Chris Gayner is the Global Marketing Manager at the Shared Services & Outsourcing Network (SSON) based in London, UK. He is also a good mate of mine and a thought leader in the B2B social media space, so I asked him to share some of his knowledge with the Maloney on Marketing community. Enjoy!
With the gradual recovery from the worst economic downturn in 10 years underway, organisations of all shapes and sizes are looking for the most effective allocation of vastly reduced monetary and human resources.
Enter Social Media.
The rise of ‘social’ in a business context offers many organisations the opportunity to reach, share and engage with highly targeted, globally dispersed market segments.
However, many organisations looking for quick wins, often over look the fact that the concept of ‘social’ is not simply another channel to push marketing messages to your audience.
This post takes a practical look at the development of an integrated content strategy, including how to leverage ‘social’ as a channel.
Content Strategy Development 101
Developing your content strategy is similar to setting up a basic marketing plan – let’s look at the basic elements:
Review and align your business objectives
What are your overall business/department objectives and how will the development of content help achieve these objectives?
Will the content be the final product or a means to reaching your objective (or a mixture of both)?
Review your target audience
Who, what, and where is your target audience?
Similar to your traditional marketing strategy, this will determine where you focus your efforts in terms of content formats, channels and overall budget requirements.
For example, are you looking to access the finance department of all FTSE 500 companies based in the UK through a geographically targeted white paper on Finance Automation OR are you looking to entice the top 10 industry bloggers across the Supply Management space globally to share your content with their audience (developing a more viral approach to your content distribution)?
Define your content objectives
What is the purpose of the content (to sell, to educate, to attract, to engage, to retain)?
Do you need to focus on building unique NEW content (thought leadership / publisher model), revamping internally and externally generated EXISTING content), or a combination of the two (community model).
Each have a varied level of management and expectations.
Evaluate content options
With your objectives and target audience in place, you should now look at all available content options and focus on those that will help you achieve your objectives through most effective allocation of resources (time vs money).
New content (In-house and/or paid for)
Generally any kind of bespoke content written to an editorial calendar or generated ad hoc – either in-house, through the use of industry ghost writers or through the use of an agency. Content can include white papers, blogs, articles, interviews, roundtables, panels, videos, podcasts, webinars and events.
The benefits of bespoke content include increased thought leadership, increased search engine rankings (if your content is optimised as such), access to industry media outlets (online and offline) and the ability to drive more exposure through additional customer touch-points.
New content (Crowed sourced, user-generated)
Developing your own branded networks (e.g. LinkedIn Groups) and getting involved in other industry networks is a great way to entice your customers to get more involved with your content strategy. Things like posting questions via forums (Q&A boards or discussions), encouraging customer written articles, building a wiki-tool that people can add to and reference often.
Revamping existing content
To get things moving or to test the water, why not simply take existing content you may have (technical papers, press releases, advertisements from the archives, blog posts, past event speaking appointments etc) and adapt to the various distribution channels. For example if you have a video interview, transcribe for written channels and cut out the audio for podcasting channels. You now have 3 pieces of content for 3 different channels.
Existing content may also include things like other industry blogs, RSS feeds, external press releases that you can share with your audience. Note this is not effective from a SEO perspective however if you are looking to build a content driven newsletter these external sources can help.
Evaluate distribution channels
With your content options and formats now ready, you need to look at distribution. From an online perspective, the secret is to be ruthless with what is working and what isn’t and relentless with your testing and measurement.
Social Media (things like company and related blogs, Twitter updates, LinkedIn groups and contact networks, industry networks, associations, publications, Plaxo, Ning, directories – search often for and test new networks), Search (natural and paid – Be sure to optimise all content for search engines and your target audience [humans] i.e keyword heavy, strong anchor text [and image] links BUT ensure that it makes sense to your human viewers), Press releases, events, RSS Feeds, e-newsletters, website, partner channels.
Again adapt your content format for each channel.
Measure, track and refine
Everything you do with your content should have some form of tracking code and related metric to identify what is working (why is it working, how can you make it work better) and what isn’t (cull and replace with new channel).
At the end of the day you want to build the strongest content dashboard to ensure you are resourcefully meeting your objectives.
Adapt the content for each channel segment. The presentation of the content for your e-newsletter will differ from how you present it to your community browsers, industry blogs, Press contacts etc.
Use the same piece of content across multiple channels BUT adapt the content to suit the channel.
You need to define who is going to actually distribute and track your content, where the content has been placed, who will measure the response rates (as they relate to your goals) and refine the content strategy in line with each of your goals
When looking at external content sources, be sure you identify industry influencers (in terms of content these are usually bloggers, analysts and consultants) and start to develop a conversation with them – what are their goals and objectives? How can you align or assist with these?
Contact Chris Gayner
Global Marketing Manager
Shared Services & Outsourcing Network (SSON)
Work Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal Email: email@example.com
Connect with me on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ssonetwork
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Chris_Gayner
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