Last week, I talked to you about setting goals for business blogs. At the end, in a sort of offhand way, I mentioned that once you had set the goals, all you had to do (hah!) was have a think about how you were going to achieve them and you had yourself a content strategy.
The word “simply” may have slipped in a few times. Of course, making a content strategy both is and is not actually simple. It is, in that it is simply (there it is again!) a documented plan to achieve your goals. It is not, as in documenting your plan is actually a multi-step process and then, after that, you’ve actually got to follow the bloody thing to see any results.
But you weren’t laboring under the misconception that business blogging was easy, were you?!
When I researched similar articles to this one, which I always do, I noticed a theme. Many had really valuable advice but were focussed on the “elements” of content strategy, like calendars, promotion, scheduling, etc. They’re all super important, but when I thought about making an article about creating a content strategy, I was really thinking more along the line of what one should do to achieve a given goal, and not content strategy basics - however valuable - for people who are blogging.
Then it struck me that as everybody’s goals are totally different, I can’t really provide a theoretical scenario for everyone. So, what I will do is reason my way to a content strategy for one of the goals I set in the last article, and hopefully, by following my thought process and advice, you can do this for your own, ok?
First of all, I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure the goals themselves are solid. Investing time and, often, money in achieving crappy goals is, as you might imagine, a massive waste of time.
As we discussed the last time, the first few times you do this, this can be hard, because many of your goals will be best guesses. That’s fine and unavoidable, but try to protect against major mistakes by running the goals by a few third parties, like (business-savvy) friends and family, a mentor, or online peer support groups. Not Yahoo Answers, though, ok?
Ok, here goes:
Goal 1: Increased customer engagement on posts: 25% increase in blog comments, 40% in shares.
Strategy objective: engagement. Ugh. My first thought is, “Engagement?! Why did I pick such a goddam squirrely goal?”. My second thought is, ok, if you want something from your readers, ask them!
- So, in all blog posts, we will ask for comments and shares
- We can research the old posts we did and see which ones got the most engagement, and see if we can pick out any trends that we might be able to replicate
- We can tell our readers, via social media, about our goals, and ask them to help in the task
- We can encourage engagement by offering prizes and rewards for shares
- We can reach out to our most influential fans (using a tool like Buzzsumo) and ask for help
- We can examine the tools on our blog for sharing and commenting, and make sure the process is very easy
- We can read posts and articles on increasing blog comments and make a hit-list of techniques to try
Ok, once more, let’s try to form these into nice, official, strategic-looking tasks. You'll also need to schedule them and block off time to ensure they get done. Use your usual task manager or calendar app to do this - but do it now!
- In all blog posts, ask for comments and shares
Add to call to action to all or most posts.
- Research old posts and see which ones got the most engagement, pick out any trends
Research old posts and create hitlist of high-engagement post features (for example length, subject, publication time, images, sharing). Draw possible conclusions and pass to writer to implement.
- Tell readers, via social media, about our goals, and ask them to help in the task
Find “warmest” social media audience and, politely and appreciatively, ask for help. Think about a reward (free yogurt for everyone if we hit the goal!).
- Encourage engagement by offering prizes and rewards for shares
Plan and carry out 4 contests, attached to “star” articles, offering a prize for sharing/commenting etc.
- Reach out to most influential fans (using a tool like Buzzsumo) and ask for help
Investigate tools and assess investment vs. cost. If feasible, contact 10 influencers and schmooze!
- Examine the tools on blog for sharing and commenting and make sure the process is very easy
Spend time examining sharing and commenting features on the blog. Research possible improvements, make list. Comment and share while not logged in to test. Ask a volunteer to comment and share, watch the process and note any problems.
- Read every single last post on increasing blog comments, and make a hit list of things to try
Brainstorm increased comments techniques and schedule 1 new technique to try every month. At end of month, assess and detail (write) results and impressions
Ultimately, creating a strategy is just a matter of having an educated guess as to how you might achieve a goal and then setting yourself some tasks. With time and reassessment, you'll get much better at it.
Unfortunately, this side of strategy doesn’t mean that you can neglect more pedestrian concerns, like scheduling, calendars, promotion and maintenance, but I do see the two aspects as equally important. Start with the “how to achieve the goals” aspect, and you’ll find you have more material to fill in the “when and how to blog” aspect.
Also, bear in mind that goals will usually produce more tasks as you work through them. Reschedule, tidy and expand on tasks after every session, or you’ll risk leaving tasks uncompleted. I use Asana to manage my tasks, and keep it open and update it throughout the day.