The key to success for anyone producing content is to have a brilliant strategy.
Why? Well, seeding out the right content to achieve a business goal can be difficult if you haven’t done your research first. Understanding what works and what doesn’t can often be make or break for a campaign, so it’s important to execute it properly first time round.
When you look at any successful business, their content strategy (online and offline) has been a key contributor to their success. With great examples coming from Chipotle, Patagonia and Red Bull (to just name three out of a number who are doing it right), brands are getting a lot better at nailing their strategies.
So, let’s a take look at what makes them tick…
Chipotle is a popular Mexican grill chain, and right now they’re doing a great job on the strategy front. Combining social, television and applications, Chipotle stay true to their brand while making the most of various mediums, ensuring their key customer base is as engaged as possible.
For instance, Chipotle recently ran a competition on their social channels, encouraging followers to create a haiku that expressed their love for the restaurant chain.
Using an incredibly simple structure for a competition, followers were encouraged to share their creative efforts, facilitating retweets and shares alike.
Why this works:
Users on Twitter take pride in their tweets. 140 characters to sum up various goings on in life is a challenge, so a 3 lined poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count is certainly something to be proud of. Contributors will understandably want to get their Haiku’s shared, showing off their humour, literary skills and personalities.
LOW INPUT + HIGH ENTERTAINMENT = SHARES.
This is the perfect formula for a social campaign when your brand is as established as Chipotle.
Also, Chiplote has created an app that made has made fast food even faster, enabling users to pre-order their meals before reaching the restaurant. Utilising mobile apps like this is a great way of taking advantage of their customer base’s love of technology: after all, mobile phones are all we ever look at now.
Why this works:
It might seems obvious why an app like this would work, but it’s worth saying anyway: making ‘fast food faster’ is always going to be popular with a society that loves delicious food on the go, and pre-ordering spares us even a short wait behind a queue of other hungry diners. The results speak for themselves: Chipotle app soon reached the top 20 list in the Apple US App Store, snowballing in popularity as it went.
MODERN TECH + BASIC HUMAN NEEDS = MAX USAGE.
This is the perfect formula to ensuring their customer base is as satisfied as possible, and will keep them coming back for more, too.
Patagonia is the brand that goes against the gradient, or at least that’s what some might say. Before the rise of ‘Brand as Publishers’, and the impact of digital within Patagonia’s strategy, Patagonia were dedicating half of their catalogue to long form essays. It’s incredible to see how far the brand has come since making digital a pivotal part of their strategy.
The way they see it is this: either make great content, or sell products. But ultimately, to sell the products, they need to make excellent content, don’t they? With such a variety to cover in terms of outdoor sportswear, the first port of call for Patagonia was Tumblr - creating blogs for climbing, skiing, snowboarding, surfing and more, just to ensure they cover all aspects of their product.
Why this works:
With the use of a mainly image-based platform, customers are now able to enquire about the gear through fellow wearers. Tumblr feels informal and not the least bit ‘salesy’, and is therefore perceived as being a trustworthy source of information.
NO HARD SELL + FIND A PLATFORM THAT SUITS YOUR CUSTOMER = GENUINE INTEREST IN THE PRODUCT AMONGST A DEDICATED COMMUNITY.
Also, Patagonia’s creative director, Bill Boland, has said that reliance on analytics is something that the company will steer clear away from. Instead, they’ll looking ahead to what content they have to play with, where it fits in and how they can best serve their target audience.
However, examining the analytics has proved that customers still do talk about old gear… Again, utilising Tumblr to create a page dedicated to customers’ stories around their items, Patagonia have been creating content to promote products with an awfully long shelf life. For instance, one of their most recent posts highlights gear from as far back as 1973 – amazing!
This energy drink company has come on leaps and bounds since their “…gives you wings” days. With a focus on sports, culture and lifestyle, their mission is to inspire and push to extreme.
Remember Felix Baumgartner’s free fall from space? Well, that was Red Bull. They organised the entire event, and the whole world watched as a man jumped from 128,100 feet above the earth’s surface. Unlike Chipotle, Red Bull were willing to take a risk around launching branded content, but in the most extreme way – they didn’t talk about the fact that they were behind the stunt (aside from putting their logo on his spacesuit and parachute) but all the reputational-credit for what was achieved was given to them.
Why this works:
Red Bull’s approach to their content strategy is not forced. They create what their audience wants. The best thing about their strategy (and Chipotle’s and Patagonia’s too, for that matter) is their commitment to the DON’T PUSH YOUR PRODUCT stance. If your ideas are great and you either inspire or empower your customers, it will do the job.
