In our latest DX Workshop, we shared a framework that is useful when approaching your content plan. The core elements to this framework are to identify:
At the center of this framework is “Consistency & Measurement”. Consistency is key to making sure your plan has enough time to gain momentum. As well, you must decide upfront how you will measure results, or you will never actually know
how anything is working.
There are several considerations that go into each step, and we have provided a template to help with the thought exercise. Download that document and refer to it as you consider the details we’ve outlined in this post.
We know first-hand (from supporting clients AND from trying to manage our own content) that content planning can be tough. We often discover challenges such as:
- I can’t think of what to say
- Where do I publish?
- I don’t know where I’ll find the time
- How long should my content be?
- What can I say that is unique?
- I don’t think anyone will read it
- I’ve tried it before, but nothing happened
Can you identify with any of those? Perhaps you have other challenges we can discuss. Speaking from our own experience, it can often be most challenging to find the time to get the work done.
Mistakes are going to happen. We all know that. Being familiar with some of those mistakes will help you avoid them in the future. Here are some of the more common mistakes that we have come across:
Content Planning Framework
To help us avoid mistakes and overcome challenges, we will often coach our clients through a content planning framework that helps keep things organized and breakdown the work that needs to be done.
As we outlined at the top of this post, there are 4 components to this framework that are grounded by the need to have consistency and measurement in place. You need to make sure you are clear about the audience you want
to talk to. Your content topics should be appropriate for that audience (we have some ways to help you come up with topic ideas). The format of your content is also important, with variation in the mix. And the channels that you publish to need to be identified in advance. Let’s elaborate on each of these factors in the rest of this article.
Consistency and Measurement
A key to success with your content plan is to stick with it. Your subject matter authority will not be established in the blink of an eye. Build your plan and then work the plan – all the way through. You will have new ideas along the way, and you’ll
be tempted to switch things up. If you are going to try a new approach, make sure it is an incremental element to your plan and do not sacrifice other activities and momentum you have already established.
Measurement is the only way to know if your plan is indeed working. Decide in advance how you will measure success. There are a lot of signals you can listen to, but that doesn’t mean they are all relevant to you. You may not need
a lot of likes if your content is hyper-specific. It may be enough to monitor the feedback you get during 1-on-1 client conversations. At Flywheel it is important to know that our content helps individual clients.
A good content plan is built to suit the profile of your audience (or several audience segments). We suggest that you take a moment to make a formal definition of that audience profile. It isn’t enough to say, “Oh, I know who my customers
are” and then proceed with the rest of your plan. In its more structured form, you would create personas for your audience segments and even do some journey mapping. For the moment though, we’re advocating you write down a few short notes
about your target audience.
Consider the following:
- Who is your customer?
- What are your customers talking about?
- What is happening in your industry?
- What is happening with your brand or business right now?
- What is your “Why” and who does that resonate with?
- What is gained by your audience when they interact with you?
As you move forward with your plan, refer to this audience profile so you can make sure your content is being published properly. You should be able to reflect on your audience profile knowing your content will be relevant, valuable, and intentional.
By formalizing who you need to talk to (from your audience definition), it makes the task of coming up with what to say that much easier. Whether you are generating your own ideas or conducting a team brainstorm, here are some ways to build a list of
topics for your content plan:
- Keyword Research – Look at your own website, those of your competitors and other industry sites and evaluate the content discussed in those places. From that analysis, what else could you be talking about?
- Client Facing Questions – Check with your sales team, your customer success team, your support team or anyone else that is client facing. What are the frequently asked questions that come up? Your content can easily address
- Web Analytics – Have a look at where your own website traffic is happening. What content are most visitors interested in? Lean in on those topics. What content isn’t being found? Make that an opportunity to push out more
content so you can be found.
- Unique Business Qualities – Every brand and every business will have special qualities. Put in some work to outline those strengths so your audience knows what it really means to buy from you.
- How it all Works – You may not have a revolutionary process – and that’s a good thing. A familiar process is easy for people to work with. Giving your audience a good sense of what it means to work with you or buy
from you can be very valuable. At Flywheel we find this is some of our most popular content.
Hopefully one or more of these ideas can help you. Let us know if you’ve got a method you want to share.
Are you a prolific writer? Fancy yourself as a videographer? Regardless of where your strengths lie, you’ll want to be producing content that lines up with your audience and topic ideas. There are also ways to repurpose the same content with different
content formats. Experiment with different content formats from time to time to stretch yourself a bit and to see how your audience responds.
Here is a short list of content formats to consider using:
- Long form
- Email Newsletter
- Tweet/Text Message/Short Update
- Audio Blog
- Deep dive
- Guided walkthrough
- Quiz/Learning Module
In the past, we have talked about employing a Flagship Content Strategy as one way to build out content that is expressed in various formats. For example, you first publish a long, robust whitepaper. Then, you share smaller bits of that content as shorter,
individual blog posts. And, perhaps you do a recorded interview with someone discussing the same topic and post that as a video. Think about how your topics can come to life in various ways.
The last part of the framework to touch on is channel selection. In other words – where do you want your content to be published. There are a LOT of options. If you are trying to build up any Search Engine traffic, then you certainly want to make
sure your content is organized by topic and published on your own website. That is an imperative. From there, you can extend your reach by sharing your content on social media. You will be able to leverage the network effect of these channels by reaching
your audience where they already exist. The big mistake here though is to try to be in too many places at once. The key questions to consider when deciding on a channel are:
- Where is my audience?
- What is the format of my content and which channel suits that best?
- What is my comfort zone?
- What is my capacity?
The last two questions in that list touch on something that we think is particularly important. We often encounter reluctance to start showing up on social channels that are unfamiliar. If it isn’t completely void of your target audience, start
with a channel that you are most comfortable with and only go beyond that if you have enough capacity to do that consistently.
Here is another link to the template we provided at the top of the post:
This resource should help as a guide. Adapt the concepts to help you structure your thinking. Once you have a plan for what you will talk about and how you will target your content, you can get into build a workplan for your strategy. Consider building
a detailed content calendar that you can follow throughout the year.
A few other resources we have available include: