Step 4: Conceiving the Content
This is probably one of the most time-consuming parts of the content creation process.
A great deal of thought needs to go into it – and coming up with ideas isn’t the easiest thing is the world. So where can we get ideas from?
Imitation is the best form of flattery
It doesn’t matter what idea you come up with – it’s been done before. There’s nothing wrong with that – you can guarantee that any content idea you’ve seen which was a success had its roots in other content somewhere else.
Take a look at what competitors are up to. Are they doing well with a certain type of infographic? Are they having a lot of social shares thanks to a certain piece of site content? How can you twist it so that it is appropriate for your brand?
What’s the buzz?
One of the easiest ways I’ve found to create good content quickly is to take a look at what people are chatting about. On Twitter, on Facebook, and in comment strings of already published content.
Having a look at comment strings is often a fantastic way of coming up with content. For example, I found this great informative piece of content on National Geographic:
And this was what people were talking about in the comments:
Commenters may have voiced their own opinions on the discussion, and possibly asked for more information. This is where you can step in. Take advantage of what this particular article has missed, and give the readers what they want.
Content about cat behaviours? Something about cat pyscology? What about an infograpic about all this, or many some kind of online tool to judge how much your cat hates you (dibs on that idea, by the way)? It only takes a little bit of research to get those ideas flowing.
Twitter is also fantastic way of getting the low-down of what’s big at the time. Reactive content is some of the best content as far as getting shares – as long as it’s got a spin to it that no other brands are using at the time. You don’t want it to get lost.
Is it going to be eye-catching?
Design is a big part of good content. We’re humans, and we like to look at nice things. Ugly infographics may take longer to gain traction, even if the content is good.
Equally, non-media rich content (such as blog posts and site content) is unlikely to be read if it’s simply a block of text. If the content in question is designed to answer questions, it’s unlikely that you’re going to retain users unless the content is easy to read, skimmable, and looks appealing with the right colours, font and pictures.
For the sake of retaining users and encouraging interaction, even if it’s just going to be a blog post, include pictures and use a semantic header structure (h1, h2 etc) to break up the text.
Step 5: Briefing
Now that design, development and social are all taken on board, let’s get building.
One of the key things to perfect is how you offer briefs to the members of your team who are addressing each area.
I personally prefer to leave the copywriting brief until after the initial moodboards are created by the designer on a project, so that the copy matches the tone of the design. However, in a creative campaign in which the content is the main driving force (such as an article on a client blog), design would come second. Everyone works differently though.
Key areas to cover in the briefs:
The goals of the content/ campaign (increased site visits? Social shares? Brand awareness?)
What is the tone of the piece?
Why is it relevant to the brand?
Who is the main demographic?
What message is the content/campaign aiming to convey?
What do we want to user’s reaction to this content to be? (interest, reliability, sharing)
What other similiar campaigns/content is there out there to take a guide from?
Any resources to work with?
Where will this content go? (More important to the designer…is this outreach content, or will it sit on the site?)
Sense checking at multiple stages can reduce the cost and effort which needs to go in at the end to make any changes.
Step 6: Monitoring your Content
This is not necessarily a one-month thing – the monitoring of one piece of content could stretch into months, as further opportunities to use it may present themselves. Repurposing content or coming back to a piece of content, perhaps due to seasonality, could always be on the cards.
In any case, you can monitor the performance of your content or campaign quite easily:
An excellent way to gauge the success of a piece of content is measuring the brand awareness via social channels. In this manner, the sentiment of the brand and conversations sparked by it are easily seen by a quick look on Twitter or Facebook pages of your brand.
More in-depth social tools can be used for this – I personally recommend Sysomos, which by use of Boolean string queries can show you how many shares, how many tweets etc your content has garnered, in addition to showing the responding demographic and sentiment (excellent data for use during the conception of the next campaign).
Using Analytics, you see how many visits to a content page have been garnered from organic search. An increase in traffic can be attributed to a campaign or piece of content by analysis of landing page visits.
It’s worth noting that traffic from social media is often a short-term thing, and an initial spike from social media referrals can be expected at the start of a campaign.
How many users are bouncing as soon as they get to get to the page? Are customers actively engaging with the content, by commenting on the blog post or by giving their two cents on Facebook?
This is where Google Analytics comes in handy. You can easily see if this particular piece of content is serving well as a landing page, and whether it’s leading to further site interaction.
You’ll need to set up goal tracking if you want to prove to a client that it is driving conversions, though.
Mentions and links
A good piece of content can define your company as the authority in a certain field, and all it really takes is a good link for a good journalist.
Getting content noticed isn’t the easiest thing – it can mean manual outreach, and contacting certain journalists or webmasters yourself. However, it’s something worth doing to get the brand noticed.
- Back up your initial content ideas with some research
- Try to cater towards human emotions and interests
- Open up ideas to a wider group, especially within an agency setting
- Don’t be bull-headed about your idea; if someone else on your team doesn’t think it will work, ask them why.
- Don’t ever assume that an infographic is going to get loads of links just because it’s pretty.
- Don’t create content just to build spam links. Google won’t like it and neither will customers.
- Always think about who would want to link to the content, or host the content, before you create it.