Content strategy in three simple acronyms

Content strategy is one of the most interesting and rewarding areas of digital marketing.

From a channel perspective it sits across customer experience, social media and organic search.

From a customer perspective, the content we create, in words, pictures and video, is very often how consumers decide to buy our products.
So here’s how to deliver an amazing content strategy, in three simple acronyms.

1. Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS)

This is pretty much the first thing you learn at copywriting school.

The simple ideas are always the strongest.

M&C Saatchi talk about the ‘Brutal Simplicity of Thought’, in which any proposition should be capable of being distilled to a single word.

In the age of digital, your campaign should be able to be summed up in a single hash tag. #JustDoIt.

It’s always good to keep an eye on trends in US political marketing, especially since the parties have marketing budgets that dwarf most brands.

As this great blog post explains, Obama’s current email and content campaigning splits neatly in two:

a) Authentic-looking plain text emails like this:pasted_image_at_2015_07_28_11_53_amb) Simple image-based postcards designed for sharing, like this:fistbump1


And by the way, even the Obama campaign isn’t too big or too clever to avoid the most devilish marketing meme of all time – KITTENS!!cats1


So keep it simple – you know it makes sense!

2. Tribe, Hook, Engaging Content, Marketing, Evaluation (THEME)

Credit where credit is due, this one is completely borrowed from Kelvin Newman of BrightonSEO. (Thanks Kelvin!)

It’s a very neat way of creating in essence a little mini marketing plan for each piece of content.

Let me walk you through the details.

Tribe: basically the target audience. But I like ‘tribe’ because it conjures up the image of a group of people really united by a common set of interests (rather that a loose demographic grouping).

Your tribe are the people you really want to get to – the heart of the group, the influencers.

Hook: Kind of the proposition – but hook is good because we’re looking for what will get under the tribe’s skin. What will they share, or praise, or complain about.

Engaging content: OK, how do you bring the ‘hook’ to life.

It could be a simple image as above, or a quick survey, an infographic, a video. It could even be a blog post like this!

Ideally you’re looking for something that is engaging and shareable.

Marketing: This, dear reader, is the piece that separates the women from the girls.

‘Build it and they will come’ does not cut it these days, if it ever did. Even the smallest piece of content must have a marketing plan attached to it.

Are you going to tweet about it? Email your customer list? Mention it on forums?

None of this need cost money. But if your content is really first-rate, why not use a paid-for channel to really amplify its impact.

You can’t have content strategy without a marketing plan. And your plan needs to have a forecast – what do you expect will happen next?

Evaluation: Which brings us neatly to the measurement stage. You must build in a reporting stage, where you review results against your forecast and form some conclusions.

We focus on two dimensions in terms of data: how people interacted with the content (from web analytics) and how many people shared the content on social media. For this, I tend to simply add up the number of +1’s, likes, shares etc. to give a single metric.

Since social sharing tools are widely used, this gives us an easy way to benchmark any single piece of content. For instance, this is the story in the Guardian about Wayne Rooney’s £300k per week deal being held up improbably by image rights.

Doing the maths, I make this story worth 128 + 157 +2 = 287 shares. So if this blog post manages 140 shares, it would be worth half a Rooney.

And so to our final acronym…

3) Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE)

I’m forever seeing great bits of content thrown away on a single tweet or Facebook post.

Think of each content idea like a roast chicken. Don’t scoff the whole thing in one meal, think how you can stretch it across soup, sandwiches, curry etc.

This blog post for instance is based on the presentation for an event we’re about to put on. So it will end up being spread across:

  • Blog post
  • Event
  • Slideshare deck

And if we had a bit more time, we could do some clips of video at the event and publish that back across YouTube.

On top of that, you have the related marketing activity like email, Twitter, posts on Linkedin, Facebook and Google+, so you can see just how far a single piece of content can stretch.

So that’s it – content strategy in three simple acronyms. Or is there a brilliant acronym I’ve missed – let me know in the comments below.

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