You have a content strategy right? Or do you just create content, write blog posts and share articles whenever you feel inspired? If you’re doing the latter, you need a smarter and more efficient way of working. A content strategy will help your business plan, develop and organise more relevant content. Don’t worry if you don’t have a content strategy yet. It’s easy to get started. All you need to do is follow these five simple steps: #1. Research Your Content Research now, so you can save time later on. Start by gathering content people are producing in your industry. You could search on Twitter and other social networks for relevant discussions, read trade magazines and subscribe to industry blogs. And take a few minutes to configure Google News Alerts for updates about your products, brand or industry. Your team can also use Facebook Insights and Google Analytics to examine your website and social media and to track where visitors are coming from and what they are searching for. I like Social Crawlytics. This is a free tool, which you can use to identify your competitor’s most shared content on their blog channel. This is a great way of finding out what type of content your target audience likes. Similarly, your team can use RSS feeds to subscribe to relevant blogs in your industry for ideas. E-commerce and social media tools like HootSuite are also useful because you can monitor what people are saying in real time and respond to their feedback accordingly. #2. Plan Your Content You and your team should develop an editorial agenda to steer your content for the next few weeks or months. This calendar can help you identify themes and decide if you want to produce audio, video, text and photos. If you use WordPress, the Editorial Calendar plugin can help you plan content in advance. Alternatively, you can use a spread sheet. In it, identify content by: theme date of publication resources required author media deadline At this stage, you should also be assembling internal documents, statistics, reports, stats and talking points, which are OK for publication. #3. Produce Your Content Your content should do at least one of four things: it should educate, inform, entertain on inspire readers. It takes several hours to write a professional blog post or article. A video or podcast takes longer and requires more resources and people. When your business develops a new partnership or launches a new product or service, write about this. And it’s sometimes worth interviewing stakeholders and/or using soundbites from industry figures; this will add authority to any digital commercial messages. Several hundred words are more than enough to engage any reader; if it is too long it will lose the interest of readers. Include relevant keywords and search terms in your articles ALT tags in your picture. And feature supporting pictures and multimedia clips. Don’t forget to incorporate internal and external links to sections on your website, but if your article is overly promotional, it will lose its value. At the end of a piece, include a strong call to action. Examples include: subscribe to my newsletter or register your account now. If you have a small team, let an article or clip gestate for a day or two before publishing it. This gives you time to run a fresh eye or ear over the piece and edit as necessary. #4. Publish and Share Your Content Once you start publishing content, establish a routine and stick to it. It’s better to stick to a routine of publishing one blog post every week than it is to publish three times one week and not at all the next. Again, this is why your editorial calendar is so important. When you publish your content, shorten links for social media using Bit.ly. You should then tweet these links using relevant hashtags several times throughout the week. And share these shortened links on our company’s Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn pages. If you have a newsletter, use this to promote your content. If you don’t, you can set up a free account with a provider like MailChimp. I can’t recommend enough the importance of using email to communicate with customers. If you’re struggling for ideas, read 3 Ways To Engage Your Customers Through Email Newsletters The goal of any good content strategy is to turn readers into advocates for your brand or business. #5. Track and Recycle Your Content Your audience likes to see, read and listen to content that evolves. You can reference content, link to it, and expand on it in future works. And it’s OK to turn a blog post into a SlideShare or social media campaign. Recycling content has the added advantage of increasing traffic and freshening up your digital presence. Don’t be afraid to go back to old content and update it either. Remember, website content is dynamic not static. Before you create anything else, examine yours to see what types of content customers and stakeholders are interested in. If, for example, you used Bit.ly, you can append a Bit.ly link with the “+” symbol and see where and how your content was shared. To see what I’m talking about visit https://bitly.com/1sMwUQ4 and then visit https://bitly.com/1sMwUQ4+. And if nobody liked your content, write a guest blog post for websites like Tweak Your Biz. This way you can tap into established audiences and get free feedback. Now that you’ve created a content strategy, why not give it a boost? These five simple steps will help you develop a content strategy and produce digital content that makes more sense for your business. Do you have any tips for creating a content strategy? Please let me know in the comments section below. 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