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The audience in the spotlight: the content plan

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The audience in the spotlight: the content plan

Content marketing, content marketing in English, belongs to the elite of the disciplines of digital communication. Driving a project on the road to success, which means convincing an increasingly demanding client, presupposes good strategy planning from start to finish. Previously we have covered the most important steps to carry out an efficient content marketing strategy. In this article we deal with its core, the content plan ..

If the design of a campaign starts by setting the objectives and defining the target audience to which it is directed, content planning is the executive masterplan that defines the specific measures to be adopted, fixing them in a structured writing plan that coordinates topics, publication dates, distribution channels and those responsible for carrying them out. The development of this editorial calendar is the culmination of this planning process that generally begins with the generation of ideas. Next we reveal the most important steps in the design of a content strategy.

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Index
  1. Generate ideas and define themes
    1. Keep track of trends
    2. Identify frequent searches with Google Suggest
    3. Keep listening
    4. Optimize and? Recycle? old content
    5. The source of the editorial calendar
  2. Resource planning
  3. Preparation of the editorial calendar
    1. What should an editorial calendar include?
    2. Templates for your editorial calendar
  4. Promotion channels: which is the best?

Generate ideas and define themes

This is an essential part of planning, as being able to regularly feed interesting topics to followers requires constantly finding fresh and engaging ideas. This research task, focused on the interests and needs of the audience , is a continuous process that, in fact, belongs to the daily or weekly routine of those responsible for the content strategy. You should not make the mistake of letting yourself be carried away by your own interests, since, if the previously defined target audience finds the content uninteresting, enormous potential is lost, especially with regard to interaction (engagement) and, therefore, within the reach of publications. All the forms of recommendation that followers have (likes, shares) have great value and these are achieved only when you are able to put yourself in the public's shoes and try to understand their problems, their questions and their desires, reacting, of course it is, with the right content. Now, how is this accomplished?

There are different ways to reveal the thoughts and wishes of the target audience. The first thing you might ask yourself is what you are looking for. Similar to the search for keywords in the framework of SEO optimization, when it comes to looking for ideas to generate content, attention must be focused on the questions that the user asks, which are those that he enters in the search engine. To find out what audience concerns are, we can momentarily put the keyword planner aside to find out what other methods can do for us.

Keep track of trends

A fundamental aspect that determines the quality of the content is its timeliness, so one of the central tasks of those responsible for content strategy is to find current topics and generate content around them that contribute a grain of sand to the public debate. These tools, among others, synthesize current trends and the most discussed topics:

  • Google Trends
  • Trending topics and hashtags on Twitter or Facebook
  • BuzzSumo

Identify frequent searches with Google Suggest

Sometimes the simplest way is the most effective. Often, to identify the most common searches for relevant keywords, it is enough to enter them in the Google search bar and note the proposals launched by the Suggest function (autocomplete) of the search engine. Another alternative is to look at the section of? Related searches? that Google shows at the bottom of the results list..

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The Google Suggest function completes the entered keyword with possible thematically related searches

Keep listening

After having identified some trends and perhaps a couple of interesting topics, there are still other methods less oriented to topics of general interest and more to deciphering what it is that moves the target audience. It's about getting to know your audience better by listening to their opinion, reading their comments, and observing them. For this, several strategies are available:

Customer Service

It seems obvious: first you have to listen to the customer. This is where the customer service department (Customer Relationship Management, CRM) comes into play because it is this department that has direct contact with the customer, channeling all their complaints and demands on a daily basis. All this information is an invaluable input for the company, also when it comes to finding topics for the content strategy and if different formats (tutorials, blog entries, videos) are used to react to their questions and concerns, get added value for the customer. It can also work well to actively ask for proposals for improvement, as well as to probe the opinion of the clientele through surveys, interviews and reviews, generated, for example, in an Email Marketing campaign.

Social networks

We must not forget the potential clientele, whom we find on social networks. This is the best source for audience opinions. There are a large number of tools that allow you to monitor the different channels and identify the most popular debates and topics. Once you've found relevant topics, don't be afraid to include them in your content plan.

Influencer

Another strategy is to identify influencers and opinion leaders in your subject area. The so-called influencer marketing is based on collaboration with figures from public life, bloggers or journalists to make them ambassadors for the brand itself. However, before actively integrating influencers into corporate communication, it is also worth examining whether they have published reports on their own products and what can be gleaned from these tests. Can the results be transformed into consistent content? How is the community reacting and how could this reaction be used for its own benefit?

Optimize and? Recycle? old content

When looking for topics, we must not forget that existing content that can still be updated with very little effort, adding new aspects, or that that, without losing currency, can be published in a different format on other platforms: while it is being published an entry in the corporate blog, on other platforms an infographic, a whitepaper or a video on the same topic may appear.

The source of the editorial calendar

All these points of contact of the consumer with the brand or the product are the impulse of the content strategy, but there are other occasions in which it is also possible to find inspiration for new topics:

  • While reading industry magazines
  • By examining a calendar of events (trade shows, congresses, etc.)
  • Analyzing the competition
  • Observing the company itself (history and culture)

While searching for topics, it can be said that there are no limits, but it is advisable not to distance oneself from the objectives and brand positioning, aspects already defined at the beginning and that determine the overall strategy of the campaign. The result of this previous work is a varied collection of topics that can be used at any time, but we must not forget that the final objective of this phase is not this, but the strategic planning of resources and the creation of a editorial calendar.

