- “We don’t really know who our audience is.”
- “We use too many digital channels – we can’t manage them all.”
- “Colleagues keep giving me rubbish content to upload to the website.”
- “Our content is boring – no one reads it, let alone interacts.”
- “We just don’t get social media.”
- “We waste time by producing fundraising emails which only result in a few donations.”
- “Our competitors are better at content than we are.”
If you have any (or all) of these content problems, going through the process of developing a content strategy could help.
What is a content strategy?
A content strategy is a plan for the content (text, audio, video, images etc) produced across all your channels (web, social, email, print etc) by your organisation. A content strategy can formalise and give a framework to your content production. For many organisations, content is produced in a haphazard way leading to issues of quality, accuracy, tone of voice, engagement and volume.
A strategy documents these weaknesses and identifies new working methods. The complexity and scope of your strategy depends on what you want it to do. It can be an aspirational strategy or a working / planning document or both.
The four stages
1. Identify the problems you want your strategy to address. Write down a list of your content ‘issues’ (such as those above).
2. Gather data to assess the extent of the problem. Think about the data which you could use to evidence your thoughts from stage 1. Surveys, interviews, focus groups, statistics and benchmarking analysis will help to build up a picture of the effectiveness of your content.
3. Planning and goal setting. Analyse the data to build up a picture of your content. What is really working well or not? What trends does your benchmarking data show? Use this information to identify your priorities.
4. Implementation and launch. Getting internal buy-in for your strategy is crucial to its success. Presenting the strategy to trustees and staff can help develop a sense of ownership. If you are recommending big changes, it can be easier to push these alongside a process change which can’t be ignored (such as a new content management system, email tool or brand relaunch).
Do I really need a content strategy?
Going through the process of developing a strategy can be just as useful as having the official strategy. It forces to you stop and assess the way content is produced and used in your organisation. It makes you ask lots of questions and gather data to back-up your assumptions. Your research may in turn identify new areas you need to address.
Producing an actual strategy gives you something official to shape your work. If it has been signed off by managers or trustees, it gives you an authority to say no. A good strategy will give you a framework to reach your goals.
We are in the golden era of content. There are so many different ways of using content and so many channels to feed to ever sophisticated audiences. Recognising how to use your limited time and resources to maximum effect is vital. A content strategy can help you to do that.
I am re-running my Content Strategy course at Media Trust on Thursday 17 September. Book your place now.
As a freelancer I help charities with their digital strategies. Doing a content strategy shares many of the same processes as the development of other comms strategies. I have recently produced content, digital comms and social media strategies for clients. Please get in touch via Twitter or email if you would like to talk more.