Content Strategy – How to Maximize Your Brand Content

online social media content strategy

The week or two before the New Year, I found myself listening to the Miles Davis station on Pandora, channeling my creative energies  and charting my course for another year. One day while sitting at my desk in “brand planning” mode, I came across a great book I read earlier this year. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (Wiley, 2010) is a treasure trove of ideas for how you can create content, recycle content and “feed the content beast.”

As I flipped through the pages and saw my own notes scribbled in the margins, I thought of how seldom business owners take this strategic approach. One of the things I’ve noticed when working with solopreneurs, small business clients and even non-profit organizations is the overwhelmingly ad hoc approach to creating content for the  web. I get it: small business owners are short on time and short on staff. We wear so many hats that it’s easy to forget the importance of planning. But planning is the best way that you stay on message and continually reinforce your brand.

Here are a few simple ways to approach your branding and social media

Think Thematically. What’s your brand theme for  this year? My theme is leverage-I’m leveraging all the work I’ve done up to this point to get to the next level. Everything I do will in some way drive this point home. If you really want to go crazy and plan for great content, give each month a theme.

Think Daily. What brand-enforcing content can you create every day? You may love Twitter like I do, so updating your status daily (or even hourly) is no problem for you. But what if your audience is not on Twitter? You can always apply the same approach to LinkedIn or Facebook.  Love taking photos from your life or to show off your business? Share a photo each day on Instagram. The point is to do something you already enjoy. Make it fun and don’t overwhelm yourself.

Think Weekly. Every week is a new opportunity for you to supply your audience and potential customers with relevant information that, when done right, will lead them back to you. If you aren’t blogging, this is definitely the year you should start!  But what should you write/blog about? I personally love meaty, how-to information that helps me solve problems. I create that kind of content and I look for that kind of content from others. What do you love to find on the web? Inspirational content? Funny content? Chances are, you will enjoy creating what you already love to consume online.

Think Monthly. If you’re in business, you probably publish a monthly newsletter. But are you recycling content from your blog posts or Twitter updates? Does your business host customer appreciation events? Maybe you should. Present much? Get some extra mileage out of those Powerpoint presentation slides, and share them to Slideshare and/or Scribd, creating a monthly presentation share.

Think Quarterly. If your audience can only get it 4 times each year, chances are, they’ll pay attention! What’s going on each quarter in your industry? You could publish a report on quarterly trends or a quarterly ebook with your latest case studies.  I love a good quarterly networking event. Last year, I co-founded a networking organization for women in communications. We started in May and hosted an invitation-only networking luncheon each quarter following that one in Washington, DC. You could create a similar event to connect industry leaders in your town.

Think Semi-Annually and Annually. What special event can you create once or twice a year?  Does your organization coordinate a conference or annual meeting? Do you have an annual sale? Capture the content and create lots of info nuggets from it-tweets, blog posts, videos, etc.

You hopefully have already snagged your copy of my free BrandCal Creator that will help you outline content direction. If you haven’t, you can get your free copy  here.

Wanna know how others are planning? Check out what a foundation communications director had to say about the BrandCal Creator:

I discovered the Brandcal Creator when Amanda tweeted a link to it. I downloaded it immediately because I was in the process of creating a 2012 communications calendar for Washington Area Women’s Foundation and was looking for ways to organize all of my thoughts. The Brandcal Creator helped me focus and inspired me to come up with some new ideas. The most useful feature was the second page, which asked me to break down the content I was committed to providing daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually. It’s only January, but I’m already thinking about the content we need to be producing by the end of 2012, and I have a place to put my ideas for projects that I won’t be able to get to for months. After filling out the third page, which asked for monthly themes, I posted a calendar in my office with this month’s theme at the top, along with some ideas for blog posts. The Women’s Foundation staff really liked the calendar and was inspired to sign up to write their own blog posts. I think that having a theme really helped them come up with ideas for topics they’d like to write about. Their posts will not only drive traffic to the Foundation’s blog and raise awareness about the issues we’re working on – this is also an opportunity for them to share their hard work and unparalleled expertise with our community. The Brandcal Creator was so helpful that I felt a little guilty downloading it for free – but it’s for a wonderful cause!

-Mariah Craven, Communications Director Washington Area Women’s Foundation

Let me know in the comments – how have you approached brand planning and strategy for your business?

A Version of this article first appeared on BlackEnterprise.com

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