BE BOLD, BE BRAVE + EXECUTE AN EXTREME IDEA = INTEREST OF THE HIGHEST LEVEL.
Red Bull’s Youtube video of the free fall has garnered over 41 million views, so if that doesn’t prove that this kind of strategy works, we don’t know what will.
Red Bull don’t sponsor events, they create them. By organising and supporting innovative events, they are giving what their audience want in the way of sports and events coverage, yet they get all the kudos and ‘buy-in’ to their brand too. From their F1 affiliation, to the Red Bull ‘Switch It Up’ netball session they recently ran in London, their content strategy makes the most of a series of events to promote their brand in a way that’s unrivalled by other energy drink companies.
So, now that we’ve explored three examples of fantastic strategies, let’s delve into how to create your strategy. It can often be a struggle to know where to begin, but be sure to do all of the following, in this order:
First, ask yourself this important question:
When devising your strategy, are you looking to improve upon your brand’s SEO, or improve brand awareness? Remember, there needs to be a balance. Sometimes it’s not possible to achieve both in one strategy, so consider creating two strategies if you need to.
Then, consider your audience:
Look at your audience’s micro moments and consider the following:
What does your audience want to know?
What does your audience need?
Where do your audience want to go?
If you are looking for something specific – ‘Google assumes’ can be a great help in discovering what users are actually searching for when it comes to micro moments.
Getting to grips with Google’s daily intake of multiple queries can have a massive impact on what you include in your strategy in aiding their journey with your brand.
Also, consider what your keyword research is saying about your audience. What keywords are they using that you could incorporate in your content? Micro moments are centred around these keywords, so any information you can pull from them should be the wireframe for your strategy.
Who are your competitors?
Then consider who your competitors are. With regard to creating the strategy for your brand, look at the following:
Now, here comes the big part:
Most importantly, plan an editorial calendar.
Good content flow is key to any strategy. It’s the only way to ensure your audience are engaging with you, and it will also help to ensure you’re not going to miss out any vitally important subjects or mediums of content throughout the year.
Let’s take a break.
*At this point, it’s important to note that your strategy isn’t just there to bump up sales.
You are working to improve upon your brand’s reputation and position in the industry, and hopefully working to answer questions that your audience has. Above all else, your aim should be to engage.
Now, let’s get back to it…
What is trending in your niche? It’s best to consider which topics are doing well, which content types, and where they’re being published.
Again, take a look at the news, and make use of social media in particular. Look at what hashtags are being used on Facebook and Twitter, and consider how you’re able to implement this within your strategy.
Cover all platforms.
Next, ensure you are covering all platforms for your strategy - social, on page and off page content are all very important, and each needs filling with fantastic ideas if you’re going to produce a well-rounded strategy. All of these are key components to setting out what will be the best for your brand.
Consider these things to help you:
Your strategy needs to reflect your answers, and your content should always fall in line with them too. Think about how to use social media to work towards your goals, and when you’re producing content on and off your page, think about how you’re going to be presented to and perceived by your target audience.
Historically we have always created detailed personas, but you don’t always have to dive in that deep. Different industries will require different ranking factors; what is your audience searching for? The personas you create will never be the same due to their search intentions.
So, create your personas with their generic purpose in mind:
‘The traveller,’ just wants to save and is looking for the cheapest offer to the best places.
‘The big spender,’ isn’t worried about money. He/she is looking for the best product.
‘The thinker,’ is looking for a site to confirm information.
When you’re developing your content strategy, it’s important to consider the user’s intention: if you are looking for outfit ideas for example, you are looking for inspiration, not to shop.
Finally, here at Zazzle we have two ways of sharing our weird and wonderful ideas. If we are working against a specific brief, brainstorming is a handy way of whittling down great ideas into concepts our clients may want to see expanded. For a more generic approach, brain-writing is a great way to go. This can easily end up being a series of 20+ great ideas if we’re holding a big meeting, and after choosing the strongest, we’ll discuss and build upon them for our clients.
The best content strategy only lasts a maximum of 6 months. Reactive work and general goings-on in life can change the way your strategy works. The things that were relevant might not be so relevant 18 to 24 months down the line, so never spread yourself thin for the sake of completing a strategy that could potentially go out of date. Revise it often, and don’t be afraid to move away from it if it’s looking outdated.
Tools for your strategy:
Take a look at our Digital Marketing Toolbox to discover more about these tools (and plenty of others). We use them when we’re creating our content strategies here at Zazzle.
Sign up for our monthly newsletter and follow us on social media for the latest news.