Welcome to the third installment of the four-part Summer Super Fun Digital Marketing Spectacular with Ian Anderson Gray! Last week we brought you the first part of Understanding the Mythical Beast of Content Marketing, this week we’re going to take a look at tips and tools for content marketing planning, inspiration and promotion.
Planning Your Content Marketing
Sometimes we are so excited about something it’s hard to slow down a bit and do the planning and leg work first. This happens a lot with businesses jumping into content marketing. They’ll start social media accounts and creating content without taking the time to plan it out and wonder why, months later, that they’re not seeing any results.
As with most things in life there needs to be some planning and preparation before success can happen. Heaven knows that many an argument would have been avoided if my husband and I had mapped places out BEFORE we got in the car and started driving 😉
Ian believes that sometimes it’s a good idea to just “unleash your inner creativity” but ultimately planning is essential, here are a few reasons why:
- It saves time in the long run by avoiding the last minute rush.
- Looking at previous content and researching what has done well will help improve your chances at creating content you audience will be interested in.
- It helps keep you focused on your goals for content marketing.
- It lessens the stress associated with content marketing.
Tools can be very helpful in getting your content planned out. You can use something as simple as a hand written list, a calendar, a spreadsheet or get a little more high tech and use tools like Trello or Evernote.
One system I like is a white board and post it note system. When I have lots of projects going on at the same time it helps me stay organized plus gives me a physical visual reminder. Brandy Agerbeck calls this a “tangible to do list.” The entire video below form Brandy’s Ted Talk is great but the explanation of the to do list starts at 6:00.
No matter which tool or system you use to help you plan your content marketing, choose the one that works best for you.
As a part of your planning you should include ideas for the topics of your content as well as the frequency you’ll be producing that content. Of course, once these plans are made, work and life might get in the way. Good thing the plan can always be changed. Consider it one of the living and flexible parts of you business.
For my clients, I recommend having a list of topic ideas ready to go. When they are ready to create their next piece of content they don’t have to spend time coming up with ideas, the have a list to choose from. The number of ideas you’ll need will depend on how often you’ll be publishing and the type of content you’re creating.
Many “experts” out there will say that you must publish content a certain number of times per week or per day to be successful. Bah! Nobody creates content like you do or knows your businesses as well as you do. Work on a schedule that works best for you.
The schedule you decide on now doesn’t have to be the one you keep forever. When I first started Oh So Pinteresting, I listened to one of those “experts” and was blogging three times a week. I was also taking care of four kids and working a full time job. After a few months I was burned out!
Something had to change. I couldn’t quit my job yet, the kids’ needs weren’t going to change anytime soon but I could cut back on blogging so I did. Guess what happened? I was less stressed and it freed up time to do other things like get new clients and build my business.
Consistency is important especially for podcasts and blogs. However, it’s not everything. My publication schedule has shifted a lot from when I first started. I used to beat my self up when I missed a week of podcasting or blogging. Not anymore!
I believe it is important to be as consistent as possible but it should be kept in perspective. Sometimes there are more important things to spend your time on such as your health, your family and your current customers. If your business will fail because you missed publishing a couple of blog posts or podcasts, how strong is your business to begin with?
How to keep your content interesting
Some businesses make the mistake of using their blog as a kind of diary. They’ll write about what’s going on in the office or how much fun they had at a trade show. Their customers don’t care!
Ian emphasizes the importance of sharing the businesses story without being boring. The stories should share information about the business but be interesting to the reader. For example, when writing about a trade show visit also include some information about what was learned that would be helpful to the customers such as new industry trends. What matters most is that you give value in each piece of content you produce.
Keep the ideas flowing
After creating the initial plan of your content marketing you might find yourself at a point where you’ve run out of ideas. Below are a few places to look:
- Comment section of your blog
- Questions asked of you on social media
- Questions you wish your customers would ask about your products or services
Pinterest is also a great place to find ideas. I found this great image from Pauline Cabrera of Twelveskip with over 70 ideas for blog posts titles. Any one of these could be a great starting point for a blog post, video or podcast episode.
Promoting your content
Once a blog post, podcast episode or video has been created, it then needs to be share with the world on social media. Ian finds this repetitive task something that is perfect for automation to help save time and energy. But he strongly warns against automating engagement, I totally agree! For example, NEVER automate thanking someone for following you.
When I first started blogging I was hesitant about sharing my content on social media. I though it was pushy and rude to tweet, pin and post my own stuff. WOW was I wrong! If I didn’t let people know I had published it how were they supposed to know??? Bad move.
I now pin, tweet and post my content as soon as it’s published and a few times afterwards. I’m careful not to be overly self-promotional but I can’t be so arrogant to expect people to always watch my website for my next piece to be published either.
There are scheduling tools that make this part of promoting your content super easy.
- Pinterest- Ian and I both use Tailwind
Use what you have
While Ian and I both recognize the value of creating new awesome content, don’t discount the work you’ve already done. As long as it’s still relevant, it’s a good idea to re-share content that was published weeks or even months ago. You’ve probably added new followers on social media and they might have missed some of your older content. Long time followers might not remember the older stuff and even if they do they probably wouldn’t mind seeing it again every once in a while in their feed.
You can even use old content to create new content. Checkout my article How to Bring New Life to Old Content with Pinterest for ideas.
Keep your website safe
Some automation tools have plugins that can be added to your website. Before adding any plugin, you want to be sure that it’s from a reliable source and isn’t likely to leave your website vulnerable to hackers.
As a safety measure Ian likes the iThemes security plugin. Though it won’t make other plugins more secure, this plugin will make it much more difficult for hackers to break into your website overall. As another safety measure, Ian also recommends keeping your existing plugins up to date as much as possible.
Coming form previous experience, only update one plugin at a time. I once made the mistake of updating several at once and caused some pretty big problems on my website. I had to delete each one then reinstall each one individually to find the one causing the problem.
Connect with Ian
Ian Anderson Gray is a digital Marketer, social media consultant and a web developer. He’s also a great singer 🙂
Be sure to come back for the next week to listen to the last episode of this series!
Week 3: Content Marketing Part 2 – How to create and distribute your content (You are here)
Week 4: Digital Marketing Productivity and Timesaving Tools
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