Let’s face it, you don’t have to be an award-winning digital marketing agency to understand that all brands need content to push out online. From GIFs to blog posts, videos to social surveys, without content there’s every chance a company will find itself out in the cold when it comes to public attention.
There’s a problem, though. Branded content is only as good as the brand content strategy behind the work. You need to target, identify, and create based on business needs, and those of the audience you are attempting to target. This means simply switching your computer on and trying to come up with some good quality content on the fly is unlikely to prove a winning tactic. Confused? Here are 5 steps to developing and better brand content strategy, which should clarify what we mean (and what we recommend).
Know where you’re going (and where you’ve been)
It sounds obvious, but nevertheless you’d be surprised how many brands forget. The first rule of content strategising is understanding where you want that content to take the brand. Do you want to be fun, silly, or wry- are you looking to be seen as a brand that sees entertainment as a priority? Would you prefer to act as the informer, sharing knowledge and spreading the wealth of your experience? Is being a news source, full of up to the minute stories on the latest in your industry, actually the priority?
Once you have made this decision the rest can start to slip into place, although remember- just because you are trying to position yourself as an expert here to advise others on best tactics doesn’t mean you can’t also have some fun along the way. Variety is the spice of life, after all, it’s just important to decide on a core aim that will be the most consistent reason for creating new content.
Identify your audience, and what they need
Content is a two-way street, and that means in addition to your own needs, you must gain an understanding of what the audience needs and wants, too. This is part trial and error process, and part big data research. Use all the analytical tools at your disposal to piece together a picture of the average person with an interest in your brand. What else do they like? What information do they struggle to grasp or get hold of? Which of your products or services are they already using, and which would they use if only there was more information available on it?
Behaviour is also really important. What social networks do they use? What websites are they likely to read? Are they engaged, or simply consuming? All of this can help guide the type of content you will be creating, with different forms more suited to some networks than others, or more likely to be shared/commented on/reposted.
Set out clear goals
In his mind-melting documentary, Hypernomalisation, the award-winning filmmaker and critique of the modern world’s ills, Adam Curtis, sets out to query the fundamental truth in targets. His claim being that our ‘job’s are actually creations designed to keep us busy and unaware of our real task- which is to consume- and things like KPIs are fundamentally arbitrary as a result. Nevertheless, targets are useful in giving us something to work towards and judge success upon. This is no truer than in content creation.
So what is it that you want to achieve? Again this is more about asking than explaining- greater brand loyalty with established customers perhaps? Alternatively, maybe you want to increase fans and followers by appealing to those who aren’t already in the fold? Are you aiming for higher engagement, or a boost in traffic for the website? None of these things need to be mutually exclusive, but they should all be answered in order to complete the picture of why you are producing content in the first place.
Plan ahead (and don’t)
Newspapers may be a reactive media environment- they report on what’s happening in the world. But they also plan ahead, because trying to fill pages on a daily or weekly basis with no idea as to what you’re going to use to fill those pages, until the first moments of production, is always going to end in disaster. The same is true of anything focussed on content.
Start with a spreadsheet, and set out a calendar therein. Pencil in some space for reactionary content- we have shown so many times on our blog just how much success there is to be had from jumping on an emerging trend or developing news story. But also come up with more specific ideas for content that do not depend on current events- things that can be prepared well in advance, stored and then distributed when you choose. It will take a lot of pressure off and allow some time for experimentation with production tools and formats.
Measure and analyse, all the time
It’s useless setting out your goals, aims, and expectations if you don’t effectively assess whether these are being met. And that shouldn’t be a case of simply asking ‘are we doing enough’, but rather ‘are we approaching this in the right way?’
The biggest secret about digital media is that nobody is 100% right, although many people are 100% wrong. This is the Wild West, an ever-changing frontier land of content that switches up every week, month, and year. Just look at how much print has struggled to adapt for evidence of how trial and error are par for the course- those publications have been producing content for decades, some more than a century, and still find it difficult to get ahead of the game.
With this in mind, remember the following and use it as your mantra: Continuously evaluate your success, and make changes in terms of what you are producing when necessary, even going so far as to completely re-write your strategy. Doing that shows you have put all efforts to good use, continuing in vain is the only real failure.