You’ve taken the first step and created a content marketing strategy for your brand. Great! Now the real work begins – creating content your audience will find relevant enough to share on social media.
Having a content strategy is all well and good, but how the strategy gets implemented is even more critical. There are few things more intimidating than a blank document or piece of paper and the knowledge you need to bring your ideas to life.
The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you should aim to never have only one person creating content and there are lots of tools out there to help you. In this article, we’re going to talk about what happens after you’ve created the content strategy; the nuts and bolts of content creation and what you can use to make it easier.
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to content creation is short-changing the amount of time they dedicate to it. Quality content takes time. It takes time to come up with the ideas, to research them, to find links to use in them, to find images, and to create the content. A medium length (700-900 word) blog post needs about three hours devoted to it.
Creating a list of topics can help with idea generation and having a good source of stock photos will save you some time, but content creation can not and should not be rushed. It’s better to take an extra day and create solid content than to rush through creating pieces which have not been edited and are full of errors.
Don’t Go It Alone
Creating content in a vacuum is no fun. If only one person is tasked with content creation, it’s very likely they will burn out more quickly than if they had others to share the load. Ideas spawn ideas, so when you’re flying solo, it can be hard to come up with ideas.
Different types of content require different talents. Our best writer may have no clue how to make an infographic or short video, while someone who is great at editing pictures or making memes may have no idea how to write a guide, and this is all okay. Having a content creation team enables everyone to play on their strengths and nobody feels like all of the content creation pressure is on their shoulders alone.
The type of content you create is going to depend on what messages you’re trying to get out. Once you’ve picked a topic, your next decision is how it will be presented. Content fits into one of three broad categories – audio, written, and visual. We’ve talked before about the four types of written content and seven main types of visual content previously, but how do you pick?
There are some gray areas – a how-to guide could be written, it could be an infographic, or it could be a how-to video. The main factors which influence what type of content you create are the subject and the audience. Not all types of content are applicable for all things. For instance, a meme may not be the best choice for a business offering funeral services. Likewise, there are some topics which lend themselves much more easily to video than others.
Having access to high-end video equipment and the best image editing software is definitely a bonus, but you can get started with a smartphone and a laptop. If you want an online presentation you can use Prezi or Google Slides; these are very functional and easily customizable for your needs.
Easel.ly and Piktochart are good for creating and sharing your own custom infographics. For most other image needs, you can turn to Canva – which has templates for everything from blog graphics to comic strips.
In terms of written content, Google Docs and Google Sheets are the two most popular online collaboration solutions. Google Docs is fairly easy to understand the utility of, but why use a spreadsheet program like Google Sheets for content creation? It’s great for creating tables of ideas, assigning responsibility, and keeping track of metrics like views and clicks.
There are literally hundreds of content creation tools out there. The ones listed above are just the beginning. If they don’t work for a piece of your content, look around and you’ll be sure to find something which works for your team.
Optimization is Key
When we talk about optimizing content, most people assume we’re talking about Search Engine Optimization for blog posts – and yes, optimizing blog posts is very important (for help with optimizing a blog post, download our Content Optimizing Checklist) However, any kind of content can be optimized, so it will come up more quickly in Google searches.
Visual content especially, needs to be optimized, whether it’s incorporated into written content or standalone. Optimizing visual content is done by creating keyword rich file names and describing it using html (alt) tags. Alt tags describe images. This is especially important for larger images, which people with slower Internet connections may not be able to display. For users who have adaptive software such as a screen reader, alt text is what tells them what the image is. Similarly the image tag is what dictates the words which appear when a user hovers over the image. Both can help raise your visual content up in search engine results pages as search engine spiders likewise use these same tags to interpret and better index images.
To optimize videos uploaded to YouTube or other video platforms, you want to make sure the filename, title, description of the video are keyword rich. If you are posting your videos on YouTube or other video sharing sites, keyword rich tags should be added and videos should be placed in appropriate categories. Another best practice is to incorporate calls to action and links to relevant content (web pages or other videos) either within the description or the video itself. YouTube recently added Cards as well as Annotations as a means to adding related links within videos.
Creating content, for some, is often a labour of love. It takes time, hard work, and persistence, but creating quality content that is easy to share and resonates with your readers will bring long term benefits to your business.