So what do you need to think about before you produce any content?
Who is your audience?
Understanding your audience is absolutely key. You need to understand who you're trying to reach with your content. This may be a very general audience: all our customers, for example. Or it may be very specific: teenagers studying business studies A level. Before you produce anything think about who you want to communicate with... and think about why?
Why are you producing this content?
So you know who your target audience is, but why do you want to communicate with them? And I don't just mean: to get them to buy more stuff from us. If you come from that position, you will struggle to produce anything meaningful.
What is the subject matter?
So you know who you want to reach and you know why, but do you have something to say? What you produce needs to be relevant and targeted, but it needs to be more than that, it also needs to be one, or all of the following:
- Interesting - it sounds pretty obvious, but it's really important that the content you produce is interesting. If you understand your target audience and know what you want to achieve this will go a long way to making it relevant and hopefully interesting.
- New - have you launched a new product, or had a new idea, can you reveal something no-one has said or done before? Do you have a new take on an old issue or problem? Is there a breaking news story which is relevant to your company/product/audience?
- Useful - if the content you produce isn't interesting or new, then for goodness sake make it useful!
- Funny - this is risky, and you have to make sure you pitch it right. Sense check your humour with friends and colleagues.
Does your subject matter warrant a short blog post, a longer article, a press release, starting a discussion on Linkedin, a white paper, a video, an image gallery, a tweet, a Facebook status update or something else? The format may be influenced by where it's best to place the content in order to reach your target audience.
Where is the best place to put the content?
This goes back to your target audience, because who you want to reach will influence where you put the content to reach them. Remember this might not necessarily be your own website, it may require research to find your target audience and it may take a few attempts to get it right.
A few important things to remember:
- Once you've put some content out there you can't "get it back". So if you're producing content on behalf of your company/brand check, check and check again before you unleash it on the world. Mistakes happen, and there is always a risk that spelling mistakes, typos or grammatical errors will slip through the net. Minimize the risk of making big mistakes and looking silly, by passing your content by trusted colleagues or friends.
- Having said that, the best way to learn is by doing. Sometimes a company can over-analyse things and miss opportunities because they don't react quickly enough. Practice producing content in a safe environment to start, for example: an internal wiki or a blog/twitter account with very few followers.
Feature in New Media Age about content strategy
11 steps towards a content strategy from Econsultancy
My blog post with top tips for using social media