Content Is (Still) King
The life of an entrepreneur/business owner is incredibly busy. You’re always on the clock, constantly answering questions and providing solutions to issues.
Marketing is a necessary part of any successful business, but sometimes it can feel like the last thing you want to put your money and time towards. However, if you’re looking to grow your small business, you’ve probably done some research and stumbled upon the popular marketing strategy: Content Marketing.
But What Is Content Marketing Anyway?!
Content Marketing revolves around the creation and sharing of various types of material online – pictures, graphics, videos, gifs, blogs, etc. The content doesn’t specifically promote the brand or product, but instead is meant to stimulate the consumer’s interest in its products or services by being informative, relatable, humorous, entertaining, or attractive in some manner.
Like most tasks in running a business, launching and maintaining a content marketing strategy takes a lot of work. Like, a TON of work. Producing video requires filming, editing, graphic development, etc. Publishing blog posts require multiple draft writing, image collection, source citations, etc.
With so much work that goes into releasing content, you’re probably asking yourself…
"WHERE DO I EVEN BEGIN?!"
5 Things You Must Do Before Launching Your Content Marketing Strategy
1. Start Off Small By Launching One Channel Only
There are a lot of digital platforms your brand can be present on, but that doesn’t mean you need to start your content marketing strategy on every single platform available (hold off on creating your Peach account for now).
Instead, choose a platform that plays to your strengths, has a strong amount of active users, and is a platform you feel comfortable with.
Do you like to write? Publish a story (article) on Medium or start releasing blog posts on your website (we released a blog post and an e-book about how to launch a blog – read and download it here!).
Do you enjoy taking and editing pictures? Create an Instagram account to provide an inside look into your business.
BUT THERE’S ONE PLACE YOUR BRAND HAS TO DEVELOP A PRESENCE…
Facebook. Why? Because everyone is on there!
Make sure you create a Facebook Page for your business ASAP – follow this guide from Facebook.
If you already have a Facebook Page for your brand, then launch your Instagram account. It’s the next easiest platform, and your target market is most likely on there too. 😎
SIDE NOTE: For the purpose of brand protection, I highly recommend that you secure your username on all relevant digital and social media platforms. Depending on the name of your business, and the level of growth you are looking to experience, you don’t want to lose out on your business username if you ever decide to activate a new channel -OR- have someone else falsely represent your brand.
For more information about achieving brand consistency, check out my first blog post with RedFork, 3 Crucial Brand Consistency Tips For Social Media.
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
2. Familiarize Yourself With All Popular Platforms
Just because you’ve written a letter before doesn’t mean you’re a good blogger. And just because you post a picture once a day on your Instagram account doesn’t mean you are great at social media. Taking the time to learn what works well for businesses on these platforms is a very important aspect to a successful content marketing launch.
We are lucky to live in a time with so many resources at our fingertips. With constant access to the internet via smartphones and tablets, never underestimate your ability to find the information you are looking for. Google (or Bing – I guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) and YouTube are incredible resources for education – you can learn almost anything through these two channels alone!
One of the greatest things about the culture at RedFork is working in an environment that promotes learning. There’s so much to absorb about business fundamentals, marketing strategies, new platforms and channels – the list goes on and on.
Personal development is incredibly important, and there are so many free resources available to you on the web. Some recommendations to increase your knowledge:
Listen to podcasts while driving or working out
Bookmark websites with interesting blogs
Subscribe to email newsletters (Click here to register for RedFork’s Email Newsletters)
Read magazines and books related to your industry (or listen to audio versions)
Follow social media accounts of businesses/brands you find interesting and admire
Subscribe to YouTube Channels that bring value to your personal and professional life (Click here to subscribe to RedFork’s YouTube Channel)
3. Find The Right Person/People To Manage Your Digital Presence
If you still feel uncomfortable with launching your content marketing strategy after all the research and planning, it is probably time to get some help.
Find a person who is motivated to assist your brand, and is also qualified to assist your business efforts. It may seem like a good idea to get a young intern, employee, or even family member to take over deployment of your brand’s content, but it’s probably not the best solution. Just because someone is active on the platforms you are looking to activate, it doesn’t mean they will be able to execute an effective marketing strategy.
No matter who you turn to for assistance, make sure you continue to play an active role in all of the activities of your brand’s content marketing strategy. Sit down with the team member(s), discuss the tactics and strategies for each platform, set metrics and timelines to achieve various goals, and schedule a regular meeting (at least every 2 weeks) to monitor the progress since the launch.
4. Plan To Expand To Other Platforms
Ok, I know I said you should start small, but that’s only for the beginning. Once your first platform is launched, start preparing for your next platform to go active.
Each platform offers a unique experience catering to different demographics. For example, If your business is targeting 18-24 year olds, you need to seriously consider creating a presence on Snapchat. Instagram is another exciting channel to explore (attracting 55% of all online 18-29 year olds) because of the high-quality images and limited amount of text.
Ultimately, you want to make sure your business has a presence where people are regularly engaging with content. Right now, social media and video are dominating people’s attention.
Starting off small is smart, but make sure you have a plan to broaden your reach even further by expanding to other channels as soon as you can.
“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
— Peter F. Drucker
5. Take Time To Socialize On Your Platforms
The great thing about the internet is that it allows you to connect so easily. You can communicate with people from across the world, with the largest businesses in your industry, and even with your favorite celebrities. As a small business owner, you can directly connect with your ideal client.
Before the internet, small businesses had to make their presence known by purchasing ads in the newspaper, posting flyers, or even going door-to-door. That strategy hasn’t changed; it’s just that the place to activate those strategies has now gone digital. It’s called “social media” because you are able to socialize with people – so go and do that!
Here are some suggestions to get you in the conversation:
Start conversations by asking questions in your posts or captions
Respond to comments and likes on your content (even if they are negative)
Ask people to direct or private message you with questions
Comment on other people’s (or brand’s) posts that you find interesting, helpful, inspiring, entertaining, etc.
To put it simply, go knock on people’s digital doors and say hi. 🙂
One More Thing…
Does this sound like a lot of work? It definitely is.
Having a structure is incredibly important, and creating a content calendar to plan the release of your material will be key in launching your content marketing strategy.
Rather than share my reasons why you should plan ahead, I’ll direct you to the Marketo Blog which provides 5 perfect reasons why you need a schedule for your content. In summary…
It helps you maintain a consistent cadence.
You can map time-sensitive content ahead of time.
You’ll take your social marketing out of a silo.
It serves as a system of record.
It enforces the “411 Rule.”
Having a process in place will provide you and your team with 1) a sense of ease and comfort while going through the first weeks of your launch; 2) a foundation to fall back on when things get tough, and 3) a clear path for scale and improvement as your strategy develops over time. 👍
Well, did you find these tips helpful? I hope so.
If you have any questions or would like to share some other best practices for launching/scheduling/maintaining a content strategy, please leave me a comment below!
How to Schedule Social Media Content for Next Week, Next Month, and Next Year, by Kevan Lee of Buffer
How to Plan a Content Marketing Strategy: A Start-to-Finish Guide, by Justin McGill of HubSpot
Why You Need an Editorial Calendar for Social, by Maggie Jones of Marketo
The Top 10 Benefits of Content Marketing, by Jayson DeMers of AudienceBloom (Contributor to Inc.)