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There are two challenges that businesses and brands face when it comes to publishing content on a regular basis.
- Getting the right “information” in front of the right people at the right time; at the right place.
- Keeping content fresh, consistent and relevant.
This is where developing a content strategy process comes into play. After you’ve built a content creation system and established you online personas. You’ll need a repeatable scheme in place to provide a level of organization that will provide you with the confidence to keep improving on your process.
When creating content for consumption, there should always be looming questions such as: ‘How can we make this better? Where can we innovate?’ Applying these steps into your everyday practices will hopefully help you view your content from a number of different perspectives including:
- How is your content received?
- How does it help your target audience achieve a task (inspire, entertainment, community, etc.)
- Where is your content consumed?
- Where can you increase the focus of your energy?
Developing an effective content strategy process begins with re-shaping how your view your business. No matter what type of industry you may be a part of, you should consider your business a publishing entity. The Internet has afforded a large amount of opportunities for those who can master and utilize its various platforms as tools for growth.
There will always be the opportunity to execute paid advertising through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. To truly be effective when it comes to developing your content strategy process you’ll need a mix of SEO, content marketing and paid advertising to build a sense of community around your brand. Especially, if you’re in the people and services business.
The content strategy process creates a designated scheme with everyone operating as one unit and each member of the organization has a clear understanding about who is doing what during the production process.
The content strategy process consist of 6 stages:
Following this recipe, you can eliminate all the speculation out of execution. Just imagine — if your content dream team didn’t have to anticipate all the steps required to create and publish a piece of content, they would be at liberty to create in the name of freedom.
Governance = execution+consistency and should always be at the heart of everything you do as a brand.
Like any business, there are equations that need to be reverse engineered and by developing a content strategy process you can generate your own a repeatable formula. Below, I am going to deep dive into the six stages of the content strategy process and how you can use them as tools for growth.
The planning stage of the content strategy process is the most important and should be the most exciting aspect of developing your overall content strategy. Why? Because this is the starting of point of everything that is set to come. You will have the opportunity to use you imagination to build and make decisions based off the data you have already accumulated.
The planning stage is great opportunity to perform content audits when it comes to your website, information flow and identifying your digital assets. This will put you in a position to understand which path you need to take to achieve your overall goals.
The main tools you’ll to utilize during each stage of the process include:
- Identity pillars
- Messaging architecture
- Online personas
- Design thinking
- User experience (Information architecture)
After finishing the planning stage of the content strategy process. You should have an idea of how much content you have on hand, where the content lives and how can perform better when it comes to creating conversations. By identifying these tools you can be to prepare for the next stage.
This is often the most enjoyable stage of the content creation because the ‘act’ of creating never changes. It does get better with iteration and that can be fulfilling on its own. In this stage of the process you should be determining the content formats that you want to focus on and how you will structure the information you are presenting.
This is where ‘Social Engineering‘ comes into play.
I define ‘Social Engineering’ as the branch of technology concerned with content formats, publishing and distribution by utilizing social media to regulate or develop a future outcome (increase revenue, product promotion, website traffic and/or building an online community).
With respect to your business, let’s take a deeper look at the different components of ‘Social Engineering’ such as content formats, publishing and distribution.
Content formats for businesses include blog posts, images, videos, quizzes/polls, podcasts, press releases and audio.
Distribution includes the channels you establish to share and promote the content you create. This includes your website, social media profiles, video platforms, email newsletter or mobile app. Distribution can be owned, earned and paid.
Social Engineering is effectively utilized when you combine all three: content formats, publishing and distribution.
Content formats are a combination of different information organized in a specific scheme. This is the science behind every party that produces a piece of content involving your business (interviews, blog posts, fan art, customer reviews, etc.)
As a business, you want to create an ecosystem around your content. This is important because different people consume different types content formats. People read, watch videos or enjoy looking at photos. As a brand, you may only utilize audio, video and imagery. The extra push from other parties can help your content expand its overall reach and make that the standard for your content moving forward. From customers — to brand advocates — to your target audience.
The ‘act’ of creating provides a sense of confidence and trust.
The publishing stage of the content strategy process is all about how you organize the specialized knowledge you have at your disposal. I personally like to use systems that increase productivity, build leverage and create value. This feat can be accomplished through the application of growth strategies.
As with anything in life, creating content everyday can be broken down into a number of schemes, strategies and tactics. The philosophy that I preach is based around having a solid infrastructure. Always remember, the act of creating content is — ONLY— 25% of the process.
Infrastructure = People, Process & Technology
Having an infrastructure in place can provide the foundation to scale up, and not just on a business level but on a personal level as well.
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”
— Jim Rohn
Creating content everyday is a great growth strategy when it comes to focusing on your core product (music, writing, services, etc.), building a fan base and engaging within your online community. Cultivating an effective growth strategy can help you build a solid foundation for your career moving forward.
The beauty of growth strategies is that no matter how many fans you gain — your creative process remains the same.
