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How to Develop a Content Strategy in 2023

12 minutes read
September 15, 2023
How to Create a Content Plan

Picture this: your closet is overflowing with clothes. Dresses, shoes, accessories; you name it, you’ve got it. But every time you need to dress up, there’s that daunting question, “What should I wear?” Your digital content is a lot like that overflowing wardrobe. Packed to the brim, but without a clear plan, it’s just chaos.

Why Do We Even Need a Content Strategy?

Imagine heading to a winter party in beachwear. Sounds out of place, right? In the digital space, our content behaves similarly. Each platform, each audience segment, demands its own ‘outfit’. That’s where a content strategy comes into play.

You might be thinking, “Do I even need a game plan for all this content stuff?” Well, considering that only 40% of B2B marketers actually have their content strategy scribbled down somewhere, you’re not alone. But trust me, having a roadmap can save you from a lot of head-scratching later on.

Here’s the deal: The content game has changed loads over the years. It’s not just about putting stuff out there anymore. It’s about knowing what your audience wants and giving it to them. And let’s not even get started on social media – because that’s a whole other ball game. But don’t sweat it; with the right content plan, even social media can be a breeze.

So, if you’re up for some tips and tricks on making sense of your content and nailing that social media game, stick around. We’re about to break it down, step by step. Let’s roll!

What is content planning?

Imagine you’re setting out on a road trip. You wouldn’t just hop in the car and drive without any direction, would you? In the world of digital marketing, content planning acts as your road map, guiding you towards your desired destination: your marketing goals.

The Necessity of a Content Marketing Strategy for Marketers

Ever had that panic moment, staring at your screen thinking, “What on earth should I post today?” Or maybe you’ve flipped between your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, totally lost on what fits best where? Trust me, we’ve all been there.

So, Why Do We Need a Game Plan?

  • Wave Goodbye to ‘Uh-oh, What to Post?’: With a bit of planning, you’ll always have a bank of cool stuff ready to share. No more last-minute scrambles!
  • Every Platform’s a Different Party: Think of it this way: You wouldn’t wear beachwear to a formal dinner, right? Each social media platform is kind like a different type of party. With a plan, you’ll always have the right “outfit” (or post) ready.
  • What’s Hot with the Crowd?: With a bit of strategy, you can figure out what your audience is totally vibing with. No more guessing games.
  • No More Oops-I-Forgot Moments: With a content calendar, you’re always ahead of the game. It’s like having your outfits picked out for the week. Smooth, right?
  • It’s All About the Numbers: A little secret? With a proper plan, you can actually see what’s working and what’s not. No more throwing spaghetti at the wall!
  • Team Harmony: Think of it as everyone dancing to the same tune. Whether it’s your sales or marketing peeps, everyone’s on the same page, making magic happen.

No matter how big or small your gig is, content’s your secret sauce. And like any great recipe, it’s all about having the right ingredients in the right order. So, instead of winging it, why not whip up a plan? It’s easier than you think and makes the whole content game a breeze!

How to create a content plan

Believe it or not, content planning is pretty straightforward. It’s all about pinpointing and ranking topics that align with your game plan. After that? Just slot them into your schedule and decide who’s on the job.

Ready to break it down? Let’s dive in!

Getting Started with Your Content Plan

Ever tried whipping up a new dish without a recipe? Sure, it’s a fun adventure, but let’s face it, it’s a hit or miss! Similarly, diving into content without a strategy is like cooking blindfolded.

So, what’s this “content strategy” everyone talks about?

Think of it as a chat between friends. It’s you explaining why you’re making this content, who you’re making it for, what kind you’re churning out, and where you’re going to share it.

And guess what? It’s simple. No need for fancy terms or jargon. Just clear, straightforward answers to basic questions.

Your content marketing needs a clear mission. Creating content without a goal in mind? That’s like baking a cake without knowing why. Oh, and while we’re on it, let’s make sure those goals are SMART:
Screen Shot 2023 09 15 at 3.07.45 PM
Digging Up Those Juicy Topics

So, where do most folks fish for topic ideas? They usually peep at what’s hot and trending on their chosen platforms.

Say you’re diving into the TikTok or YouTube realm. You’d probably type in a topic and see which ones are racking up the views. But here’s the twist – just because a video is popular doesn’t mean it’s organically so. Some of those views? Yep, they might’ve come from ads.

