Do You Need a Content Strategy?

by Susan Murphy

There are plenty of people who will tell you that you need to have a nicely designed web site and have engaging conversations with your customers in order to be successful with online marketing. While these factors are extremely important, one area that is often overlooked is content. You can have the most gorgeous web site design in the world, but if you don’t give people a compelling reason to visit, they won’t. You can set up your Facebook Page and a Twitter account, but if you aren’t sharing the good stuff, you might as well be talking to a brick wall.

If You Build It, They Won’t Come.

I come across all kinds of companies have just thrown together a web site and created a bunch of online profiles, thinking that it was going to win them tons of new business. I see many, many abandoned blogs, web sites and Twitter accounts. Sure, the intentions were great in the beginning. There are splashy graphics, lots of links, blog posts, and conversations. Web traffic spikes. But all too soon, the demands of the business start to overshadow the online efforts. People get busy with other things. Suddenly, the company web site hasn’t been touched in months, and traffic is back at an all time low.

Sound familiar?

One of the biggest challenges companies face when designing their online presence is creating compelling content over the long term. It takes a lot of work to consistently crank out insightful blog posts, track conversations on social networks, and stay on top of the latest industry news. It’s hard to balance this with the day to day challenges of running a business – especially if you’re a smaller business.

How to Be the Master of Your Content Domain.
You work hard to plan your business – you have a sales plan, a human resources plan, and project plans. So, why not build a plan for your online content? Creating a content strategy is the first step towards being able to actually maintain consistent and compelling content across your online presence.

Answering the following questions may help you to start to get a handle on your web content strategy.

What are your goals?
What do you really want to achieve with your online presence? More sales? More attention? Brand extension? Defining measurable goals and objectives is a critical first step, for in order to get somewhere you have to know where you want to go.

Who is your audience?
Who do you want to attract? What are the characteristics of the people you want visiting your site? Where are those people hanging out now?

What stories do you want to tell?
What do you have to offer your audience? How can you make a contribution to the community?

What strategies will you employ?
Coming up with specific strategies that can be implemented over the short, medium and long term is critical to success. This is your to-do list.

What technology is needed?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Every company is different, and knowing your goals and audience will help determine what tools and technologies will work best for you.

Who is going to do the work?
This is often where it falls apart for most companies. It’s great to have goals, strategies, and content ideas, but figuring out who’s going to do what, and when, is key. You need to build an editorial calendar that’s realistic to how many people you have to do the work, and when they can realistically do it. Then, it’s up to you to ensure that it’s all happening as planned.

Having a content strategy in place is the only sure-fire way to ensure that your web presence continues to stay lively and relevant. It can be helpful to work with a content specialist to work out the plan and help you implement various aspects. The outside point of view can help you find the stories you need to be telling, and maximize the efficiencies of the technologies too. Additionally, someone who specializes in developing content can help you find creative ways to create content across various media like video, audio, and text. In the end, it’s all about having a plan that will help you meet your goals and do it in a way that’s realistic to the time, money, and ideas you have to put into it.

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