Jan 22, 2018

7 Habits of a Highly Productive Content Strategist

by Digital Marketing Institute

Are you constantly immersed in writing content and wondering exactly what it takes to actually get everything organized and used in an effective way across various channels? Do you want to learn more about how blogs and social media can be implemented strategically to convert?

Welcome to the world of the content strategist. These professionals are not only adept at writing and editing; they’re also taking management of content to the next level. Content strategists are logical; high-level organizers focused on developing, distributing, and monitoring content while keeping a keen eye on how effectively each piece of the puzzle fits in with a business’ bigger picture marketing strategy.

What does a Content Strategist do?

A content strategist (or manager) ensures an adequate supply of fresh, relevant content for a business, not just “relevant” in a social sense, but also in an SEO-focused sense. They do much more than just write, they’re integrating all elements of content into the business strategy, forming a baseline for a businesses’ website, next social campaign, and product descriptions, just to give a few ideas.

On top of juggling all of this, they’re also keeping in mind a business’ key goals and strategy while using analytics and reporting tools to refine and re-work the strategy on an ongoing basis. Content strategists and managers really have an obligation to view content “as” data, at least to the extent that it is being used to grow a business; they’re always testing, measuring and refining to see what can work better. A big part of this is a focus on customer relationship-building and product research.

1. The Editorial (Content) Calendar

Content strategy is important because it is the basis of relationship-building and brand loyalty, in other words, content is likely to be the first thing about a company that people see, so it’s important that it’s done well. But it’s not only about quality; it’s also about timing. Part of the strategy will be knowing not only who to share the content with, but also what times of the day and year are most relevant in terms of audience engagement. Thus, a content strategist isn’t only focused on what is being created, but how it’s relating to the audience.

A key part of staying organized and on track with your strategy is creating an editorial calendar, which can be used not only as a schedule, but also to track buyer personas, target markets, key performance indicators (KPIs), and other important factors.

Here are some tips for creating an effective editorial calendar for your content:

  • Develop a list of content topics and title ideas. Test your titles first to make sure they are effective. This can include both repurposed content and new content.
  • Include specifics about each day’s worth of post, including who’s posting what, where, when.
  • Note on the calendar which specific events, promotions and business goals each post is aligned with. This will cue your key call-to-action on each post.
  • Make a note of anything else you are developing that can work in tandem with each topic, such as e-books, courses, etc.

2. Create a Keyword Strategy

If you’re interested in content management, you’ll need to understand how to build an effective keyword strategy. Content managers must encompass effective keyword strategy as they gather and compose content from writers. Keywords will be the main focus as they test, map, inventory, analyze, and research the effectiveness of their content.

There are different ways of conducting research, and if you’re working as a freelancer or in an agency, you’ll find you want to have a strategy that can shift to accommodate various clients. One great place to start to get the gist of keyword planning is Google Keyword Planner, which lets you start with your own and then develops a list of ideas for you.

Buzzsumo is another amazing, free tool that allows content strategists to build and refine keyword-based strategy continually. Simply enter the phrase of your choice, and you’ll immediately see not only the most popular blogs, but also how each is performing on the major social media channels.

3. Have a Pool of Top-Notch Writers

As we enter a new era of social media and content, writers will need to be increasingly skilled at not only providing multimedia content, but also being able to get more in-depth to create relevant, non-sales-focused content that can increase traffic while also genuinely engaging audiences.

Content strategists can benefit from having an accessible pool of good quality writers available to them. Whether the writers are freelance or in-house, they should have a solid grasp on how to write on a range of topics--and well. Currently, the trend in content is towards higher quality, more original, multimedia content. This means that having writers that are capable of doing deep research, knowledgeable about your industry and digital marketing itself, and creating multimedia content, for instance, will be invaluable assets for successful content strategists.

4. Do Business Differently

Traditional sales and marketing are very focused on competition, but in today’s digital marketing landscape it’s actually important that you stand back and home in on what you’re doing well. Of course, you need to know what the competition is doing, but it’s more important that you pay attention to your own process, because everything you do with regards to your own content development and marketing matters.

Today’s digital economy thrives more on collaboration than competition. Everyone is out there sharing each other’s ideas; it’s just the nature of the game. In old-school business and marketing practices, keeping your eye on the prize meant making a sale. But today, it’s much more about audience engagement, building brand awareness, and organic reach. Today’s marketing landscape is much more about offering something genuinely interesting and useful to your digital audience, rather than “pushing” a product.

5. Strategic Diversification

In terms of marketing content, you’ll want to pick and choose a few approaches that work in tandem to ensure optimal results; figuring out exactly how to do this will depend on your specific goals and needs. But the point is that trying to diversify too much, dipping your toes into too many channels, will likely only end up burning you and your team out.

Regarding which directions will be bringing the best result, video, case studies, social media, and infographics are a few examples of things that continue to show high engagement in the B2B markets. It’s important that each platform and content style is streamlined to ensure consistent brand messaging as well.

6. Organize, Collaborate, Create

It’s the job of a content strategist to stay on top of their own game instead of getting wrapped up in petty competition. While Madmen-style squabbling and drama may be appealing to watch on Netflix, in this day and age, there’s much more to benefit from via collaboration, which tends to be the norm in the digital sphere. (Even personal digital assistants from different companies can communicate and collaborate!)

In the interest of organization, collaboration, and creativity, there are plenty of free and inexpensive apps and tools out there that can help any content manager be more productive.

Here are a few examples of apps content strategists and their teams can use to help them create fresh, unique content on the fly.

  • Canva: User-friendly, inexpensive and popular way to create beautiful graphics.
  • Quora: Check in here to help you generate interesting and relevant content ideas specific to your industry. It’s a great way of doing customer research that can inform your strategy.
  • Buffer: Helps you schedule and manage your social media.
  • Tweriod: Helps you figure out the best time of day for Tweets.
  • Slideshare: A simple tool for creating visually compelling slideshows, which are easily compatible with LinkedIn.
  • Trello: Helps you organize everything on cards and collaborate with team members.

7. Fresh Ideas for the Win

Consumers are learning more quickly and experiencing so much more with each internet visit these days, that a great content strategist needs to be on the ball not only with the basic information they’re managing, but also in the way that it’s being presented to the audience.

It may seem daunting to try to have to get your audience’s attention given the wealth of information available to consumers at the touch of a button. But in some ways, this can be part of the fun of being in the digital marketing field.

The more creative you are willing to be, the more of a chance you have of putting a startup company on the map, or helping a small company see unexpected growth in the next quarter. Presenting ideas in fresh ways, say, hiring a specialty animator to create an evergreen animated or illustrated video, can go a long way to making or breaking a business. In the digital economy, the most productive content strategists will absolutely be adept not only at the analytical side, but at using creative problem-solving to come up with fresh ideas to wow their audiences.

Companies that win out in terms of content strategy will certainly stand out in terms of innovation. When you have a product and content that is unique, fresh, and genuinely interesting to your audience, you’ll know you’ve hit home.

Develop a detailed understanding of key social media specialisms including content marketing, and platforms on which you can promote your content with a social media marketing certification.

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