategy.
Content strategy is the ongoing process of translating business objectives and goals into a plan that uses content as a primary means of achieving those goals.
Every other facet of content strategy starts here. There’s no need to talk about a content audit, content governance, a content plan, content production, an editorial calendar, etc. until you have a clear idea of what business objectives to which you can map content.
As a content strategist, it’s your responsibility to know the larger goals you’re contributing to and why. The right content for the wrong purpose won’t drive consistent results.
Content strategy doesn’t exist in isolation. It’s not just building an editorial calendar, writing content, and publishing it. It’s not having a blog, even if it’s full of great content. It’s not putting out a one-off content piece here and there based on sales or product teams’ requests.
Content strategy guides the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.
Ways To Improve Your Content Strategy
Content strategy can feel a bit daunting for a lot of brands. In today’s world, where every form of content is being pushed from every direction imaginable, how does one know how to create meaningful content anymore effectively? Furthermore (as if content creation weren’t already complex enough), in today’s world of influencer marketing, we now have content being created on behalf of brands. This can make all of this even more complicated or overwhelming.
Having worked with loads of brands and influencers over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two about effective content strategy- especially how influencers fit into that mix. Here are five ways brands can improve their content strategy and make their influencer marketing campaigns more successful.
- Develop Your Social Voice
Your social voice is one of the most critical components of your brand identity. Why? Communication is the backbone of any relationship, making your voice the golden opportunity to establish trust between your brand and your audience. The goal is to develop such consistency that all of your messaging (whether a blog post, a tweet, or a Facebook post) sounds like it’s coming from the same voice— one that sounds like a trusted friend.
A great way to build this out is to think of your voice as an actual person who would perfectly fit how you envision your brand. Note: it is almost always more manageable if you’re referencing a recognizable person, whether a celebrity or a TV character.
For example, a fashion brand that is bold or fun-loving might think of its social voice as someone like Samantha Jones from Sex and the City. Creating content for your social channels becomes more accessible and consistent when you ask yourself, “How would <insert character here> say this?” Additionally, this tool can be beneficial for bringing influencers into the mix.
Does your social persona seem like someone that would get along with the influencers working on your campaign? Can you see them all sitting down to dinner together and having commonality somehow?
Furthermore, having this persona and voice that you can share with your influencer partners during a campaign brief can be extremely helpful as they create content. While part of the point of leveraging an influencer is to have them share in their voice, painting a clear picture of your brand voice will only make it easier for them to do their job well.
- Determine What Actions You Take Online
There is so much content continually being pushed in the social space, and it would be a mistake for brands to try to participate in every conversation. Just because something is trending or viral doesn’t mean it’s relevant to your brand, so determining a series of social actions can help you when it’s appropriate to chime into a cultural conversation (not to mention create day-to-day content that’s consistently consistent on the brand).
Adweek says an excellent exercise to establish these actions is the “we are, we are not” exercise. “This helps you determine boundaries for your writing voice, or example: We are funny. We are not goofy.” The “we are” example explains your brand, while the “we are not” serves to curtail that feature.
The more that you refine and sharpen who you are, the easier it will be to determine what kind of posts you create. For example, if you’re a medical practice, it may be essential for your brand to continually educate your audience on the types of procedures you offer. Or, if you are a beauty brand, perhaps you want your audience to feel empowered with confidence? Knowing how you want your audience to feel walking away from your platform (whether it’s more informed, more empowered, or any other attribute) will help you craft more meaningful and intentional posts.
Furthermore, once you integrate influencers into the mix, this makes content creation on their end much more straightforward. Giving them a list of objectives means less guessing. Instead, having a tangible action item, “I need to create content about this product,” becomes “I need to create content that shows how this product can empower confidence.”
- Know Your Audience
While you may have a vision for your target audience in the early stages of branding conception, it is imperative to pay attention to who your audience is continual. This doesn’t mean that you have to change your entire approach if you aren’t reaching who you initially planned. Instead, it can help you optimize how you frame your message to communicate your brand goals more effectively in a way that impacts your current audience.
Spend time diving into your Facebook Insights, Instagram Insights, and Google Analytics to learn more about your audience’s age range, geographic location, and specific interests. For example, if you realize your audience is predominantly above the age of 60, making pop-culture references to boy bands that millennials love may not resonate well. Knowing more about who your audience is and who you’re trying to reach is extremely helpful for influencer identification.
Our agency always starts by looking at audience information for both brands and influencers to determine which partnerships could be an optimal fit. Once you have the right influencers to help you reach your desired audience, it’s also great information for them to know who you’re trying to get. This way, they can create content specifically targeted to those audience groups.
- Establish Unique Strategies for Each Platform
No two platforms are alike these days. People use different media, but they’re using them in entirely different ways. Brands should pay close attention to how users engage on each platform and build their content accordingly. Gone are the days of creating one post and blasting the same message across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
For example, since Twitter is often a popular place for breaking news and real-time updates, this platform could be where you prioritize sharing news articles or press mentions of your brand. Since Instagram is such a visual platform, maybe you make sure all of your best photography finds its way into this content calendar.
The type of content is not the only factor of differentiation here. Brands should also pay close attention to when is the best time of day to post on each unique platform (you may find your users are more active on Twitter first thing in the morning but scroll Instagram later in the evenings).
While there are certain best practices for each platform that will apply universally, there are still plenty of unique findings specific to your brand that you should take the time to learn and understand. This will help your content strategy, but it will also help guide the content that influencers create on behalf of your brand if they know how you typically behave on Instagram vs. Twitter vs. Facebook.
- Do What Comes Authentically
This may sound a bit cheesy or like something you’d put on a marketing bumper sticker, but it rings true. So many brands today try to create content they see is successful with other brands instead of remaining authentic to who they are. Consumers can sniff out forced marketing when brands are “trying too hard.
“If your brand skews more serious and intellectual, don’t try to be a BuzzFeed or other “funny” brand. Similarly, if your product appeals to more of a “girl next door” audience, do not try to be overtly high-fashion and aspirational. Embrace what makes your brand what it is without trying to imitate something else.
This same sentiment applies to pulling influencers into the mix. While it’s important to identify influencers who align with your brand somehow, it’s also important to remember that influencers are their brand. They have guidelines and objectives that have helped them build their audience today.
If you want that influencer to promote your brand or product, allow them to do so in an authentic way. Otherwise, it feels forced and inauthentic to their audience. Optimal brand/influencer partnerships are executed authentically and effectively to both parties without one having to move their tactics on another (if it’s starting to feel like that, it’s not the right partnership, to begin with).
A strong content strategy is the foundation of effective marketing: both for the brand as a standalone and as they weave in influencer marketing. The more precise you can get on the above, the easier it will be to create successful content, and the easier it will be to brief the influencers you work with so that they can help you do the same.
If you don’t have a clearly defined content strategy, now is to make one. Successful brands research their target audience and what they want, then push quality content across multiple platforms — designed to entertain, educate, and guide prospects along the sales funnel.