I cannot tell you how many times new client accounts have come across my desk exhibiting the symptoms of failed attempts at content marketing. No really, I’ve lost count. To be frank, a company’s earnest attempts at tackling the complexities of content marketing are often what lead them to an agency in the first place. Many times an employee is chosen from within a company’s ranks to fill the roles of content strategist, creator, curator, and distributor. More often than I care to imagine, these roles are hefted on top of an employee’s already full plate. And why not? With the plethora of online articles and guides stating that companies can use a cookie cutter content strategy and an assembly line production process to fulfill their online marketing needs, it seems like a no-brainer.
These articles and guides usually tout content marketing as the cheaper alternative to paid advertising. They explain that an effective content marketing strategy can be accomplished with ease by making business accounts on various social media platforms and building a blog. What businesses owners then find out is that maintaining these accounts and blogs with fresh and engaging content, the kind that attracts the right customers, is quite laborious and time consuming. Not exactly what they had in mind when considering a cheaper alternative.
Here is Why
It’s not always apparent that this type of approach won’t work. There’s a lot of research and strategy involved in the production of viable content, and the time requirements are often downplayed by the how-to-guides available on the web. What is also not made clear by these guides, is that not every company should be on Facebook, not every brand needs to tweet, and some products don’t need to have a blog. Companies who follow these guides often end up with languishing social accounts and blogs that are sporadically updated, if at all. Why is this a negative for the business? Potential customers are less likely to engage with a business or brand online if they are faced with abandoned social accounts, or infrequent content updates. Content marketing isn’t an effort that could be considered one-size-fits-all; every company must have a tailored strategy and message that meets their specific brand goals.
Building a viable content marketing strategy requires a strong foundation of research and planning. Following these basic guidelines can set a business in the right direction.
Identify the businesses target markets and buyer personae
Locate where these buyer personae are spending their time online
Select one or two social platforms best suited for engaging with those buyer personae
Evaluate your available resources and be honest about the time these employees can spend maintaining a social platform or blog.
Analyze the successes and failures of the accounts on a monthly basis
Remember to start small and create a scalable foundation. Once the correct online platforms and content distribution points are identified for your business, then, and only then, does content marketing truly get to shine. Over time the process will become streamlined and second nature to those creating it.