Focus and simplicity at its finest.
- This is — WHAT— I create .
- This is — HOW — I get it to the people.
- This is the — VALUE — being created.
The fact of the matter is that everyone’s path to success will be different. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to the content strategy process. This is why developing a growth strategy has become a valuable asset in today’s attention-based economy.
For all content creators, routines have been proven to be powerful. True mastery is achieved through the discipline that comes with setting deadlines and keeping a schedule. Even if it’s self-administered, the act of keeping a schedule allows for the process of planning.
The process of planning includes forming effective habits, critical thinking and creating an environment where you can anticipate and react to any given situation.
Schemes are a valuable publishing tool because they can help content creators establish an understanding of what can happen in the future, as well as being prepared to face adversity.
Who are you talking to? The distribution leg of the content strategy process will help you get the right information, in front of the right people, at the right place and at the right time. This stage will put you in a position to create content for everywhere. Let’s discuss this in further detail below.
Content creation is simple.
The key is to connect process, technology and people together to form an overlaying initiative. Whether it be from local community gatherings or discussing the latest popular show on NetFlix. Creating content for everywhere is a matter of approach:
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What is the conversation being created?
- Is your content ready for display on mobile, desktop, tablets, etc?
It all starts with focus and knowing who you’re trying to reach. First, let’s discuss the ‘idea’ behind content as a whole. Content is made up of three total components:
- Knowledge – What are you trying to communicate?
- Format – How is the content presented? Visual? Readers? Listeners?
- Layout – How is the content distributed? Is it interchangeable (Audio > Video > Print)?
These three components are often at times confused by brands. It all starts with clear messaging and being able to construct a reality around your brand.
Knowledge = Opinion (Perspective or Fact)
Format = Consumption (Audio or Visual)
Layout = Conversations (Platforms or Channels)
Although we should always be rethinking how we create content. Learning from the past still holds it value when it comes to this topic. A great example of ‘how to talk’ to your audience can be learned from Print media and Broadcast. They are still used today and have been in place for the better part of the last century.
The only difference about creating content for everywhere is that our means of communicating with people are much more personal. Everyone has a phone and the majority of people use social media channels as a form of communion. Creating content for the masses begins with finding your place throughout these transactions. The key is to cultivate your voice, add value and be consistent when it comes to building your brand.
Embracing the idea of ‘creating content for everywhere’ introduces a number of challenges. Let’s go back to the key facets of creating a process around your content. You break ground with content consumption: bringing process, technology and people together. It’s human nature at its finest.
A relatable example I like to use are gas stations. You drive a car, you have places to go, YOU NEED GAS. It all initiates with creating a process around your content and helping people fulfill a need. Whether it be knowledge, entertainment or simply answering a question. People remember situations where a problem was solved and value was added to their life.
Another key is to embrace trial and error, this is why creating a process around your content can be challenging. Through the content iteration process, it will get better and increase your odds of success. The more you experiment, the more you learn about what people like about your brand, business or you as an individual. Creating content is about being able to apply your skills, talents or product with the advantage of technology to meet the needs of the consumer.
Creating content — in itself — is a learning process. The basic idea behind the analyze stage of the content creation process is experimentation. By approaching content creating with a growth mindset, this will — ultimately — lead you down a path of discovery.
The content iteration process places a focus on improving the overall process of content creation. Viewing the action as a whole that involves every aspect of your business, brand and organization.
With ‘ITERATION‘ being the main component in the phrase. The word is meant to place a direct focus on improvement, by setting a predetermined goal and having the infrastructure in place to adapt. The content iteration process not only place value on improvement. The process can also help you examine the different avenues you can take to improve your overall content creation efforts.
How you think about creating content is just as important as the ‘act of creating’. The only difference is that the ‘act of creating’ never changes. Your mindset toward content creation should always be focused on improving your content. The purpose of content iteration is to refine your marketing mix and find better ways to connect with your target audience.
How does the content iteration process help your brand connect to your target audience?
The content iteration process places you a practical path to brand illumination. Understandably, the major concerns for most businesses and brands executing digital transformations are:
- Creating Content
- Building A Brand
- Reaching Consumers
The content iteration process is a great way to achieve all four. Content creation is a valuable asset for brands because your digital properties can live on the Internet and continue to generate revenue for your business years after the initial publishing. This provides a number of opportunities including strategic partnerships, collaboration, re-purposing content & annual guest features.
The value of content iteration is that brands will know exactly what to look for as they execute objectives. This will allow you to proactively analyze your target audience’s wants needs and needs. While working to bring awareness to your brand, business, services and products.
This is the most essential aspect of the content strategy process. Governing your content will guarantee a universal experience across the board. From inside your organization to the people consuming your content.
