When it comes to content marketing, we all know how difficult it can be to get it running smoothly and bringing the results you want. Talk to any social media manager and they’ll be happy to share the risks, pitfalls, challenges, and the hard work it takes to come up with great social media content ideas or build an effective content marketing strategy.
The days of traditional marketing, pushy outbound calls, and unsolicited newsletters are long gone.
Customers are now viewed as an audience from which customers can be nurtured with a new, more holistic kind of advertising: value-bringing content. And with that comes new challenges for content marketers across the globe.
After GDPR, focus has shifted more and more into data privacy, so great content is even more critical to attracting and retaining audiences across multiple digital touchpoints.
This means the need to serve really compelling content has become even more pressing, and the most compelling content is always personalized to the interests of your audience. Audiences no longer settle for one-size-fits-all, they want personalized content that speaks directly to their own issues, habits and affinities.
With over 94% of small businesses, 93% of B2Bs, and 77% B2Cs leveraging the power of content marketing, and 41% percent able to tie revenue impact directly to content, it’s clear that content marketing is a heavyweight in the marketing sphere.
However, it’s obvious that businesses are perfectly aware that their content marketing is far from optimal and that many are struggling to create a strategy, or perhaps they have a strategy but are constantly straying off course.
From the infographic above, we must assume that 63% of businesses (without a documented content strategy) are falling further and further behind 37% of businesses with their content marketing.
So what might ideal content marketing operations look like? Ideally, marketers would search and analyze content insights from all their channels across all of their social media, then use those insights to optimize their content strategy and deliver bespoke data-driven experiences all the way through the entire customer journey.
They’d be able to track their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin content feeds. They’d be given constant insights. They’d monitor their competitors’ content strategies. They’d promote only their best posts and not lesser-performing posts. Brilliant content would just fall into their laps, and team workflows would be crystal clear and effortless.
But, let’s get back to strategy. What’s the first step in creating a stellar content strategy?
The first step is defining your objectives. You need a base to build your strategy upon and that should be your business objectives. Think about what your goals are and create a strategy to achieve them. Strategy cannot be created without objectives in place. In fact, content marketers identified their greatest problem as the inability to align teams around a unified content strategy.
So what are your goals? Are you looking to increase lead generation? Boost engagement? Improve your search engine ranking? Increase brand awareness? All of these objectives have two things in common. They rely upon great content and great strategy. This requires that you really understand your audience based on 1st party data you’ve gathered so you can give them the content they want.
Once you’ve tracked, measured, and analyzed your audience data, only then can you get a precise picture of the type of content they engage with.
You can then confidently create personalized content for your audience, knowing that they’ll respond positively because your conclusions about their likes and affinities are based on data insights and not hunches or guesses.
Once you’ve set your objectives you can define your strategy. The results of your content strategy can make or break your brand on social media. It’s crucial that it’s structured and streamlined – because all your other content marketing operations are so closely bound to your strategy, so you want to get it right from the beginning.
Once you set your objectives, it’s then quite easy to define the metrics that you’ll use to measure them.
What does it take to keep your content strategy on point?
The answer is to track, measure, connect, and analyze your audience data. With the amount of content you need to create today, you need the insights data provides to be rapidly available, shareable, and actionable so you never miss a thing.
Now that we’ve set our objectives and we know what our KPIs are, let’s look at how to overcome the daily challenges of keeping strategy on track and making good strategy decisions.
It takes a lot of time and work to analyze your individual content feeds with each platform’s native tools and put it all together manually. It’s so imperative to unify your content feeds and connect your data on one interface instead of flicking between each channel’s native analysis tools. And let’s be honest, there are a lot of channels with a lot of active users that content marketers should be leveraging.
Tracking and measuring content across every single one of your channels is crucial. Up-to-date and complete data sets are vital to understanding your full content marketing performance. With so many communication channels and social media platforms available, it can be a heck of a job to get the full picture without this data being connected in one place.
Marketers need to be responsive and work with the most up-to-date data sets, and data results are changing all the time. If you’re not agile, you’ll waste your efforts creating content that simply won’t generate results.
It’s because you have to produce so much that you have to be extremely careful. You don’t want to have your teams burn energy on something fruitless that could have been easily identified as a waste of effort if you had more data.
So it’s crucial to react to any changes in key metrics with an appropriate strategy tweak or risk wandering off into the metaphorical dark forest and losing your way.
If you haven’t connected the data from your individual channels, the influencers you use, and your competitor analysis, you may be missing out on the insights that make the difference between success and failure.
Smash those silos! If you want to get where you’re going with your content marketing you have to break down the walls between team members, teams and departments. We’ve all worked on campaigns where nobody seemed to know what they or anyone else was doing.
Centralizing all your content activities from ideation to execution, and all in one place, is essential to enabling a free flow of content insights available to all teams across the company.
A good example might be a design team using insights from content that worked in one part of the world and applying those learnings to create top-performing content for their own region.
