Content Strategy #101 for the Small Business Owner
So where to begin? You have a website and/or some social media profiles but now you need something to start to fill in the empty spaces. This is where the content comes in. So what is ‘content’?
- Types of media online (mainly text, but more and more often images and video) that can be read, watched or interacted with in some way.
- These are some of the principles we use in our content creation strategy as an SEO Agency in Derry, Northern Ireland to get your site to number 1 in Google
The amount of content is growing and growing, so it’s not just enough to write/create it; with so much competition you need to make it good to stand out. This is an opportunity for you to showcase your knowledge and skills in your business’ niche.
Before starting to write though, make your life easier by devising a content strategy. Having a plan and overview of what you’re doing will make it much simpler, giving you more time to actually run your business.
What is a Content Strategy?
This aspect of your marketing plans out the media that you will create and when it will be posted. You’ll need to ask some questions at this point:
- Who is it for?
- Who is your target audience? How do they usually get information to help them make a buying decision?
- How does it help them solve their own issue?
- e. someone searches for ‘who does upholstery locally?’ Are you there with an answer?
- Where will you post your content?
- On your company blog, if you have one, or on various social media platforms? Remember that specific platforms will suit your business better than others i.e. a ‘visual’ product or service will work well on Instagram.
- What format will you use?
- Focus on the format you feel most comfortable with creating; for instance, a written document, before branching out into graphics / video. It’s more important at this stage that you’re creating something unique.
- The big one: how will you make life easier by scheduling your work?
- You can do this on platforms such as Facebook, or with a third-party platform such as Buffer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social or many others? There will be usually be a charge for the use of the latter.
1) Define your overall goals
Think about how your social media marketing goals match up with your overall business goals. Read the business goals statements below and decide which one (or more than one) sums up where your business is now:
|What are your business goals?||What to do on social|
|I want more people to become aware of my business||You should aim to increase social media ‘reach’ with your content|
|I want to be the number 1 business in my niche||You should aim to create a lot of top-quality content so as to become a ‘thought leader’|
|I want existing customers to spread the word about my business||You should aim to create content that people want to share/like/retweet etc.|
|I want more potential customer names to sell to||You should aim to create content that people will sign up for (e.g. an ezine)|
|I want more sales||This could be more difficult to achieve in one step with content creation, and in any case all of the above ultimately are geared towards delivering it.
If this is your primary goal you should aim to create content that gets people to take action e.g. make a phone call to your business.
|I want more ‘likes’ on my page||This is not the most useful goal – how can you be sure that all the people who have ‘liked’ your page are actually interested in what you do? Think about choosing a different goal.|
We’ll talk more about these social aims in our next blog post.
2) Define your target audience
Who is your typical customer? Of course, they won’t all fit the same profile, but it’s helpful as a way to get started, and on which you can expand. You should also think about the stage in the ‘buyer journey’ that your typical customer might be at:
|What is your potential customer doing?||Your potential customer has a general problem to solve and they have started doing some research on how to solve that problem.||Your potential customer can now define their problem and has narrowed down the search for a solution.||Your potential customer knows how to solve their problem and has a list of suppliers that could help them.|
Try to create content that will help potential customers at all of the above stages. For instance, imagine you are a roofing contractor: your potential customer may have a leaking roof, so you create content that addresses:
- Awareness – a blog post / social media post that lists a number of reasons for a leaking roof, plus your business details
- Consideration – a blog post / social media post that explains how roof tiles can become dislodged, plus your business details
- Action – a blog post / social media post that outlines why you are the best roofing contractor in your area, your customer services, plus a number of customer testimonials
5) Define your content ideas
For the same roofing contractor, you don’t have to focus solely on the ‘leaking roof problem’. Think about topics round your main business, particularly those that are an easier ‘sell’, such as ‘How to create a brighter home – let the sunshine in with a skylight’. Also, think about how you can answer your potential customer’s queries. The most effective blog posts answer a question, so put the question that people ask on Google or other search engines in your blog post’s title. For instance, ‘How do I make my own website?’
Unless you want to think up all the content yourself, why not get inspiration from others. Try the following places to get some ideas:
- Look through Facebook and Twitter search to find relevant topics
- Follow the right people in your industry, who should be up-to-date on what’s happening; tailor their blogs for your own audience
- Plan for your upcoming events: build momentum by talking about them in advance
- Get content direct to your inbox: try Google Alerts and fill in the topic, location and the frequency with which you want to be updated
- Search Pinterest for ideas and the right ‘look’ for your content
- Try stumbleupon.com
There are specific sites that will help you in your quest for content, too:
- Some blog ‘generator’ websites include:
* You might be interested (or maybe not) to know that there’s a difference between a content idea generator and a blog topic generator. The former allows only one keyword per search whilst the latter allows three per search.
Another website you can try:
- BuzzSumo lets you discover popular ideas by listing your topic’s social media share numbers.
6) Define your calendar
If you’ve now got a better idea of what to write about, you’ll need to think about the when. Make your life easier by using a social media content calendar. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet showing the following months and what you’ll be posting on a particular date. Don’t try to schedule too much to begin – it’s better to start small and be able to stick to it than run out of steam when you get overloaded and lose heart.
For many of your ideas, they’ll be ‘evergreen’, so you’ll not just be using them once. If the content is good, you can recycle it at a later point, possibly adding in some updates if necessary. Or you can re-purpose your content in another format: read Re-Purposing Marketing Content for some ideas. Schedule each piece of content several times throughout the year, so you’ll always have something to post. It will make it easier when you look ahead in your calendar and not see huge amounts of blank space to be filled in.
Some businesses can build their content calendar around public holidays and national events. Put these in your calendar well in advance so you can think how to utilise them in your marketing; try to be creative, though, as many other companies will be doing the same, and you’ll want to stand out. Use the build-up time to these holidays to create a story about your product or service; maybe post once a week, then more often as the holiday gets closer. The same applies to events that you are organising yourself.
The most important part – the application of fingers to keyboard
This is probably the hardest part; taking what we’ve discussed above and sitting down to do it. This is a trial-and-error activity, so try not to get disheartened if it doesn’t work out the way you planned at first. It will take time, planning and thinking creatively to get going, but it will get easier. Not forgetting; have fun and be creative. View our writing for the web course to get the process moving
Join us soon for the follow-up article on your social media goals.