Whoever your customers are, there are a few fundamental pieces that should be a part of any social content marketing plan. Make sure you’ve got these points covered before you start blogging, designing, and tweeting:

The Business Mission Statement

If your business doesn’t have a mission statement, it probably should. Mission statements are guiding principles. They are foundation statements: You can always refer to your mission statement for a reminder of what you’re doing and why. They also help define business goals. When you begin to plan your content marketing strategy, keep your mission statement in mind. Having a statement in mind is important to content marketing because you need to keep a sense of true north.

Many times, content marketing efforts get away from the narrow types of problems your product solves, delving instead into broader issues that affect your target market. For example, Coca Cola is ultimately a drink to quench thirst, or potentially act as a treat, it might run a social media content marketing campaign that talks all about fun summertime activities. Because Coke is ancillary to those activities, the social media marketing plan needs to make sure it doesn’t lose track of the key brand promise.

Content Marketing Objectives

Your content marketing plan’s objectives should be business objectives. The content in this case is a means to an end. Yes, the content should be great, but creating content that doesn’t further your PR campaign goals is a waste of valuable resources. Are you trying to build website traffic or increase leads? Are you trying to establish your business as a leader in your field? Are you trying to position your brand in a particular market? You may feel like you’re trying to do all these things, and that’s okay, but it will help if you can focus on the one thing that matters most.

When you’re planning, define specific, measurable goals. Then, if you achieve that goal, you can consider the content marketing campaign a success.

Customer Research

Thorough research is important. You need it to know when, how, and where to create content for your customers and potential customers. How old are your customers? What social channels do they use? What devices do they use? What problem does your product solve for them? And what topics that relate to their problem are trending now, or likely to trend soon?

Your content plan needs to dig deep into the customer mindset to be well received. Quantitative research through available data sources is a good place to start, but qualitative research where you actually talk to customers and gauge their preferences is another important way to get inside their heads.

The Plan Outline

Once you’ve studied the market research and have a handle on your marketing goals you’re ready to begin outlining your the content marketing plan for your campaign. The more specific and detailed the outline, the better. Include information on content (type, length, subject matter, and tone), content creation (who will be creating it, where, and when), content distribution (where will you release the content, when, and how often), budget, and success measurement (what metrics will you use quantify campaign success).

Content Calendar

A content calendar will help keep your project on track. Depending on the size of your organization, content campaigns can have quite a few moving parts: project managers, writers, designers, developers, and marketers of all stripes (product, social, comms, etc.). It may be challenging to stay on schedule. A calendar keeps everyone on the same page and on task. Give everyone a copy of the calendar at the beginning of the project. That way, each person can review it right away. If anyone has a concern about the timeline, you’ll know long before your deadlines and will have time to make adjustments.

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Visual: Why Content Marketing?

Why Content Marketing