Before the sexy stuff
You have to do the boring stuff, whether you like it or not
I get it that you prefer to work on the sexy content stuff. Creating those social posts with videos, gifs for the boomers, infographics for the B2B, and playing the game between copy and visuals. I love it as well.
However, you can’t succeed on social if you skip your basics. You have to do the boring stuff first before you can enjoy social sexiness.
Your basics are
- content strategy
- structure and themes
- brand voice and visuals
- pay-to-play for distribution
Why it matters
Having the basics in place means you’ll have long-term consistency and recognizability in your content. Solid storytelling that makes sense with structure and themes for grip by your audience. With a healthy balance between brand building and brand activation content. If you skip the boring stuff, your sexiness becomes sexless, will not last, and evaporates before your eyes.
Besides all that, having the basics in place means faster time to market, simpler approval processes, and easier measurement to check if your content actually contributes to your business objectives.
Please notice that this not only goes for social; this goes for all touchpoints in the customer journey, online and offline. Yet, for now, I’ll focus on social as that’s, for most marketers, the sexiest part.
I could write a second book on all content basics. To keep things simple, the five most important ones.
1. Content strategy
More often than not, I stumble upon a content strategy that’s actually a rolling yearly planning — an overview of what content to push in which month. The overarching picture (objective) is missing.
Why do you invest in content production and distribution? What is your business problem? What do you want to achieve? And how is content going to help to solve it? That’s your objective. Not the conversion ratio or the vanity metrics in likes and clicks.
How do you measure that progress? I kindly suggest going high-level and long-term. Zoom out and go for the bigger picture. For example, the sales volume or inbound leads, online and offline. Plot that against the overall content efforts, not the individual posts, as said before; zoom out.
And please don’t forget to detail your approval process. Who gives the final go?
2. Content structure and themes
Tip: In your content strategy, you should have an overview of the important keywords. What is your audience looking for in relation to the problem your product solves? What do they type into Google if they search for information?
These keywords are the structure of your content planning and the themes. By preference, you have about three to six themes.
Audience-focused. It’s not about what you want to tell; it’s about what your audience is looking for.
Once you have your themes, you can make a split. For example, if you want to establish your sustainability mission, 50% of all your content should be about sustainability. Working with these percentages gives you a grip and insights into where content is missing and where you might have too much content.
3. Brand voice and visuals for content consistency
No need to explain the importance of consistency in your brand voice.
Find your voice and make it nitty-gritty operational. What are the exact words you use, with dos and don’ts examples for the content team? Not the overarching descriptions as ‘human’, ‘friendly’, and ‘accessible’. Drill it down into ‘we write as if you speak to your friendly neighbor’ and ‘we use short sentences with active verbs. Lots of white space, short lines, and subheaders. This improves the readability on mobile.’
The same goes for visuals. Being recognizable ‘without a bigger logo’ is key for content. Visuals are the most undervalued element of content. Keep in mind that the visual is the bearer of the message. The visual is what gets the first attention, especially on social. People see the visual and then read the title or caption.
Yet, for most brands, the visuals are a disaster. Stock, outdated, and not enough variation. If you want to be sexy on social and with content, invest heavily in your visuals.
4. Content formats
Having formats speeds up the process. Instead of reinventing the wheel, stick to a structure. This is also good for recognizability.
For example, for a blog, I stick to the format: an intro with a recap, the ‘why it matters’, followed by the explanation and details to summarize in the recap. I almost always close with a CTA ‘want to know more, contact me’.
Notice that your formats are not set in stone, and you can play with the details to optimize for the story you want to tell.
5. Pay-to-play for content distribution
Before you produce the content, check your media budget. No media equals no eyeballs. You need to pay to play. There's no such thing as ‘organic’ only.
This also goes for www content. You need to invest in your SEO strategy to have your content found by your audience. Just starting to write and hitting ‘publish’ will not do the job. You need to optimize on the keywords; see the first paragraph on Content strategy.
I get it that instantly crafting engaging social posts is sexy. However, if you really want to make an impact with your content over a longer time spend, you need to have the boring basics in place. For efficiency, for measurement to learn and optimize and to become accountable.
Some final words
In this very short blog, I’ve given you an overview, in my humble opinion, of the most important basics to have in place before you start. If you want to know more and get some details and tips, and tricks, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
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You have to do the boring stuff, wether you like it or not