Let me guess, we are here because at the top of your never ending to do list is; create a content strategy, and at the end of everyday you sigh in disbelief knowing you have once again not been able to tick it off your list. Am I right or am I right?
With hundreds of social media gurus littering your various social feeds with quick how to and create 90 days of content in 3 minutes, it's so easy to feel defeated by what you should be doing, where you should be posting and how to show up as your true authentic self whilst making money. That's why I've written this, the quick fire guide to all things content strategy. Covering everything from what a content strategy is, why you need a content strategy and how to create a 30-day content strategy that you can repeat without the feeling of overwhelm. Whether you are brand new to creating content for yourself or you're here to look into a content refresh, this is the article for you, read on, take some notes and if you're feeling completely lost at the end, shoot me an email. Let's dive in.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty lets clarify a few things around what a content strategy is, however before we do that, let's look at what a content strategy is not.
A content strategy is a strategy with a clear outlined business (or personal) goal, clear methods and tactics all utilizing content. When working with clients, the 'goal' can often be a struggle due to the understanding that they need to be showing up on social media, but they are unsure with why and how they want to be seen.
"To build a following" may seem like a good end goal, however there's no depth to this goal.
Why do you want to build the following?
What happens when you build the following?
Are you creating brand awareness or just doing it for the likes?
Are you looking to earn money through your audience or just wanting to build it for the sake of saying you have a swipe up?
Your content strategy is one of the key components to build trust as a business and/or personal brand, therefore ensuring you have one with a clear outline goal is the first step to the never ending building a business puzzle.
Simply put, a good content strategy is the foundation of your buyers journey.
To begin with, I'm going to ask you something very abruptly, and that's...have you been creating content at all, and if so, is it the right content?
It's okay if you say no to both, because you're here now and we'll get all bases covered. However, if you have been creating content and none of it has been converting, you are most probably creating the wrong type of content for the audience you're looking to bring in. With the landscape of social media and content creation changing regularly, we must first understand that to create the right content for your audience we have to; Understand the client, to get across the right content, placing it on the right platform, at the right time, in the right format, using the right language. Sounds a little complicated right?
Well, before even delving into the journey of where the content needs to go, we have to strip it back to the bare bones and go right back to the start. We must understand the client, and I mean everything about them, from what they eat to why they're stuffing their faces at midnight.
Understanding the client should be at the forefront of every business, whether product or service based, along with your original driving force and your why, to know your client in depth means you have a deep desire to support them on their journey through whatever it is that you're selling. Consider this; If you are unable to delve into the mind of your client or write a page from their journal, do you even know your clients well enough to deliver compelling content that draws them in?
Therefore, to ensure you're writing content for the right audience, answer the following customer avatar, otherwise known as a buyer persona, based questions;
Delving into your ideal clients wants, needs and desires, along with their pains and problems, allows you to start creating the right tools and resources that can be delivered to them through your online content.
P.s. More often than not, your ideal client is you a few years ago.
Now we have reached how to create a content strategy for yourself, which means you're going to get super clear on all things goal, content type and deliverables. But before we begin, ensure you have the following: A clear goal to why you're creating content (keep asking yourself why to dive further). A crystal clear understanding of who your ideal client is. You are clear on your offering and how you can support your ideal client to remove their pains. If you have said yes to those 3 key elements, we are now ready to dive on in. First up, the various types of content.
When thinking about content, the majority think to two things: photos & captions, now whilst these are two content types, they aren't the only ones out there. To name a few there are:
And whilst omnipresence is every business owners dream, it can actually be quite time consuming unless you have a team of social ninjas working for you, plus let's be honest - not everyone wants to cover all bases.
Therefore when it comes the type of content you want to utilize, think about the following questions:
Once you have got an understand of these four questions, I want you to now write down in order of your favorite to least favorite social media platforms. For example if I was to write out mine, it would look like this:
Once you have your list, narrow it down to the top 1 or 2 and this becomes the foundation to where you will start with your content strategy outline, next up Pillar Content.
Pillar Content, otherwise known as Cornerstone Content, is the foundational element from where all your other content is derived, and something that should not be missed. In terms of your content, it's the main piece, the 'bad boy', the 'big dog', which will then allow the trickle effect for the rest of your content. Pillar Content isn't new, it's been something that has been around for years, but mainly spoken about by agencies, bloggers, and marketers when it comes to finding simple and effective ways to create mind-blowing foundational ideas and then disperse them into smaller micro pieces. To simplify it even more, your pillar content is the type of content you feel most confident and comfortable in delivering, when you understand what type of content that is, you're able to then understand the pieces of content you can create when planning. If my favorite type of content to create is long form articles (shock - it's what I'm writing now), then I can utilize this long form piece to chop up and put all over my favorite social media platforms - i.e. chop it up for Instagram posts or film a YouTube video on this. Your pillar content is yours and yours alone, therefore don't let others dictate how you should be showing up, when you must move at your own pace to create the content that is most engaging and compelling for your ideal audience.
Now, we're at the best part - it's time for you to smash out planning 30 days of content with confidence and ease, with the knowledge that you can rinse and repeat this method until the cows come home (this saying still confuses me, but here we are). Planning a months worth of content upfront can seem like an outrageous task, but in reality, it's really quite simple as we're going to break everything down into bitesize pieces, quite literally.
