Trending February 2024 # Free Content Plan Template To Adapt To Your Needs # Suggested March 2024 # Top 8 Popular

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Keeping your business top of mind for your targets calls for you to post content regularly. You must post the right things at the right time to make the biggest impact.

Your posting schedule must be consistent with your marketing efforts, with a focus on your strategic needs and projected outcomes.

In other words, you need a content plan.

But what is that? Is it the same thing as a content strategy? What type of information needs to be included? And what separates a good content plan from a bad one?

For the answers to all these questions and more – plus a free template you can download and customize to your own needs, read on.

What Is A Content Plan?

A content plan is a document that defines all the marketing content and assets you need to implement your content marketing strategy.

This includes everything from blogs and social media posts to search engine optimization research and white papers.

It will directly align with your marketing funnel, with each included asset corresponding with one of its stages: awareness, consideration, conversion, and loyalty.

Why Do You Need A Content Plan?

Content is an essential part of marketing.

By creating a content plan, you make it easier for your team to create, collaborate and implement this content.

A good plan will help you project future resource allocation, avoiding unnecessary delays and expenses.

Content Strategy Vs. Content Plan: What’s The Difference?

Though they have similar names, are often mistaken for one another, and are sometimes incorrectly used as interchangeable terms, a content plan is not the same as a content strategy.

And yes, you need both.

So, what’s the difference?

The main thing you need to know is this: your content strategy defines how and why content will be used in your marketing strategy.

Your content plan determines what, when, and where you’ll use various assets as part of this strategy in order to reach your goals.

You should lay out your content strategy before starting on your content plan, as your content plan will define how you achieve the strategy’s goals.

What Information Is Included In A Content Plan?

An effective content plan should provide your content creators with useful information they can use when developing assets. Namely, it should tell them:

Who the content is for – Your content needs to have an audience; that’s rudimentary marketing. Your content plan should clearly define who your assets are intended for and be constructed in a way to appeal to these targets.

What problem it will solve – Your target audience has a need. Your content plan should present a solution to this need, as well as inspire the targets to take action.

How it will be created – Do you have an on-staff content writer who will create this piece, or will you outsource it to a freelancer? Who is responsible for publishing it? Answering these questions will make it easier to manage budgets and workflows.

Any associated costs – Whether it’s a payment to a web developer, a placement fee, or a subscription required for research, your content plan should ballpark any expected fees or payments necessary to create each item.

Depending on your needs, you may also want to include information about tone, notes about structure and layout, word counts, categories, and URLs.

Different Types Of Content To Include

It has already been mentioned how every piece of content should align with a specific stage of your marketing funnel.

Now, let’s look at each stage and discuss the types of content that work best for each.

Awareness

This type of content is going after the top of the marketing funnel.

It’s about showing potential customers that you exist and informing them about the qualities that differentiate you. Content should be easily consumable and easy to share.

Common types of awareness content are:

Social media posts.

Keyword-rich content for SEO.

Blog posts that are not sales-heavy.

Consideration

Content that works well for the consideration stage includes:

Blogs establishing your authority.

Comparison content.

Webinars.

Conversion

The lead is on the hook, now it’s time to reel them in and complete the sale. Content in this stage should provide information on why customers should choose your brand.

Types that can help in this stage include:

Sales, promos, and coupons.

Consultation offers.

Case studies, articles, and whitepapers.

Creating Your Own Content Plan

As promised, here is a template of a content plan you can download and put to work for your business.

But here’s the thing – your company’s needs are unique. Just downloading this plan isn’t going to be effective.

You need to adapt it to your specific situation.

Not sure how to do that?

You’re in luck. We’ve also provided a handy step-by-step guide.

Customizing Your Content Plan 1. Determine Which Goal Each Piece Is Trying To Achieve

Trying to be everything to everyone is a terrible strategy. Remember the old adage, “a jack of all trades is a master of none.”

This is especially true for marketing content.

Every piece of content you plan, and eventually create, should have a specific purpose.

As you’re filling out your own content plan, keep in mind what you’re trying to accomplish with that piece. Make sure each piece of content clearly aligns with a specific stage of your marketing funnel.

2. Identify Where The Target Audience Is

Decide who you’re targeting and then figure out the best way to reach them. Then, determine where each piece of content can be placed for maximum impact.

Bear in mind that certain types of content will perform better on specific platforms.

For example, that professional eBook you’re planning to create is more likely to receive more attention and interaction on LinkedIn than it is on Facebook.

3. Take Your Budget Into Account

When determining when to create and release certain pieces of content, be mindful of your budget.

For example, if you have a tradeshow in August that will require a lot of investment, in both time and money, then June and July may not be the best times to undertake resource-intensive content projects.

One of the benefits of a content plan is that it gives you information about ongoing and upcoming projects at a glance.

4. Determine A Cadence

Gaining credibility and growing your audience requires the regular release of fresh content.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic number for what that is. Only you can determine what works best for you and your audience’s desires.

You should look at your schedule to determine how much time it allows you to dedicate to content creation and curation.

Then, put yourself in your targets’ shoes and decide how frequently they would like content from you.

