You may read numerous social media predictions with experts stating increased focus on content marketing is the top prediction and social media cornerstone for 2014. You are going to hear people argue if content marketing is king, queen or even gasoline for the fire. You'll hear them argue that context is king, not content marketing. Some may argue that relevance, not context is what matters most.
I am going to tell you right now that you need to stop worrying about if content is king, queen, or joker. The truth is it's all of the above. Of course relevance, context, inspiration and quality matter when it comes to content marketing.
Content marketing is a requirement, not an option in 2014. Guess what... it was a requirement before 2014, not just now. Content marketing is not some fancy shiny object invented by Facebook, or the social media gurus, gods, rockstars or anything in between.
Content marketing is at the core of every business of every size. Big, small, smart, not so smart, agile, slow and every thing in between. Regardless of your industry, niche, age of company or primary communication medium used, you better have a content marketing strategy to connect you and your brand with your target audience, customers, partners and stakeholders.
Social media status updates, images posted to Instgram, blog posts, websites, podcasts, videos, YouTube Hangouts, Twitter chats, in person meetups and network events all center around conversation and engagement. At the core of any conversation is content.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to engage current and potential consumer bases. Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action. Content marketing has benefits in terms of retaining reader attention and improving brand loyalty.
Content Marketing Planning
Since the introduction of social media, continuous advances in technologies the past decade and the challenging economic climate, many marketers are forgetting or choosing to ignore the importance of some very foundational content marketing and marketing 101 practices.
For many leaders it is easier to focus on the technology and the tactics. We work with clients of all sizes, from entrepreneurs to Fortune 50 international brands. The one common thing we are finding is that many are focusing on the easy part first. They focus on setting up the Twitter account, Facebook page, Instagram account, LinkedIn profile and company page.
Many business leaders find after reading 1000′s of blog posts, investing in social media training, digging into the details of the technical specifics for a year or more, they still struggle with how to connect with their audience and achieve real results integrating social media into their business. Achieving an ROI using social media is not a given or guaranteed. You must invest time, resources and properly plan. Align social to business goals where it can have the most positive impact.
Every day we hear new clients tell us they have "tried everything but still have no results." Well, this is often because they didn't set goals in the first place, don't know their audience and have thrown everything including the kitchen sink into their execution strategy. They lack focus and direction. Many are focusing on social media buzz as they don't know how to deliver the social media bucks! They are chasing random acts of marketing (RAMs) and they wonder why they end up with random results. Read-> Moving From Social Media Buzz to Bucks.
Know Your Audience
Do you really know your audience? Do you know what keeps them up at night? What problems do they have that you can help them solve?
Welcome to the age of inspiration. You are going to connect with your audience by inspiring them, helping them, educating and empowering them. Many business leaders don't know where to start when it comes to inspiring their audiences as they don't know them!
They don't know what to say, when they are going to say it or how they are going to say it in the first place. Knowing your audience, their objectives and your objectives for serving them is required, not optional for business today.
Download this audience analysis worksheet to help prioritize your audience segments, their needs and align your business, marketing and social media planning and execution to such.
Despite the importance of communication and content marketing, it seems to be one of the last areas many business leaders and marketers focus. They're leaving out the most important part and the glue that is going to make their customers stick around for longer than a few seconds or minutes.
Get a Grip On Your Content Marketing!
The purpose of this article is not to give you an MBA level schooling on content marketing. It would be impossible to do such in one simple blog post. I have written many articles on the topic of content marketing, some of which I will list on the bottom of this article.
The primary focus of this article is to:
1) Inspire you to get a grip on your content marketing.
2) Provide you with an editorial calendar template for 2014.
Editorial calendars are important because they:
- Help you focus on needs of your audience
- Help you inspire and connect with your audience
- Help you provide value to your audience
- Force you to think further than today and tomorrow
- Help you integrate across mediums
- Leverage across mediums, different audiences
- Create once, use many (= increased ROI)
- Streamline resources
- Drive internal teamwork
- Fuel idea generation and innovation
- Create a drumbeat approach to content development
- Help set expectations with your audience
- Help you create loyal brand evangelists
Download a sample editorial calendar we use with our clients. We customize the editorial calendars on a per customer basis. However, this template will still provide you a good solid start in planning, organizing and getting a grip on your content marketing planning starting with your blog content. We will be rolling out more educational blog articles, tools, podcasts, resources and training on this topic over the coming months.
Editorial Calendar Highlights
- Monthly conversation theme.
- Weekly conversation theme.
- Blog post title.
- Target audiences (primary, secondary & tertiary)
- Purchase cycle (awareness, consideration, preference, purchase, loyalty)
- Draft due date
- Primary keywords (5-10)
- Blog categories
- Supporting image(s)
- Other supporting media (image, video, podcast)
- Embed in other resource kits or publications
- Possible whitepaper (y/n)
- Client testimonial / graphics
Do you use an editorial calendar? Do you have a grip on your social media, content marketing, audience knowledge? If not, are you inspired to get a grip? What brands do you think are doing it right when it comes to planning their content and rockin' to the needs of their audience every day?