My last blogpost discussed the book on content marketing by Carlijn Postma. This week I will elaborate a little more on the steps necessary to make a content marketing plan. Something needs to change – your brand wants to become a media brand. How do you make sure that your company is ready for this transformation?
First, thoroughly inform everyone who has anything to do with marketing about content marketing. Second, assemble a team of experts, enthusiasts and (marketing)communications professionals.
Step 1: Positioning
Think of your company as if it was a magazine – metaphorically. What kind of magazine would it be? What purpose would it serve?
Step 2: Content formula
Magazines are targeting their audience through the creation of ‘typical’ readers. These profiles are based on prejudice and generalisation – it would be useful if we stop making them. As I mentioned in my previous post, the principle of content marketing is that your audience chooses you and not the other way around.
Brands need a strong identity to attract their audience. Ask yourself who you are and what your added value is – and then create relevant stories to tell your audience.
The term target audience is perfect for content marketing. Keep in mind that companies should target an audience instead of a group characterized by specific demographic or psychographic characteristics. Unlike the prejudiced description of a target group, the description of an audience reflects what they are interested in. It focuses on understanding and connecting with the perception and interests of consumers.
To clarify the difference between a target group and an audience I will apply an analysis to this e-marketing blog. The primary target group of this blog consists of male and female marketing students between the age of 18 and 25, who are interested in the developments of their field of study. The audience of this blog is looking for inspiration and examples in the field of (content) marketing and marketing communications. They want to know what trends are and stay up-to-date. They use this blog as a resource for knowledge.
The content formula also consists of a determined tone of voice. A company wants its audience to feel a certain way after reading, watching or listening to their content. A tone of voice can differ a little depending on the type of content, but it should be a consistent part of your brand identity.
Step 3: Sections en formats
Now that we have established who we are and who our audience is we need to determine what we are going to offer. The structure of your format is important. Think of creating a playlist with your colleagues and share it on Spotify with the title ‘X’s music’ or summarize an event in a funny 60 second video.
Curating content is a recurring topic because it is very useful, also when it comes to creating a format. You can place a top 5 on your channel, for example containing five of your favourite books on marketing. You don’t have to write the books yourself, you can place the existing content on your own channel. However, always keep the rules of curating content in mind (see my previous blogpost).
Once you have decided on the format you can start looking for the right channel to distribute your content. The channel should allow the desired action. For instance, if you want visitors to download your content or share it through social media you should provide the right buttons. Make sure a Facebook thumbnail is present and start thinking about the 140 characters and appropriate hashtags for an instant Tweet. Sharing is caring!
The channel used to distribute your content is dependent of the type of content. A website or blog is the right pick for a long article – in combination with a Tweet referring to the website.
Textual content is currently the most common type of content, but innovations such as the Google Glass will probably mean a shift to visual and audio content. Visual content plays an important role in modern-day social media. Visuals make your content accessible for a large audience. An infographic, for example, can clarify a complicated process to a general audience. The development of wearable technology also increases the importance of audio content. Video is one of the most powerful types of content to get your message across and evoke a certain reaction. It is becoming increasingly easy to create videos and distribute them.
|Corporate website/blog||Provides all the right tools for an attractive and efficient landing page for your specific company or brand|
|Useful for industry focused news and corporate updates|
|Use visual content to engage in conversation with your audience|
|Refer to other channels, give brief updates during an event and start hashtag threads|
|YouTube||Use videos to strengthen your identity and engage with your audience|
|Spread visual content, give your followers a peek behind the scenes, use hashtags, organize photo contests|
|Google+||Allows deeplinks to specific blogs or websites|
|Guest blogger||Show your expertise and approach possible readers through channels that do not belong to you|
Step 4: Content planning
If you wish to have a loyal audience you need to consistently provide identifiable content. Determine the frequency of the different types of content on the different types of channels. Decide on exact dates and time to measure which type of publication does (not) generate a lot of traffic to your website. Planning ahead will save you a lot of time and headaches.
Think of content that fits a campaign or event that is already on your agenda. Are you organizing an event? Why not make a short video highlighting a person involved in the process! Other news or important, fun and relevant content is always a go.
Step 5: The editors
Assemble a team of editorial staff and assign each member a role – still using a magazine as a metaphor for your organization. Besides marketers and communications professionals, you should include experts from different departments. Look for colleagues who are photography hobbyists or have a talent for presenting.
The chief-editor is responsible for all the formats and supervises meetings and goals. The editor in chief is responsible for the published content and rates the tone of voice. All other editors are responsible for the different subjects and channels. Your organization can also join forces with an external agency that acts as a newsjacker.
Step 6: Content mapping
Content mapping is used to keep your audience entertained and informed during the period leading up to the distribution of your planned content. For instance, you are writing an article based on a previously conducted interview. In the mean time you can post a video quote or a picture of the interviewee to inform your audience. The benefit of planning your content is that you can maintain a good relationship with your audience by keeping them interested. Content mapping is derived from mind mapping, a great brainstorm technique. A useful tool to start mapping is a content ‘tree’. I placed an example of a content tree in a pdf file, provided by Bind Academie and Carlijn Postma, at the end of this post.
Never create content just to get your brand out there – this will result in a decrease of quality and relevance and eventually will make you lose your audience’s attention.
Five steps of content mapping
Decide on a subject or format. Always start with a specific format with specific content and link to this with subtopics.
Divide it into subtopics. Don’t overdo it, stick to about five topics.
Think of four different approaches and angles for updates for every subtopic. Should it be a quote? Or is a 30-second video more effective or entertaining?
Decide on the types of content and channels. Keep the characteristics of the different types of channels mentioned earlier in mind.
Plan your posts. Choose different moments per day to reach your audience – statistics can show when your audience is active online.
You probably cannot wait to start your journey as a content marketer. This list will help you along the way.
1. Describe the brand, product, or campaign that needs a content marketing plan.
2. My magazine is a mix of:
3. My audience: I created this magazine for . My magazine is relevant and interesting for them, because .
4. My magazine’s tone of voice is
5. What formats will you use? Look at currently existing formats that are successful. Combine text, visual and audio.
6. Decide on a channel for each format.
7. The frequency of appearance for my format is
8. Who is your chief-editor, editor in chief and who will be editors?
Do you have a question for me? Or would you like me to tell you a little more about a certain topic or step? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment!
Sophie is an International Communication and Media student at the University of Applied Science of Utrecht. Her combined interest of the three w’s and marketing every now & then result in a piece of text. These words happen to show up on this blog. Read it or weep!
Source: Postma, C. (2014). Content marketing in 60 minuten. Uitgeverij Haystack, Zaltbommel.