Or perhaps the paid content team gets insights from the work the organic content team has done, and are able to make great decisions about what content to spend budget on or keywords to use.
Organized teamwork is also essential to keeping everyone on the same page. When you’ve got designers, social media managers, copywriters and product teams all working on campaigns, it’s so important to set up workflows for smooth collaboration and to avoid duplication of tasks, and bottlenecks.
Imagine how many fantastic content ideas and moments of genius have been lost in long email threads and chat windows. Having one place where teams can save ideas and work together to make them reality is the ideal situation.
The best way to structure workflows is always from one central point. Collaboration becomes effortless when each stakeholder knows what’s expected of them and when they have to deliver.
Agh! Content ideation. Every. Single. Day. Every content marketer knows what a headache it can be to constantly come up with fresh compelling content week after week, month after month. There are around 2M pieces of content published every day – so how do you make yours stand out amongst all of that?
According to Socialbakers data, 90% of brands try to make do by copy/pasting the same content across all their platforms. That’s a problem. Especially, if we’re to assume the content isn’t being personalized or redesigned for each unique channel audience. Each audience is different with different tastes, affinities, behaviors, and motivations. Where’s the personalization? Probably not being undertaken.
As mentioned previously, the more personalized your content is, the more active, engaged, and loyal your audience will be. Audience data insights are key to the personalization process. Without them you’re shooting in the dark.
Content inspiration, ideation, and creation can be a real drag and it’s easy to become lazy, post uninspiring content, or simply just share other people’s content. There’s no point in that. It’s not sustainable, goal-oriented, and it’s a waste of time, energy, and resources.
There are many facets to content ideation and creation: finding sources of content inspiration, seeing what’s popular in your industry or region, and identifying current content trends are all things any content marketer should do.
It’s a game-changer if you have access to a good content library containing examples of great content you know have worked well in your industry or region. Imagine being able to search through a huge library of the best-performing content worldwide, on any subject.
Identifying content that’s proven to work for audiences similar to yours and being able to repurpose it for your own needs is a massive help.
Keep paying attention to those incoming content insights, A/B test everything, and make the necessary tweaks until you’re dialed in on the exact content your audience loves and responds to.
Finding out what your audiences like is as simple as connecting your data together and, with a content solution like Socialbakers Content Hub, you can instantly know which content your audience will engage with.
In fact, it’s now possible to connect your marketing personas with your audience data and receive recommendations of personalized content exactly tailored to your personas. That’s progress!
Another great way to come up with fresh content is to look at what your competitors are posting and take inspiration from their top posts (the posts with the most quality engagements).
If your competitors’ audiences love their content, then it’s probably going to be, with a little repurposing, popular with your audience too.That’s why any serious content marketer explores what the competition are doing.
It can be a frustrating manual task to search through social media trying to discern which of your competitors posts were the best-performing.
But there are already solutions on the market that search through your competitors best-performing content, by multiple search criteria, and see their top content listed in order alongside their key performance metrics.
The same goes for regional content. Content marketers know that audiences in different regions react to content in different ways for a multitude of reasons, including cultural and economic differences. It pays to monitor what the trends are in your country, and not just in your industry.
You want regional insights to be quickly available to global teams because, if something works in one location, you can rapidly replicate it again in a new market.
Have you heard? It’s rumored that only 10% of brands’ Instagram followers ever see their posts and that figure drops to 2.0% or 6.4% on Facebook, depending on who you believe. Social media platforms have moved strongly towards the prioritization of paid content on social media.
Organic content is still extremely valuable but with a choice of paid solutions featuring advanced audience segmentation and targeting, pay-to-play is becoming essential to getting the right content in front of the right eyes.
Relying only on organic social promotion works up to a certain point, but if you’re trying to expand your reach and grow your audience, paid promotion of content is essential.
You’ve invested in the creation of content after all, so it makes sense that you create a paid promotion strategy to make sure your best content reaches more people.
Post prediction tools are useful when considering how to manage your paid ad budget. Brands have realized that it makes no sense to guess which content will perform best and then promote it, as that’s a waste of time and a terrible waste of ad budget.
A good prediction tool leverages your audience data and instantly identifies which of your posts will perform best in the near future, allowing you to boost engagement while simultaneously saving budget.
Benchmarking your ad accounts against your competitors or against the wider market helps you find out how your Facebook ad costs and effectiveness compare to the median in your industry, region, or country.
See your ad account metrics in context across the key KPIs of total spend, engagement, ads costs, and content performance. This context provides a dose of reality that can help you budget realistically to hit your objectives.
Remember, it’s these kinds of small wins that make a content strategy successful.
The increasing relevance of content marketing means brands are embracing the latest trends and technology in order to stay ahead or keep up with competitors. Progress is moving faster and faster, especially with martech and AI solutions making things possible which were impossible only a short time ago.
So, to sum up:
Understand your audience, create more effective content to engage and grow your customer base, and measure social media’s impact on your business goals.