First Up: Managing Expectations
Look, I know you want to post 7 days a week, 3 times a day and take over the social media world, but in reality, none of us have enough time in the day to cry silently to ourselves about adulting, let alone become social media dominant. Therefore, you need to manage your expectations, right now in your time bank, how many times do you realistically want to be showing up and where? Although these numbers are high, for first timers or those short on time, plan for consistent posting on one channel 3-5 times per week, which include videos. If writing a blog, aim for once a week or bi-weekly.
Before you begin to write down all your riveting ideas, I want you to take a look at anything that is taking place during the month that you can discuss in your content, for example if it's Mental Health Awareness Week - you can create a post around this, or National Pancake Day etc.
This is great website to find what's happening:
Once you have these noted down, it's time to start brain dumping your content, and to do that we're going to break it down into categories.
Educational posts are those to educate your audience on a particular topic and/or pain point.
Connection posts are there to connect with your audience on a deeper level, these are about you, your day to day, your journey, your story - vulnerability often equals trust.
Inspirational posts are to inspire your audience, whether that be through inspirational quotes, glow ups or even launching businesses.
Promotional posts are upcoming events, products or services in which you are selling - yes, you do have to sell, otherwise, you will make no money. You can also promote clients and testimonials here, if you would rather not post promotional posts alone, you can add a call to action at the end of your other posts.
Now, if I was going to break those down into a one week cycle it would look something like this:
If we look at that in monthly terms, it looks a little like:
12x Educational Posts
4x Connection Posts
4x Inspirational Posts
4x Promotional Posts
That means you are aiming to create 24 pieces of content that can range from: videos, long form, short form or even giveaways.
Now once you have all your ideas written down, I always find it best to sit down and smash out two weeks at a time. Create a content schedule for yourself that you know you can show up in. This means booking a time each week or every two weeks to sit down and create written elements, visual elements and video elements.
Things to remember: once you have been posting consistently, check back in with your analytics and look at what is working well, what isn't, the times your audience is most engaged and any posts you could re-use again or repurpose into another format.
Once you have all your content written, it's time to take the manual away and get things automated. This means...scheduling tools. Dreamy.
With a scheduling tool for every content type, it's key to find the one that works best for you. Knowing which platform you'll be working from firstly is ideal for choosing, but to support you in your content scheduling, here are a few I like:
I hate to say it but Canva has been upping its social game & I am HERE FOR IT. Not only can you create beautiful works of art for all the social channels you can now design whilst you schedule.
This is perfect for those creating perfectly curated Pinterest pins or all the Instagram quotes for your coaching feed. All you need to do is upgrade to the pro version, which I highly recommend, hit the scheduling button and start your designing process there and then. It will automatically upload it to your location of choice & you can sync up; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr & Instagram.
The perfect platform for scheduling Instagram posts. Upload your content & start to visually plan away.
Tag people, locations & create a bank of hashtags you can add it at any time. Plan a month in advance and let it run its course whilst keeping an eye on your stats and tracking as you go. Manage more than one account using it & add in people to the team so that they too can access the schedule, make amendments or for a client to view.
Best bit? Try before you buy. Sked Social has a 7 day free trial and then it’s $25 USD per month for 1 Instagram account, 2 twitter/FB or Google.
The free forever scheduling tool, however, if I were you I would be upgrading STAT to get the most of the features in which they offer. At a basic rate of $9 per month you can even begin to schedule your Instagram stories - SAY WHAT!? Yes, you read that right - if you are managing various client accounts and you know you’re about to go out on the booze but have to post a story at 6 am the next day - you can schedule that story and rest assured it’ll go up whilst you’re catching the Z.
Along with that you can add more than one social media platform into the mix and begin to plan out your content for your month and let it get to work.
Track your statistics, measure what matters, plan beautiful grids and more.
Last but not least, Kontentino, with its tag line of ‘streamline your marketing team’s workflow’ - the social media management tool to make collaboration and approval easier.
This is more of the big dog of the four, bringing in a wilder variation and a larger scaling tool for you to be using when you’re on the up & up. You can assign tasks, collaborate, share with clients and create beautiful marketing. This bad boy is perfect if you are an agency or a brand.
You even get a personalized intro and training on sign up - winner, however it does come at a higher price tag of $57 per month. BUT before you run for the hills hear me out, it does support; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest AND LinkedIn. It is your one stop shop that does all the reformatting for you too. DROOL. Plus...you can try it for 30 days free.
P.s. word of advice...LinkedIn makes it really hard to schedule content, so if I were you I would manually upload here and utilize Shield as your analytics tool.
P.p.s. You don't need to schedule months in advance, and please do not spam your audience.
P.p.p.s. showing your face is the best way to create connection, so please bare this in mind when creating.
Your content strategy is an essential step towards hitting your marketing goals and creating the business you truly deserve. You don't need to feel overwhelmed in this process, and if you are ever in need of support, please do not hesitate in reaching out or scheduling in a content strategy session. You've got this. Good luck and happy content strategy creation!
Written by: Steph Connolly, Brand & Content Strategist for Powerful Leaders