Over the past two weeks, we have taken a close look at the various types of digital content you can use to leverage your brand’s message online. We have evaluated written content types and how they can be used to improve your SEO and add value to your audience. We also looked at visual media types and how they can be used to drive social sharing and user engagement. This week, we are going to discuss what to do with the content now that you’ve created it.
With digital content, it is not simply a matter of if you create it they will come. There’s a crucial step needed with distribution, which involves a heavy amount of strategy to ensure you’re doing it right. With all the distribution channels, directories and social networks available to you, it can be very difficult to know exactly which ones you should be using. Likewise, even if you have established which channels to use, knowing when your audience is online is an extra element to factor into your distribution strategy. In order to maximize the exposure for your content, you have to define where your audience is, when they are there and how frequently to talk to them. In this post, we will walk through the steps you can take to help you identify those answers and build your distribution strategy accordingly.
Step One: Identify Your Target Audience
This step is essentially getting back to Marketing 101. Defining your target audience is a matter of simply stating, which persons or businesses you would most like to see using your products or services. There are a number of basic demographics you need to outline in order to get a clear image of who your target audiences are. There are also a few key identifiers you need to establish when you’re looking at defining your target audiences specifically for digital content.
- Geographical location
- Relationship status
- Family status
- Sites they likely visit
- Media consumption
Step Two: Create Personas Based on Target Audience Details
Once you have established the specific details of your target audience, you need to create personas to get a better understanding of who your audience actually is. Using the data you have collected, try to carve out 2 to 3 distinct personas for the types of people you are targeting. Make these personas as relatable as you possibly can. You want to give them names, job titles, hobbies, etc. If you can think of someone you know personally who fits the persona you’re building, connect with them and ask them to help you build out the specifics of the profile. Ask them which social media sites they use most often and why. Also ask them to share with you what types of content they enjoy most. For instance, do they love sharing great recipes for baked goods on Pinterest or encouraging their friends to read really great articles they found on Facebook?
Step Three: Understand Social Networks and How They are Used
Not all social networks are created equal. While there are certainly many people who are active on all of their major social accounts, each network has its own specific statistics around who uses the platform the most and what day and time experience the most engagement. Most of this data is readily available if you do your research.
Here are a few of our favourite resources for social media statistics:
- Business Insider – 2014 Report of Demographic Trends for Every Social Network
- Quick Sprout – What are the Best Times to Post on Social Media
- Pew Research Center – Social Networking Fact Sheet
Looking back at the various types of digital content we previously discussed, think about what your content marketing strategy is going to look like. Realistically what content can you and should you create for your industry. Knowing this allows you to create a “content first” strategy, where you choose social networks based on the content you’re going to create and the value you can provide first and foremost. Once you have established which social accounts you will be able to develop content for, then you can begin to research them and gather data on who is using the social network and when.
Step Four: Match Your Brand and Personas to Social Networks
Now that you have collected data on who is using which social networks and when they are most likely there, take a close look at the personas you’ve created for your target audience and match them to the social media data points. Where does your target audience spend their time online? What types of content do they engage with the most and when are you most likely to reach them? This will never be an exact science, as there will always be a variety of online behaviours within your audience. However, gathering data on the various social networks will help you to identify the best possible places to engage your target market.
While it is important to know where your audience is socializing, it is also vital for you to match your brand to each social network you are considering. Getting back to the “content first” strategy, you need to only engage in a social network that makes sense for your content marketing plan. If you have no intention of developing a schedule of videos, maybe YouTube is not a place for your brand to invest time and energy. One of the worst mistakes a company can make in content marketing is to create content simply for the sake of getting something posted. Make sure you have quality content planned first and choose appropriate social marketing channels to support it.
TIP: Ask yourself, what value can you provide to EACH audience on EACH channel.
Step Five: Develop a Social Strategy
With your audience details and content marketing plan in mind, select the networking accounts you would like to use to create your social distribution strategy. A well-developed strategy should look at a variety of factors:
- Time of Day – When is it best for you to share your content on each social channel. Depending on the various personas within your audience, you may determine you have 1-2 optimal posting windows.
- Frequency – How often will you share the same content? Be careful with frequency. While it is a good idea to share content several times, you want to make sure you space out the updates and revise the actual wording of your social posts. Make sure you have other content (original or curated) you are posting as well, so your audience is not seeing the same content twice in a row.
- Consistency – Ensure you create your strategy to be consistent on each social channel. If you plan on posting to Facebook 3 times per week, try to maintain this schedule each week. Having periods of time where your social media is neglected will very likely result in a loss of followers.
- “Content First” – Only post quality content which will add value on each social media network you choose. This rule goes for original content, as well as curated content, you decide to promote.
- Listen and Engage – Be sure to include listening and engaging as major aspects of your social strategy. If you only post and never engage, you are simply talking at your audience, instead of with them. Use hashtags, keywords and competitive data to identify influencers and conversations you would like to engage with. TIP: Always try to respond to a social mention within 12 hours or sooner.
- Don’t Be Everywhere – Only use the social media sites making the most sense for your audience and brand and with which you feel you can be consistent. Again, consistency and quality content is more important than maintaining an account simply as a placeholder.
- Evaluate Your Strategy – Most likely, you will change your strategy on the fly as needed. As you start to develop some engagement points and insights into how your content is performing, you can tweak your strategy to optimize your exposure and grow your audience further. Remember, your audience dictates your strategy. After all, you are on social media to talk with your market and share content which will add value to them.
Next week, we will be looking at measuring the results of your digital content and how it is performing socially. We will be examining the best measurement tools and which data points are the most important to track on a consistent basis.