New Year, new you, new content: how to succeed in your content strategy in 2018

New Year’s resolutions are famous for being failures, with 80% of people giving up by the second week of February. But approach content strategy and New Year’s resolutions with a structured approach and you’ll give yourself the best chance of success.

New year health check

It can be frightening, but don’t be afraid to look in the mirror – and be critical. When it comes to your content strategy, take the time to build an overview of what you’re doing now. What’s working? What isn’t? And, crucially, what’s missing?

Health checks are worth the time investment. They identify what’s not working and ultimately free up time to dedicate to your new content strategy.

Create a mission statement: what’s your ‘why’?

Business and life coach Tony Robbins was recently quoted discussing New Year’s resolutions. He said: “If you want to be a part of the few that do versus the many that talk, you need to be crystal clear – what specific result will you accomplish? What’s your WHY (reasons come first, answers come second)? How will you do it? What tools, strategies, or resources do you need to make it happen?”

For New Year’s resolutions, the why is usually self improvement from a physical or mental change. But for brands, it’s more likely to be getting people on, or further along, the journey from awareness to advocacy.

The key is to keep it simple. And try to distill it into a phrase. A one-sentence mission statement is much easier to keep in mind when creating content than a lengthy list of aims.

Do your research

If your New Year’s resolution is to learn French, you would spend some time figuring out what method is going to work for you. Do you have time for evening classes with other people? Or are short bursts on an app more your style?

The same approach should be taken when considering the audience for your content. Who is it aimed at? What’s going to work for them?

Try to identify:

• Demographic (personas can help)
• Behaviour (where do they go, what do they like, when are they on social media, etc.?)
• Role (what’s the relationship with the brand?)
• Values (what do they think/feel/believe – what’s their world view?)
• Disposition (what are their perceptions of the brand?)

Listen on forums, conduct reader surveys and hold focus groups to find out what questions people are asking. Identify the most engaged members of these groups and use their opinions to steer your strategy – they are often already your brand advocates and advocates get people involved.

If you are passionate about your New Year’s resolution, you are more likely to dedicate your time to it and achieve your aims. Likewise, if you can inspire people to be passionate about what you’re doing, then there’s no limit to what you can achieve.

New Year New Content Plan

Have a plan

A popular fitness app for New Year’s resolutions, Couch to 5K, gets people running 5K in 30 minutes over the course of nine weeks (I didn’t believe it until I tried).

Week one involved running for just one minute at a time and walking for 90 seconds between minutes. Seamlessly, the timings are gradually increased/decreased until you’re running for 30 minutes non-stop. The challenge is broken down into manageable stages.

Similarly, breaking down what could be a fairly broad mission statement into weekly or monthly goals will keep you on track with your content strategy.

Create a content calendar for the year, including your goals (we want to do this by that time) and audience (we’re targeting these people). Make sure you include:

• Key events. Tie in your content with these key events, ensuring there’s build up/reflective content either side.
• Content – what is it, where is it going (channels) and when?
• Sourcing – how are you getting your content? Consider a mixture of internally created, guest created/commissioned and user generated content. Make sure there’s a balance between them.

Substance over style

Just like your New Year’s resolution, you should not just be paying lip-service to your content strategy. Instragramming that one salad you have a week will not help your New Year diet. Make your content count.

Content should be:

• Ideas, not propaganda
• Customer first, company second
• Marketing that customers actually appreciate – make content benefit-driven (tips, advice, information, guides) and solve problems through content (what are your audience’s problems?)

You’ll need to do it for SEO anyway, so why not define keywords for each article before you start writing? Then use tools such as Google Keyword Planner to find out if interest is growing or declining, what people are saying around that topic, and what the results suggest about the way people search. Answer those questions.

Make it measurable

Your research process will have given you tools to find out where you were before you refined your strategy. Revisit them at regular intervals to find out where you get to. Like the scales in the bathroom, checking your progress is essential so that you know what works for you and to keep you on track.

And, should you not end up where you want to be, measuring your progress will make it easier for you to find out where you lost your way.

Happy New Year!

If you’d like some help with your content strategy, contact jason.elkins@archantdialogue.co.uk.