Finally, consider how your release frequency will help you achieve your goals.

For example, if you’re trying to grow your audience, you should probably post more frequently than if you’re seeking to maintain customer loyalty.

5. Create A Flow

You need a clearly defined content creation process.

It should outline what each person is responsible for, who is involved in each step, and establish a process for passing things off from one person or department to the next.

Many organizations find using a color-coded system most effective for this stage.

Some Other Content Planning Tips

Now that you have your content plan template downloaded and you’ve customized it to your unique situation, it’s time to get started planning and creating that content – well, almost.

Before you take the leap and start outlining every asset and piece of collateral you’ll use in the coming year, here as some final things to bear in mind:

Color Code

You should be easily able to identify where a piece is in the creation process, which platform(s) it will be used on, and how it fits into your overall marketing strategy.

Don’t Forget About SEO

Make sure you’ve researched your keywords and are including them whenever possible. Strive to make content that matches search intent and make sure that everything is providing value.

Don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from pages that are currently ranking highly for your desired keywords.

(Note the word “inspiration.” This does not mean stealing. All your content should be original.)

Consider Each Channel Separately

Each content marketing channel has its own objectives. You should always keep these in mind when determining what will go where.

That said, keep an eye out for opportunities to repurpose things. If you can generate engagement by posting links to the same blog post on four different social media channels, then you absolutely should.

Keep An Idea File

Keywords are a great jumping-off point for generating ideas. Look around at what other brands are doing. Can you take a similar approach?

Maybe you have a silly idea that you’re not serious about, but which could inspire someone else.

Your goal with your idea file is to brainstorm as many ideas as possible, which means none are wrong.

Final Thoughts

Creating a successful content plan isn’t difficult, but it does take a bit of work. However, if you’re serious about achieving your marketing goals, it’s something you need to do.

And be aware: Your positions, goals, and criteria will evolve over time, and your content should evolve alongside it.

Now get out there and make something great.

More resources:

Featured Image: maybealice/Shutterstock

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Marketing During Times Of Change: 4 Ways To Adapt Your Brand Strategy

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While you might think that these latest trends would only be around for as long as the world is reeling from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, a McKinsey study has different things to suggest. The millennials and Gen Z’ers, who form a substantial part of the consumer culture, are much more likely to continue the latest trends that have been introduced to us in 2023.

The Importance of Adapting Your Marketing to Change

Out of the many hard-hitting business lessons that 2023 taught us, the most significant one was not to take any idea, circumstance, or trend at face value. These past months of the pandemic have forced companies to introduce new features, methods, and techniques that’ll be adaptable to a virtual and socially isolated environment.

Change is inevitable, and every aspect of your business operations must be equipped to deal with it — especially your marketing.

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Marketing, in itself, is heavily influenced by human behaviors and the conditions around us. This makes it an ever-changing space that requires regular developments and changes to remain relevant to current times.

Sometimes, it’s consumer sentiment that affects certain marketing decisions. At other times, marketing itself can alter how people perceive things. It’s safe to say that both of them impact the functioning of the other.

Thus, your marketing strategies need to be radically updated in times of major crisis or transformation to reflect the changing mindsets of the customer.

4 Tips to Help You Adapt Your Marketing to Changing Consumer Behavior

As you plot out what your future marketing plan should look like to fit the needs of ever-changing consumer behaviors, I have mapped out a few points for you to take into consideration.

1. Reassess Patterns

During times of change, the usual datasets and patterns that marketers and business owners use to define, analyze, and manage buying patterns will be heavily impacted. Such market disruptions may come in the form of new technology, trends, or even a major crisis (like the COVID-19 pandemic).

A marketing strategy should, above all, be adaptable. And the first step to take towards being so would be to continuously evaluate and reassess the patterns of the social environment.

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The world is a fleeting, over-stimulated cacophony of phone screens and overloaded email inboxes. To capture the attention of today’s consumers, you need to speak their language by making conscious efforts to understand the new patterns and data, regroup your efforts, and change your priorities.

Thankfully, analyzing patterns of your targeted consumer base is not that hard. Here are a few examples to help you pinpoint what exactly your consumers are “thinking” about:

Google Trends

It’s an incredibly helpful tool that happens to be free as well. Not only will Google Trends allow you to see the current patterns or attitudes towards a particular topic, but it will also help you to assess the global collective sentiment about the topic.

Facebook Audience Insights

If you are registered as a business on Facebook, then Facebook Audience Insights might prove to be the ideal platform from which you can gather data about the demographic that interacts with your business on Facebook.

Twitter

The usefulness of Twitter lies in the fact that its users are extremely outspoken and not afraid to voice their opinions. Thus, a simple search on Twitter would present you with a goldmine of information about how the world is changing its perception on a rapid scale.

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Customer Service Analytics

Any organization’s customer service data is a treasure trove of information that gives you the opportunity to dig deep and gather new insights or patterns. Through the aid of ticket volume, customer satisfaction scores, and other customer service metrics, marketers will be able to understand the indications of how a certain product or service is perceived, which holidays demand which product, what channels your customers are using the most, and much more.

