Where am I and how many?
There is a wide range of channels for content distribution. Not least because there are already some established platforms in the social media sector that are hard to ignore. Facebook, YouTube, Xing, Wikipedia, Twitter and Instagram all offer custom content publishing options. And do you actually need Snapchat?
Which channels fit a brand is basically decided by the personas. Because no matter how good the content is that you publish and promote with an enormous budget – if the target group does not use this channel, you simply cannot reach these people. Period.
The Little Channel Check
So first you think about where the personas are. The next step is to check whether these channels are suitable for the planned strategy. In content marketing, the golden rule is that content determines the channel. Think about where your expertise is in good company. Multipliers are a valuable gage for this: The more bloggers, opinion leaders and journalists from your own topic fields are active in a channel, the more valuable this channel is.
Whether someone has influence can be derived from the profile: How long has each profile existed? How much content was posted on it? Does that quality spread? Is there much interaction with others? And: Does this person have a considerable reach? The multipliers can later also become important for content seeding, i.e. strategic publication!
The technical possibilities should not be ignored either. If you rely on videos in your content strategy, you of course need platforms on which you can post videos. Equally important are social networking practices. You can also embed funny videos and pictures on Twitter, but the overall demand for information and news content is higher here. Good text tweets have more chances than purely text-based Facebook posts, for example. This is explained by the history of Twitter. After all, only text messages were possible in the first few years.
The Right Mix for the Start
Studies have shown that European companies use on average more than seven different channels. More than a quarter of companies (26 percent) even plan to increase to at least ten channels. Behind this is a coordination effort that is difficult to estimate without experience.
Basically, it is smart to start somewhat manageable. The best way to start is to concentrate on providing your own channels with good content on a regular basis.
The website is the central airport that links the well-connected content archipelago. From here the content can move out into the world and visitors get a safe place to land. But also blogs and newsletters are a worthwhile investment for your start into content marketing. This is supplemented by two to three other channels with a large range, which the personas regularly use. This mix is complemented by paid media. If the editorial processes run smoothly after some time, additional channels should be added.
The Channel Plan: Everything under control
A good tool to keep the channels under control in the long term is the channel plan. It defines more precisely how the channels are used in the implementation. The Channel Plan answers the following questions:
Who uses this channel?
If you work with two to four personas, it is quite possible that all personas use one channel. But perhaps you have very different personas who, for example, prefer certain platforms due to their age. For each channel it must be clear who you meet there.
What tonality matches this channel?
The tonality of a text is, so to speak, the atmosphere of conversation that arises during reading. On the Internet, a simple, generally understandable language is to be preferred. But we also need to consider how to deal with foreign words. This is primarily dependent on the target group and the self-image of a company as the sender, but on the other hand there is also a typical tone in certain channels. Blogs, for example, are more opinionated. Twitter is regarded as more fact-based and trenchant, Facebook as an informal infotainment network. Therefore, the language of the content should always be considered.
How often does the channel need fresh content?
The frequency with which certain channels have to updated with content depends on one’s own resources. But if you choose Twitter, for example, and only tweets once a week, you can actually let it go. Because the timing on Twitter is too high for that. Tweets tick through here every second. The service requires daily attention. Also for a blog it is appropriate to create one or two posts a week.
What are the goals and tasks of a channel?
An important question whose answer is strongly related to the general goals of content marketing. For example, if the goal is to increase the number of visits to the website, it is important that the content in the channels generates clicks. It is quite possible that some channels only function as suppliers for the main channel. An upstream goal can be to build up fans and followers in order to be able to generate sufficient range at all. Therefore, the Content Plan specifies quite precisely which action the user is to perform in which channel.
Content Marketing takes time
At this point a voice is often heard: “Can’t you just try it? Like, one or two blog posts and post it on Facebook? And see if that even works?”
Content marketers have a simple answer: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Content marketing takes time to achieve demonstrable success. This is due to various factors.
For example, credibility and trust among the target group do not fall from the sky. It will also take some time to reach a critical mass at all. Only very few companies have a significant reach at the start. While social media channels were previously possible on the side, the reach of the individual postings will be modest. Because Facebook rewards only the good and diligent with a high engagement rate with the fans. Anyone starting content marketing test balloons on this basis cannot expect convincing results. The project is nipped in the bud.
The Master Plan Potential of Content Marketing
If you link your content marketing with an SEO strategy, you have to invest a few months until the websites rank reasonably on Google. Added to this is management, because some processes are required. You have to build a team that develops over time and builds a relationship with a growing audience. This will increasingly improve the quality of the content.
Even if an article or tweet is written quickly in theory, content marketing as a communication tool is anything but a rush job. It develops real potential over time and therefore only makes sense as a long-term measure. In this way, content brings results in different phases and at different levels. Tactical measures can only fulfil the actual goals of content marketing – branding, customer loyalty, expertise – within a (long-term) strategic concept. One could even go so far as to see content marketing as part of the corporate culture: the company relies on transparency, the exchange of knowledge and dialogue on the same level in internal and external communication. Then content marketing is a philosophy and not just a strategy.
Integration of Campaigns
However, if a strategic master plan exists, it is very possible to integrate short-term campaigns into it. The advantage is that you can experiment a little in the ongoing content marketing process. In a campaign you can try out new formats and channels or test whether certain topics are well received by the target group. Despite all the joy of experimentation, however, one should not lose sight of the basic strategy. The consistency of communication is also essential in content marketing.
Another advantage: Campaigns can be evaluated more easily, because with short term planning, target definitions can be much more concrete. The best way to orientate oneself here is to focus on the classical measurement variables from online marketing (KPIs) such as number of visitors, length of stay, downloads and bounce rate. These are easy to understand for individual content marketing measures.
This approach provides reliable information on the effectiveness of individual campaigns and content elements. It is important to set measurable targets early in the planning cycle.
Tactical measures are therefore a good complement within a strategic concept if they are planned as individual campaigns and evaluated both qualitatively and quantitatively.