Infrastructure = People, Process & Technology
Who are the people that are going to help you execute your vision, improve the process and connect with your target audience? No matter if you’re a one person team or a flourishing business. The concepts that I will discuss can be applied through out any size organization that is interested in:
- Digital Transformation
- Increasing Sales
- Saving Time
- Building A Marketing Funnel
Once you have the process locked in, you can now focus on your supporting team. The purpose of building a content dream team is to help you bring the outside (what is your message?) together with the inside (how do you plan, create and distribute your content?).
I always say ‘Infrastructure is key‘, because once you’ve built the roads (channels), you have the product (information), now it’s time plan your next move.
Governing your content dream team is not just about putting the right people together to accomplish a goal. It’s about — why — you are building a team around your content to achieve a certain outcome. If you want to connect the outside (what is your message?) to the inside (how do you plan, create and distribute your content?) you have to find the right talent and have a repeatable scheme in place that can be governed by the group as a whole.
Linguistics is a productive play on human nature, that is why I am labeling your team of content creators as a ‘Dream Team’. Because finding the right players does come with having a number of skill sets that can create value across the board.
For instance, the member of your content dream team who handles social media platforms, shouldn’t ‘just‘ have a specialty in ‘Facebook Advertising’. The content dream team should be able to communicate across multiple platforms and engage with users where they live and in the content format they choose to communicate.
As with any agile organization, speed kills and it pays to have people in place who can perform a number of tasks outside of their topic or specialty-area. It’s not necessarily getting the most bang for your buck. It’s more so tapping into the gig economy and utilizing people who have cultivated multiple skill sets. Upwork is a great place to connect with talent who may have what you’re looking for, and should be skilled at managing time and projects.
Content dream teams will also put you in a position to create better ideas, innovate your process and increase engagement.
CONTENT STRATEGY — WHY DEVELOP A PROCESS?
Content Strategy combined with Content Marketing supports Branding
A major key to being a great communicator is knowing who you are — you can further determine who you are through branding — the next step is to figure out, how do you broadcast who you are to your target audience in a strategic way?
This is where the content strategy process and content marketing contribute to the overall infrastructure of your digital marketing strategy efforts.
How do you exactly define the Content Strategy Process?
The content strategy process characterizes the preparation cycle for your digital plan of action. When I say content strategy process. I specifically mean a preparation cycle for creating and managing digital content such as photos, audio and visuals on a continual basis.
Schemes Create Freedom & Increase Productivity
The content strategy process is a scheme that your organization can use to plan, create, publish, analyze and govern content. Schemes create freedom; they provide a level of unity when devising agreements and how to best implement these predetermined agreements.
The two main focus areas:
- Effective, accessible content
- Repeatable schemes
What is effective, accessible content?
The content strategy process has two functions:
- It aligns your content with your business objectives as a brand.
- It benefits your target audience in achieving their tasks, answering questions and solving their problems.
Do not present your target audience with an entirely different experience than the one they came to you to receive — this hinders the chief aim of your content helping to achieve tasks, business objectives and increasing revenue.
If the “information” you want to focus on in your social media posts don’t coordinate with your pre-determined business objectives or aid your target audience in achieving their tasks, then don’t cultivate it into content.
The underlying rule is this, if it doesn’t support you in growing revenue, completing your business objectives or helping the organization with any accomplishments. Nine times out of ten, the “information” being presented will not aid your target audience and is most likely a misuse of time.
What is a Repeatable Lifecycle?
A repeatable lifecycle is a routine that your organization is accustomed to executing. It is like a recipe that everyone has repeated a thousand times over. The repeatable lifecycle infers that each type of content that is produced within your organization can be reproduced by using the same methods each time.
Talk About What Your Target Audience Wants To Hear
Another vital component of executing a content strategy process is that it places the spotlight back on the people and this can make the process notably rewarding.
By positioning your content within your objectives as a brand. You are helping your target audience with their goals, answering questions, solving problems and aiding them in reaching a new level of awareness. You are effectively placing the limelight back on your customers. If you want to encourage your target audience to achieve certain goals or tasks, then you need to carefully examine how they live and what they need in their everyday lives.
Focus On The People
As a business, the number #1 rule is to focus on the people who consume your content. These relationships can assist you in meeting your objectives (building a community, cultivating a customer base or acquiring funding, etc).
Being business owners, it is essential that we keep in mind the kind of knowledge our target customers need to achieve their tasks. Or else, we might compromise their loyalty by distributing off target content. As a brand, you don’t want to risk losing prime positioning within your industry. The key is to keep gaining momentum, step-by-step.
In conclusion, we now realize that content is knowledge arranged in a scheme that is easily accessible to your target audience.
The content strategy process is a preparation cycle for creating and managing digital content such as photos, audio, visuals, etc.
The repeatable lifecycle infers that each type of content that is produced within your organization can be reproduced by using the same methods each time.
The overlaying scheme of content marketing has Governance built-in (execution+consistency) and should be always be at the heart of everything you do in order to produce fruitful content.
So, in what capacity does the content strategy process take part in ‘the action’ of designing a scheme around your content?
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