Resource planning

An editorial calendar rarely works well without good resource management. This consists, above all, of:

  • Clearly distribute responsibilities : who deals with what issues?
  • Set the pace of posts : when and on which channels do you post? The frequency of publications on the different platforms depends on the objectives of the campaign.
  • Specify the tasks of those responsible : Who is in charge of developing improvised content in the short term? Today it is more important than ever to know how to react in real time to current events and comment on current events in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Prepare for critical situations : in times of? Shitstorms? o reputation crisis, it is essential to know how to react quickly. Apart from exceptional crises, also in the day-to-day community management plays a central role, responding swiftly to comments and questions. In this regard, developing communication guides offers many advantages, since, in a pressure situation, they serve to know how to react without losing sight of the strategy.

During resource planning, the question of the personnel required to develop a content strategy is often raised in the corporate sector, because the purpose of the writing plan is precisely to generate the content and distribute it through the agreed channels. If internally there is not enough staff, deciding to delegate this work to third parties is of great importance. Normally, companies have the capacity to do this internally, but there are times when, depending on the sector, it is worth considering whether an external agency or other type of service provider could deliver content in the desired quality.

Preparation of the editorial calendar

The planning itself of the content to be published is the step that culminates in the generation of ideas and the projection of resources. A well-structured writing plan has several missions, including that of ensuring organization, timing, transparency, and commitment, and to achieve this consistency, the collection of ideas must first be structured and categorized. In this process, it is useful to orient yourself by these four cardinal points that we pose in the form of questions:

  • Is the topic relevant to my goals and my strategic orientation?
  • Based on what objective is the subject focused?
  • Which of my buyer personas do I address?
  • At what point of contact in the customer journey is the topic inserted?

To solve this last question, the so-called customer journey map or customer journey map is very useful, with which it is possible to examine the various phases that constitute the purchase decision process and identify the main points of contact between the customer and the brand , points on which the content marketing strategy is based. If you want to delve into this topic, don't miss our article on customer journey mapping in our digital guide.

The result of all these reflections and decisions, both theoretical and strategic, is specified in the drafting of an editorial calendar, with which the operational phase is passed.

What should an editorial calendar include?

The editorial plan must include clear instructions, set tasks and responsibilities, and include publication and delivery dates. The ideal format is the calendar to use because it allows a global vision to be obtained that is much more intelligible than that which would be achieved with a simple list with dates, allowing the most important appointments and events to be included in parallel. This content calendar is developed, as a general rule, to cover a certain lapse of time, which, depending on the type of company, can range from 4 weeks to 3 months.

A detailed planning of all tasks and responsibilities generally contains:

  • Publication dates
  • Most important topics (optionally with headlines, keywords, audience, CTA)
  • Editors in charge (optionally including required authorizations, due dates or task status)
  • Content format (guide, news, manual, survey, video tutorial, photo gallery, etc.)
  • Distribution channels : where is the content published?

Sometimes, depending on the communication strategy, it may be convenient to also indicate the voice that will be used when addressing the audience, which will depend on who you want to send the content to, as well as the point of contact at the customer journey for which the content is written.

Templates for your editorial calendar

When it comes to getting down to work, it is common to wonder how this plan is put into practice, how it is possible to gather all the relevant information in one place and how the calendar is made available to all those involved.

A system widely used in the corporate sector is the classic Excel spreadsheets or its equivalent in Google Drive, which allows the simultaneous work of several people, but, often, preparing and maintaining a structured document with different functions and references is a challenge, losing the global vision easily. This is why some companies and bloggers specializing in marketing offer free downloadable templates that can be very useful.

Vilma Núñez , a specialist in digital marketing blogging, offers on her blog, in addition to ebooks, infographics and a multitude of introductory and specialization courses, a free template to create an editorial calendar for social networks. If what you are looking for is a plan for the content strategy of a blog, the Instituto de Economía Digital de Madrid, ESIC , makes available a free editorial calendar on its blog. In the Hubspot platform you have the possibility to also download a calendar template in English to plan the publication of content on a blog. And if you wish, you can use the large number of professional tools that add support to the global strategy to the content plan.

Promotion channels: which is the best?

Deciding the channels through which the content will be distributed is another central aspect and quite complex in view of the mistakes that many companies still make. Most of them focus on promotion through their own channels , the so-called owned media, but, even when contact with customers is essential to strengthen the relationship with the brand, those potential customers that remain are often neglected. outside its area of ​​influence. To get their attention, it may be convenient to use paid ads on social networks (sponsored posts on Facebook) or search engines (Google AdWords), in such a way that the radius of influence of the brand or product is increased.

The secret of the success of a content marketing strategy consists in the strategic coordination of the different media, which should already have been defined at an early stage of the global process, because, ultimately, the characteristics of the media determine the type of content that is most important. adequate: in blogs the text format has more weight, while channels such as YouTube or Instagram require more visual formats.


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