As we kick off a new year, this is the perfect time to create a new content strategy for all of your communication channels.
Why does your content need a strategy?
A content strategy is more than just an editorial calendar or a series of social media posts—it's a comprehensive approach to creating, publishing, and managing all of the content you create. It's also an essential tool of proactive communication planning.
Usability.gov defines a content strategy as focusing "on the planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content," with the goal of creating "meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content." Essentially, it's the "the piece of your marketing plan that continuously demonstrates who you are and the expertise you bring to your industry."
"Content strategy is important because, in a world where there is a lot of noise, it can be hard to break through and reach your audience. With an effective content strategy, you can ensure your constituents will receive the right message at the right time. NASTAD's content strategy focuses on relevant, interesting, and engaging moments that resonate with our audiences." - Howard Winchester, Communications Associate at NASTAD.
A sound strategy can help you increase the effectiveness of your content by providing a guide to how, when, and on what topics you'll be creating content. It can also help you use your internal resources (such as staff time) more effectively.
Tips for developing your strategy
Every organization has different goals, needs, and audiences. But there are some best practices that work for organizations of all sizes and budgets. When writing your content strategy, remember to:
- Define your communication goals.
- Conduct audience research. It's critical to understand who your target audiences are and what they want and need from you.
- Document how you will talk about your organization. How do you describe your value and your key messages? What do you most want your audience to know about you?
- Determine which channels you'll use to reach your target audiences. This is a good time to review your current communications channels to see if they are still aligned with your audience's preferences.
- Decide what content you'll create and in what formats. There are many options, including blogs, social media posts, videos, and infographics. Just be sure that the formats you choose reflect the preferences of your target audience(s).
- Identify who in your organization will create content and in what timeframe. Remember to schedule time for your final reviewer to approve the content before it's published.
- Determine a publishing schedule and any tools you'll use to post your content.
- Decide how you'll measure success and which metrics to track.
- Identify how you will share what you learn from this process with colleagues and/or stakeholders.
- Document how you'll review your content in the future. You will need to create a plan to identify outdated content and update or archive.
When it's time to implement your strategy, don't forget these helpful tips from Usability.gov on creating effective content:
- Content should reflect your organization's goals and user's needs. Consider conducting market research, user research, and analyzing web metrics to learn about your users' needs.
- Understand how your users think and speak about a subject.
- Communicate to people in a way they understand. Use plain language, to ensure your content is accessible to everyone.
- Be useful, keep your content up to date, and remain factual. When new information becomes available, update your content or archive outdated material.
- Make your content consistent. Follow language and design style guides to make your content reliably easy to read and understand.
- Make your content easy to find. Have you checked with your users to be sure your website is easy to navigate? Are you optimizing your content for external search engines? These things can have a great impact on whether your content reaches the people who need it.
If you need help writing, refining, or evaluating your content strategy, make a Virtual Office Hours appointment or stop by one of HIV.gov's social media labs at an upcoming conference. More details on our social media lab schedule coming soon!