Content marketing is a becoming a game where quality and quantity are prerequisites for success. Creating quality blogs, podcasts, and video content is within reach for most. But filling a calendar with quality content, every month, is breaking the back of most marketing teams.
The answer isn’t “work harder” or “work smarter”. Like most complex problems, the answer is a hybrid option, combining the best of many options.
Today we’ll discuss a “Hard and Smart Content Plan” that will streamline your content creation process enabling you to create more high-quality content.
Select the Right Content
- Authority Content: Authority content demonstrates your ability to diagnose your reader’s problems and your approach for solving them. This content is the foundation of your content marketing strategy. Each article builds your war chest of relevant information that prospects use to familiarize themselves with your business.Example: You Need Post Acquisition Savings From Sales – Here’s Where to Get Them. SBI uses this post to demonstrate its approach to sales management. This post is filled with carefully selected thoughts that appeal to a very specific reader.
- Sales Content: This content generates demand for a specific product. This content often promotes a product with an attractive offer. Be careful here. This isn’t a sales pitch. Your post should give solid content. The difference is that there is an explicit call to action woven into the content.Example: The Last Day To Save On Authority 2015. This is a straightforward “I am here to sell you something” post. A closer look, however, reveals an information-packed blog post written to cleverly build demand in the Authority 2015 event.
Get More Done With Connected Apps.
Connected Apps can be combined to create automatic processes. Two services, Zapier and IFTTT, can create a simple script to use an action on one app to trigger an action on another. For example, adding a new post to a Google Docs folder (Connected App) triggers an alert to your proofreader on Slack.
Here are a few connected Apps that we use at Pushing Social:Writing: Google Docs
- Writing: Google Docs
- Team Messaging: Slack
- Team Collaboration: Asana
- Email: Gmail
Build An “Always On” Content Plan With Automatic Processes (AP).
These processes run without human intervention. Automatic processes work best for routine, low-risk activities that must be done in a consistent way. You will need to select Connected Apps to set-up an automatic process.
Once set-up the AP runs in the background watching for triggers that start a corresponding set of events. Here are some of the APs we use:
Curation: Finding and compiling a list of useful content to share via social networks.
- Yahoo Pipes: Create a pipe that checks and lists the latest articles from 1-10 blog feeds.
- Zapier reads Yahoo Pipes’ RSS feed and adds new links to a Google spreadsheet
Syndication: Taking a blog post and submitting promoting it on social media networks
- Set up Zap (Zapier) to watch your blog’s RSS Feed and add new updates to Buffer.
- Buffer will automatically tweet out your post based on your settings.
Monitoring: Reviewing social platforms and responding to questions and feedback.
Set up Zap to forward new @mentions of your brand on Twitter to your team’s messaging tool.
AP Best Practices
- Keep humans in the loop to ensure quality and relevance.
- Automatic posting doesn’t mean you set and forget the channel. Always set-up a monitoring process to flag responses on social media channels
- Be careful about automating direct communications with clients. We are good “bot detectors” and are turned off when bots are used to send supposedly personal emails.
Multiply Your Effectiveness with Semi-Automatic processes (SAPs)
These processes are semi-automatic because it adds a flesh-and-blood team member. The process starts with an automatic trigger and alerts team members when its time for them to take an action.
We’ve set-up theses SAPs:
- I write an article during my daily 30 minute writing session.
- Finished articles are added to a shared Google Docs FolderZapier watches the folder and alerts my editor when a new article has been submitted.
- Zapier watches the folder and alerts my editor when a new article has been submitted.
- My editor uses our publishing checklist to publish the article.
SAP Best Practices
- Create Checklists. Consistent results come from standardized processes. We use checklists extensively at Pushing Social. I’ve learned that mistakes always happen when someone deviates from the checklist. I recommend creating a checklist for every task that must be done the right way every time.
- Focus Your Team on the Right Thing: SAPS combine automated apps with team supervision and input.
You want your team to provide the creativity and supervision needed to make the process effective. Remember that the process serves the team not the reverse.
Set a Cadence For Long-Term Effectiveness
I asked John Lee Dumas and Pat Flynn how they are able to produce so much content. They both immediately said – “Batching”. Batching is writing 5 blog posts or recording 10 podcasts every Monday.
The batched content is handed over to an editor to finish and schedule for publishing.
Batching works by harnessing your energy for one marathon session. One work day is usually what it takes to generate a month’s worth of content. Many prolific content creators use batching to generate 8-10 podcasts a day or 3 months worth of high-quality video content over two days.
Look for an opportunity to schedule a batch day to concentrate on generating a lot of high quality content quickly.
Schedule a mandatory content review session to review your program’s performance. These sessions should happen weekly with action items assigned for follow-up on the following Monday.
Solo Operator? Schedule a time with yourself. Hold to it. Your ability to evaluate, adapt, and execute is your best advantage. Remember that what get’s scheduled gets done.
Once a month check your process and look for ways to streamline steps or get more done in less time. We recommended checklists earlier because they make it easy to isolate specific actions that need attention. Determine your action steps and repeat the process.
Watch Out For This Content Distraction
We’ve discussed several processes for working hard and smart as a content creator. Remember that the goal is to publish content.
Like Steve Jobs said, “Real Artists Ship.”
The goal isn’t to find the next “gee whiz” content app. You can execute the Hard & Smart Content Plan with a pen and notebook.
Keep your eye on two numbers:
- The number of high-quality content published each month
- The total time users spend using your content – Attention Minutes.
You can do this.
Let’s talk more about it in our LinkedIn Business Content Marketing Strategies group here.