1. Lay A Foundation
Create your content calendar for the year now. In January, it will just be a skeleton, but the skeleton is what will hold the body of your content plan together as you build it out month by month throughout the year. If you can afford an enterprise tool to handle your content calendar and publication to multiple platforms, that’s fantastic. If you are like most people; however, you’ll need to rely on a spreadsheet.
Your spreadsheet should include:
– Month-by-Month Breakout of Content Goals (I make each month a tab of its own when creating a sheet for one brand. For multiple brands it gets more complex.)
– List of major events, holidays and brand-sponsored events in each month, as well as any speaking gigs at which your brand may be presenting and any events you sponsor or host (these will have content tie-ins and will also affect your publication schedule)
– List of planned topics
– List of planned keywords, keyphrases and other SEO-related data
– A column to track content across social shares, downloads, conversions, etc.
– A column for notes to track suggestions for improvement
– Author and author popularity and shareability rankings
– Type of content (video, audio, blog, tweet, display ad, micro content, image, etc.)
– Share checklist (What happens to each piece of content after it’s uploaded to the site or published to a blog, for example? Where is it shared and when?)
2. Practice Versatility
Gone are the days when “content” meant “blog post”. Often, great content plans include blogging, but now content also includes podcasts, infographics, micro graphics, memes, videos, ebooks, white papers, e-newsletters and much more. Even if you have a team of people working with you, you still need to be able to ramp up and master new formats and new media quickly. I advise constant self-education in new media formats, as well as keeping the names and qualifications of an army of freelancers and subcontractor agencies handy to call on in a pinch.
3. Plan Ahead
Related to Tip 2, use January to get your ducks in a row. After looking at your content plan and event calendar, map your needs now. Think a project might grow? Reach out to your army of freelancers and subcontractors for rate sheets and capabilities now. Don’t wait until the last minute and hope that your favorite copywriter or developer will have some extra time to slot you in.
4. Budget for Content Contingencies
Yes, there is such a thing as a “content emergency”! Life online moves pretty fast. You never know when what I call a perfect “sharable social moment” will arise that might allow your brand to become part of the solution (or, if handled poorly, part of the problem). You want to be able to spot a potentially scalable social moment quickly and be able to act fast. Pad your budget a bit so you can reach out to a visual designer to make a real-time infographic or a video crew to help with a video, for example. This gives you the ability to layer in a little real-time marketing, even if your brand’s pockets aren’t as deep as, say, Oreo.
5. Be Useful
This tip should possibly be Tip 1, but frankly, you have to have your ducks in a row before you can jump in and be useful anytime you see a chance to help online. If you’ve mapped out your content, gotten your team together, planned your SEO and paid media campaigns, budgeted for contingencies and begun generating your solid content for 2014, then “be useful” is your next step.
The Internet has plenty of memes, parodies and “viral” videos. It’s fantastic if you can tap into that energy, but you’re going to convert a lot more people who interact with you into leads or evangelists if you come from a place of helping others first.
One of my favorite companies doing this is Hilton Hotels – empowering employees to be useful. You will often see their employees interacting with customers who aren’t even staying at a Hilton via micro-content and engagement. That sends a powerful message that helps a brand’s bottom line.
See what you can do to add to the Internet’s value in 2014, and your content will find traction that lasts for the long tail.
About the Author
Author Leslie Poston wrote Social Media Metrics for Dummies, co-authored Twitter for Dummies, and has been writing for hire and leading content marketing initiatives as a consultant since the ’90s. She is Senior Social Media Editor for McKinsey & Company and also runs a content marketing consultancy. She’s an avid Twitter user, so be sure to say hello on Twitter: @leslie
Photo thanks to Gilda (Tip jar at Cult Mountain)