Last month, I covered the three essential content strategy questions you and your business ought to consider before launching so much as a Twitter profile. Let’s recap:
#1. Who is your target client?
#2. What is your product?
#3. What are your short-term and long-term goals?
“So Brittany,” you say, “I’ve thought about all three of these things really hard. Really, really hard. What do I do now?”
Well, since you asked: The next step is finessing your strategy. You need to decide what kind of content you need, how often you’re going to publish it, where you’re going to publish it, and who is going to write (and produce) it for you. Decisions, decisions, right? Here’s a quickie guide to what you need to know to go from now to launch:
7 types of web content
Buckle up those helmet straps and secure your seat belts. There are a bunch of different kinds of content, and I’m taking you (quickly!) through each of the biggies.
- Blog posts. These babies run the gamut from personal narratives and conversational how-tos to cheeky lists and of-the-minute trend snapshots. They can span anything from 300 to 1,500+ words, with 500 to 1,000 being 2015’s sweet spot.
- Articles. In-depth articles are packed with information, statistics, and interviews. This is the high-quality content you used to find only in print media.
- Landing and secondary pages. Marketing copy and calls to action are the meat to your pretty potato web site.
- Case studies. These are premium testimonials that present your success stories in beautiful packages.
- Social. Squeezing wit into 140 characters is hard to do. Writing for social media spans Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and more.
- E-books and pamphlets. These are often presented as freebies to offer must-have knowledge to potential customers in exchange for signing up for an email newsletter. It’s lead generation at its finest.
- Email newsletters. Email lists are a valuable commodity in today’s digital society. Trend-callers say that newsletters are making a huge come back as mobile email becomes increasingly popular.
Frequency: How to strike the right balance
Frequencies vary depending on niche and audience, but there are a few absolutes that you at least need to be aware of (and try your darnedest to observe):
- Consistency. Posting once a week is better than once a month, but if once a month is what you can handle, then get that blog updated every third Thursday (or whatever arbitrary day you choose), gosh darn it.
- Caution. When in doubt, start on the infrequent side and work your way up to increasing your rate of posting. If feedback is positive and your audience is hungry for more and you can be consistent about supplying good content, then commit to more.
- Quality. All it takes is one off-color post to alienate all the followers you have worked so hard to attain. Before you hit “send” or “tweet” or “post” or “publish,” be certain that you’re living up to your own standards. That might mean editing out profanity, double checking for typos, eliminating politically charged opinions, and deleting that rant you wrote about a certain unnamed critic.
Where is it all going to go?
Every month, there’s a new publishing or social platform. Some of them are worth your time, but most of them are not. Here’s an overview of the top outlets for all your digital creations…
- Blogs. This right here? This is a blog. I use WordPress because it’s super easy to use, but Blogger, which is owned by Google, is another popular choice. Tumblr is a short-form platform that bridges the gap between blogging and social media. It tends to reach a younger demographic (think: tweens, teens, and young adults), and has unique sharing capabilities. Others options include Medium (typically longform) and Weebly (bundled into its website creation platform).
- Facebook. Seventy-one percent of adults who are online have a Facebook profile. Originally a space for college students, Facebook is now dominated by adults and, increasingly, seniors. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, half of all adults age 65 and older use Facebook. That’s about one-third of all seniors. FB users are incredibly active, many using the site several times a day. While the Newsfeed’s algorithms—the programming that makes your page’s posts seen by those who follow you or not—are ever-changing, the network remains a solid referrer for quality links.
- Twitter. Slightly less than one-fourth of online adults have a Twitter account. Here, you’ll find young-ish professionals from a variety of backgrounds and income spreads. Twitter can be lucrative—especially for customer service initiatives—but it requires dedication. For your tweets to be seen, you need to be active several times a week at minimum. Luckily, there are scheduling programs such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that allow you to load in your messages, images, links, attachments, what-have-you, pick a date and time, and set them to auto-publish.
- Instagram. More than 25 percent of adults online use Instagram, which is an entirely visual way to connect with people. Instagram is limited—it’s not much of a referrer to outside sites because most links are limited. However, it’s excellent for brand-building, especially for fashion, food, design, and destination-based businesses. Be here to reach trend-conscious young adults. Fifty-three percent of them ages 18 to 29 now have accounts, and that number is increasing exponentially each year.
- Pinterest. This platform has a cult-like following, particularly among women, who make up the vast majority of its users. If you have visual content and your target audience is female-centric, you want a piece of this pie. Pinterest referral traffic is huge, and the platform itself is becoming increasingly business- and brand-friendly.
- LinkedIn. If you are a professional adult with a career you can talk about, this is a place you need to be, personally. For a growing business, creating a business page (and posting business-related content) will help you entice new employees. Taking an active part in LinkedIn groups and publishing your own branded content here can also help establish you as an influencer within your industry, which has its own rewards in terms of connections, clout, and PR.
Who will create your content?
As a business owner, you’re a busy person—it goes with the territory. If you want to create your own content, manage your own social profiles, be your own digital customer service representative, that’s up to you. But before you make that choice, you need to decide what your time is worth and if it could be better spent on other areas. Trust me when I say that what appears straightforward on the surface—writing and posting—can eat away at your schedule later. Activities like editing, photo sourcing, optimizing for search, troubleshooting code problems, approving and responding to comments, and discovering social networking opportunities come up constantly. Do you have the time to execute each and every one and run a business?
If the answer is no, your easiest option is to bring on a freelancer, like me. First, establish a budget. Second, look for a freelancer who has experience in the marketing areas you’re interested in. You don’t have to have all of these questions answered—a good freelancer will be willing and able to help you craft a strategy that suits your goals and your budget.
Interested in finding a pro? Here are just a few things to consider as you start looking for your perfect match:
- Work history. If your business is situated in a niche industry, such as insurance, it would be helpful for the professional you contract with to have a background writing for or working in that area or a tangential one.
- Experience. Be sure to inquire about the platforms your content strategist has worked with in the past and the results she’s seen from them. She should be able to talk knowledgeably about how each one might serve your goals.
- Voice. Writers are like actors, able to take on many different characters at the drop of a hat. But some are more specialized. I, for example, write very conversationally Others write more formally, which tends to suit conservative professions very well. Take a look at what she’s written previously. If you like it, reach out.
Dive into the digi-content pool!
Ready or not, it’s time to polish up those ideas knockin’ around your brain and get them ready for the world to see. Itching to take the first step? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org now to start discussing how to get your business ready for a 2015 content launch.
Photography Note: This is a Feb. 20, 1962, NASA shot of John Glenn climbing into the Friendship 7 capsule with tech assistance. He orbited Earth shortly thereafter.
About the author
Brittany Taylor is a freelance writer based in South Carolina. She is a digital news junkie with a fetish for lifestyle content. You can find her newest work at TeenVogue.com and Mediabistro. Follow her on Twitter @ingenuediaries.