How to create the perfect content plan:

Why do you need a content plan?

Owning media channels giving direct access to your priority audiences is one of the great pluses of the digital revolution. Site traffic, leads and sales can all be generated but the downside is a daily tsunami of content and attracting your audience’s attention and engagement is a huge challenge.

A well conceived content and social strategy is the starting point for meeting this challenge and a content plan is the central tool for successful execution. So often, people start producing content without a plan and run out of steam within a few weeks.

Before developing your plan, you need to know:

  • who you’re talking to and what motivates them.
  • what resources you already have (video, white papers, a blog, imagery) and what resources (time and budget) you can devote to creating new content.
  • other sources of good content in your sector. Finding and re-publishing other people’s content is vital to creating authority and making your feeds worth following. Of course, you need to acknowledge the source.
  • your keyword list. Without a keyword list, your content strategy is guesswork. Check out how to build an effective list here.

Content strategy succeeds when you provide valuable content to your audience.

Unique + interesting + relevant = valuable.

Valuable content is read, shared, linked to, followed and followed up.  Straight sales messages are not valuable content.

The structure of a great plan:

A content plan can be a simple spreadsheet and should run for a minimum of three months, ideally six, in weekly blocks. As a rough rule of thumb, you should focus on one topic per week, although two weeks is perfectly feasible for an important topic and potentially even a month if the topic can justify it.

You should aim to create three types of content:

  1. Evergreen content: This should be broad content exploring the fundamentals of your sector that does not date. If you make headphones, this could be about the different types of headphones and which are the best for different situations. If you’re a not-for-profit, this content could be about the main reasons your nfp exists and who you serve. Evergreen content will give you the best long-term SEO value.
  2. Topical and event content: this type of content has a shorter lifespan but makes the plan more relevant and enables you to take advantage of events such a major conferences or news stories, changes in regulation or success stories relevant to your audience.
  3. Promotional content: Yes, you are allowed to tell your own story but the content must follow the ‘valuable content’ formula. Position this content as solving a problem for your audience or meeting a need you know they have.

Creating a content production system:

Plan well in advance as you may need to consult a specialist at your organisation or do some research to find data for the content. Don’t forget visuals or, if possible, video. You’ll either need in-house or agency resource to write and produce content and this is not a task to be underestimated. Once you have the system up and running, though, you can produce a stream of valuable content cost-effectively.

Your website, in the form of a blog, guide or video is your starting point but you need to operate using the ‘rule of 5’. The rule of 5 means that every piece of content you create should touch the audience at least five times.

So video on your site may also go onto YouTube and Facebook video, gets edited for Instagram, is linked to by a series of Tweets and its posted on LinkedIn. A text blog with images on the website also becomes a post on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and is split into a number of tweets. A series of blogs can become a white paper and a conference speech. Several pieces of content become an e-mail newsletter.

Where will you distribute content?

This obviously depends on where your priority audiences spend their time and some research and testing will be required. There is no need to be on every platform and trying to do so will create a resource burden that is extremely difficult to justify.

Your plan will need a key to show where content is being distributed.

Take the time and effort to create a perfect content plan for your organisation and bring your content and social strategy to life, get your audiences’ attention and drive results.

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