Most marketers have realised by now that they have to swap from the
classic communication approach of sending & advertising to an
approach based on content. But for most people the exact meaning of that
is rather intangible. In order to help, we have composed a pragmatic
step-by-step plan for companies to start content planning. The
step-by-step plan is based on several surveys we realised in the past
year. In this article we will present to you the 6 crucial steps to take
in order to end up with a good content strategy.Step 1: Topic selection
first must is to check which domains your company can offer unique
content in. This content needs to be in line with the company culture
& vision, obviously. As far as this choice is concerned it is
sensible to check one’s own expertise on the one hand and on the other
to see how unique one is in the market. Secondly you investigate the
market’s needs. Find out what the topics are that your target group is
looking for. A ‘netnographic’ survey or an extensive online search can
help you discover these domains. Example: if you are working in a
company which organises home care, you want to offer content about
ailments your company has a lot of knowledge on, for which there is a
lack of information, and that many people are looking for. This is the
way to reach an interested audience. Combining the internal (level of
uniqueness) and external (what people are looking for) dimensions will
result in four categories:
Step 2: Content conversion strategy
- Avoid: making
content your company is not unique in and there is not much demand for,
is wasting time and money. 0% of your content should fall in this
- Competitive: making content the
market is asking for, but your company is not unique in, is necessary
once in a while. Given the major need of the market, you regularly
respond to that. Do take into account that competitors will also write
about these domains: therefore you limit your efforts. 25% of your
content is in this category.
- Niche: not many
people are interested in this content but it does differentiate your
company in the market. Invest 15% of the content in this category.
this content will help your company make the difference. The market is
looking for it, but competitors are not offering satisfactory solutions.
60% of your content is focused on this category.
of the content marketing targets is generating extra revenues. Hence
the importance of creating a good plan in advance, which specifies how
content can lead to conversion. The main question is to decide at which
point conversion will happen. Then the art is to bring the reader to the
content conversion point via the various “content places”.
a familiar example: Rabobank edited a content conversion plan in their
content planning for starter-starter-entrepreneurs. In order to offer
advice to this target group, they created the content site http://www.ikgastarten.nl
Anyone impressed by the information on the site would end up on the
Rabobank.nl website where the conversion takes place. Basically a
conversion plan had best be compared with composing a football team. The
ultimate target is to score, which means the ball has to get to the
striker. Certain teams work with the long ball, and thus ensure the
striker rapidly getting access to it. Step 3: Content planning
determining the topics the next step is to effectively plan the cont.
Three content levels can be used when doing so: content updates, content
projects and content campaigns.Updates
are short messages sent with a given regularity. It is a combination of
formal content (data, news, hiring…) and informal content (culture,
messages on employees, backstage information). These are content
pin-pricks which will keep the fans and followers informed of various
important and less important matters. The updates are shared mainly via
social media. They keep the memory of your company alive.Projects
are active over a longer period and concern a given theme. Example: a
project could be a project launch, a new department, in important
survey, a major customer event or a search for employees. As a company
you regularly create content concerning the theme during a given period
lasting anything between 1 week and 3 months. Projects strive after a
clear target. The content is planned depending on this target. This
information is mainly shared via online channels (regular smaller and
bigger pin-pricks) and can be supported by offline media. A project can
possibly also be supported by a campaign. Projects focus strongly on a
clearly determined company aspect.Campaigns
are shorter but more intense than projects. Campaigns are often
supported by offline media. This content creates an awareness of the
company or is used to spread around important company news. All media
are used to force a short-term result (usually renown and sales).Step 4: Conversation-worthy content
content is conversation-worthy? That is the main question asked today
by many social media and Internet experts. In order to answer that
question, we organised a unique survey to prepare this paper. During the
survey we gathered all conversations on about 1,000 Facebook fan pages
of two hundred global brands. In total we analysed more than 770,000
conversations about these brands. The same was done on Twitter: during a
random week in June 2011 we analysed tweets concerning about 300
brands. This resulted in 246,000 conversations. In order to gain
insights into what people share with each other, we used data-mining (a
complex, in-depth analysis of all available conversation and data) on a
million brand conversations. The survey generated many details, but
these are the main conclusions:
Step 5: Managing conversations
- The classics still do the trick: contests and games.
Content with a game aspect, contests… It results in many a
conversation. Together with interaction this gamification receives a lot
of ‘likes’. The word 'free' still does a good job as well. When one can
get something for free, this generates conversations. And this does not
only concern free products, but also free content.
- Structural collaboration.
Involve people in your decisions and they will talk about it. When
their engagement rises, the number of conversations increases. This need
not be complex. Asking a question to the fans can generate a lot of
interaction. Furthermore consumers will show their enthusiasm by means
- Current events. Fans love sharing
news about your company: consumers love to stay informed about news of
their favourite companies. But wider topics are also
conversation-worthy. Even if not concerning products directly, people
love to talk about art, music, food, sports… and they show that they are
interested by ‘liking’ this content.
- Positive messages.
There is more interaction when sharing something positive than
something negative. Consumers love positive stories. Positive messages
also obtain a lot of e-’likes’.
moment content is shared widely amongst (potential) customers, it is
recommended you actively participate in the conversation. That is where
we use my first book’s approach (The Conversation Manager
): observing, facilitating and participating.
Step 6: Measuring success
listen to the reactions to your content. Measure how many conversations
are generated, what their sentiment is and how much impact they have.
make the sharing of content easy. Add share buttons to everything; make
as much digital content as possible. But facilitating does not stop
there: it also implies building relations with opinion leaders in your
sector. A good relation and strong content will ensure that opinion
leaders will be happy to share your content with their network.
- Participating: participate actively in the conversations. If questions are asked, try and answer them as accurately as you can.
it is very important to actively follow content efforts and to measure
the impact they have. Determining targets largely depends on the
objectives you have set yourself. Nonetheless we would recommend
including three levels of success indicators in your measuring system:
- Success indicators with a direct impact on the company targets
- Success indicators with a direct impact on the marketing targets
- Success indicators linked to the conversations concerning your company