So, here’s a golden tip: Even if you’re all about TikTok or YouTube, give Google keyword research a whirl. Why? Because folks tend to Google similar stuff across all platforms, and Google’s keyword tools are on point with their data.

Kick-starting your keyword journey is easy-peasy:

  • Pop over to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.
  • Toss in the domain of a buzzing industry blog.
  • Head to the ‘Top pages’ report.

And voila! You’re on your way.

Who’s Your target audiences

So, who are you talking to? After you dive deep into content creation, let’s identify your audience. 

Many businesses align this with their buyer or social media personas. And if your brand vibes with multiple groups? Cool, just match your content topics accordingly to each tribe.

New to this? No worries. We’ve got a treasure trove of resources to help you out:

  • Discovering your peeps on social media
  • Demographics decoded: Crafting a strategy for your brand
  • Powering up engagement using social media personas
  • Finding your fanbase on Instagram

Identify the best content channels

Got some channels where your audience hangs out and loves engaging? That’s your golden ticket to kickstart your content strategy. Remember those trends from your audit? They’re like your breadcrumbs guiding you to the perfect spot.

Need a deeper dive? Peek into your website’s analytics. Where are your visitors dropping in from? A catchy newsletter? A sizzling social media post? Or a simple search? Pinpointing their routes helps you channel your energies right.

Heads up! Over half the users wave goodbye to brands that serve them yawn-worthy content on social. Still scratching your head on what to post where? Check out Sprout’s treasure chest of tips on tailoring content for each social platform.

  • Determine budget, tools & resources

Let’s Talk Budget, Tools, and Team

  • Money: How much can you spend?
  • Tools: What tools do you have?
  • Team: Who will help you?

You can make great content from anywhere, even your living room! Check what you’ve got and see if you need anything else.

Here’s what you might need for your content:

  • Creators: Who’s making the content?
  • Platform: Where will you post it?
  • Leader: Who checks and manages everything?
  • Trackers: How will you see if people like your content?

Create a content calendar

Think of it like this: a content calendar is your roadmap for content adventures. It’s where you sketch out all your content plans. At its core, it’s about noting down what you’re sharing and when. But let’s level it up! A kickass calendar can tell you:

  • How each content piece is progressing
  • Where you’re sharing it
  • Who’s the mastermind behind it
  • How it’s performing once it’s live

And guess what? There are loads of calendar templates out there, just waiting for you. Or, if you like, just stick with a social media planner or even a good ol’ spreadsheet. Whatever floats your boat!

Time to Hit the ‘Publish’ Button & Spread the Word!

Alright, once you’ve got that calendar all filled out and your content is all shiny and ready, it’s showtime! 

Time to send it out into the world on those platforms you picked. And if you’re juggling multiple channels, having a tool to see everything from up high? 

Absolute game-changer.

Quick Tip: Sprout’s got this neat tool that’s perfect for us busy bees. You can line up all your social posts in a handy calendar and, wait for it… there’s this cool ‘Asset Library’ to grab your go-to brand pics. Everything in one spot!

And hey, if your content’s getting some serious love, why stop at one share? If it’s evergreen (meaning it’s not tied to a specific time or event), sprinkle it around on other platforms. 

Feel free to jazz it up and share it in different ways. It’s your show!

Track results

Alright, now that you’ve put in all the work, it’s time to see how it’s paying off. And the only way to do that? Dive into the data! Remember those goals we set up front? It’s time to check if we hit the mark.

If you’re looking at channels like newsletters or your website, tools like Google Analytics are your best friends. But for social media? You’ll want something more specialized. That’s where tools like Sprout come into play.

For instance, Sprout’s Post Performance Report is like getting a report card for each content piece you put out there. Likes, views, and how much people chatted about it – you’ll see it all.

And if you’re really into details, there are reports for individual platforms too. Like, there’s one just for Instagram that shows you which posts got the most love and how your overall content game is faring. Let’s keep our content game strong! 

Content plan template

If all of this seems a bit much, you can try out my easy-to-use content plan template. It’s completely free to download and can be filled out in just a few minutes.

Download it as a Google Doc.

Building a killer content marketing plan does require some patience, a dash of creativity, and a sprinkle of organization. But hey, with the right steps and tools (like the ones I’m sharing here), setting up your game plan can be smooth sailing. Dive in, and let’s make your content pop!

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