Community Forums

Use community forums, like Reddit, to glean insights about the authentic sentiments and feelings of your consumer base. As these forums are public, consumer insights generally stand true to the views being held in the outside world. Subsequently, you get a diverse view of not only what the consumer needs but also about what the consumer wants.

2. Seek Out New Data Sets

A major mistake that marketers tend to make is to use the same set of data to direct their future marketing strategies — even when the market conditions are far from ideal.

Marketing forecast models tend to depend on historical data to chart consumer behavior and patterns. During normal times, these data might actually be crucial in giving you relevant insights. However, during times of transformational change, such data will quickly become irrelevant and your marketing predictions will act as an outlier to the current market conditions.

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Thus, as with every aspect of your marketing strategy, your data should be real-time as well. To that end, your business should:

Do a timely and frequent analysis of your sales patterns.

Keep up-to-date with online search patterns.

Do a customer sentimental analysis.

Tap into the smartphone data of you consumer base.

An exciting recent example of this was what Cognovi Laboratories, a behavioral analytics firm located in Ohio, recently did. It found a way to measure, in real time, people’s emotional response toward the pandemic with its Coronavirus Panic Index.

“It’s not just what people say or how they talk, it’s the emotional sentiment behind that,” says Ben-Ami Gradwohl, co-founder and CEO of Cognovi Labs.

The index uses behavioral science to analyze social media conversations and categorize those into emotions i.e. joy, sadness, fear, etc. through the aid of AI and machine learning. These behavioral signals are then calibrated on a scale of 0-100 where 0 means “happy” and 100 is akin to a kind of “nervous breakdown.” These points are then plotted into a graph to view and understand the patterns.

3. Re-align Your Marketing Message

By now, you get the gist of how dynamic the world can be. To respond to the changing needs, aspirations, and opinions of your customers effectively, you need to re-align the values of your marketing strategy too.

The question that you need to ask is, “What can be done to include our brand and its message in the new world?” Is the product or service that you offer still relevant to your customers?

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The faster you act on reinventing your brand strategy to fit the current times, the stronger your brand message will be. Reinventing isn’t about creating something entirely new but is instead about methods through which you can transform your old strategy into a more relevant one. It will include some necessary steps such as:

Transform your brand positioning, persona development, and brand management exercises.

Provide a superior customer service experience to onboard your customers with any new innovations or changes.

Actively track and reassess the customer journey.

Track joint KPIs from both the sales and the marketing departments.

Gather the relevant customer feedback through the means of surveys.

Remember: people want to connect with your business during times of crisis. Thus, reinventing your whole brand message to reflect the changing mindset of the customer (and the world) should form an integral part of your marketing strategy. However, take care that your branding remains consistent in some cases such as changing the logo, names, or other sentimental factors.

4. Prioritize Test Marketing

An important strategy that should indefinitely be a part of your future marketing efforts is test marketing. The key reason for this is to do controlled experimentations to reduce the number of potential failures before launching it in an uncertain market or unprecedented circumstances.

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Without doing any test marketing on your part, your marketing strategy is vulnerable to the indirect costs of any marketing changes, retraining employees to implement those changes, revealing a new idea to a competitor, and developing new promotional programs.

For any marketing professional, test marketing should answer the following three questions:

When exactly should you conduct test marketing?

What are the things you can learn from test marketing?

How can you use the information gathered through test marketing?

Test marketing should be done for any new product, service, or change until the marketer is confident about fulfilling the following checklist:

Having a successful product.

Having a competitive marketing strategy.

Having a superior client communication plan.

Partaking in test marketing will help you bypass the spending of unnecessary cash, resources, or time on products that might not be permanent in the long run.

An Adaptive Marketing Strategy Is a Must

COVID-19 has revealed just how fast and drastically the consumer demand can change. During times of global catastrophes, change, and trends, the difference in consumer attitudes and behaviors will result in volatile market conditions.

Your business should also strive to understand and, at the end of the day, rethink your marketing strategy by using the tips outlined here in order to connect with the consumer’s viewpoints and requirements.

About the Author

Anjan Pathak is the co-founder and CTO at Vantage Circle, an employee engagement platform. Anjan is an HR technology enthusiast, very passionate about employee wellness, and actively participates in the growth of the corporate culture. He is an avid reader and likes to be updated on the latest know-hows of human resources.

Guest Author

Our guest authors are industry experts, marketers, or business owners who cover a range of topics from sales, marketing, data, and entrepreneurship.

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Your 2023 Guide To Social Media Content Creation

Find out how to build an effective social media content creation process and learn about the tools that will make creating content easier.

Social media content creation is the basis of every social media strategy. Without content, there is nothing to post, like, share, or analyze — and it’s impossible to promote products or services online.

Creating content for social media can be anything from writing a catchy caption all the way through to designing a major integrated social campaign with a large team and multiple influencers.

For either of these options, or anything in between, you need a content marketing strategy to develop great content effectively, and content creation tools to do so efficiently. We’ll guide you through all of that in this post.

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What is content creation?

Content creation is the process of creating content. But what does this mean, exactly?

Just about anything can be content, from blog posts to TikToks to whitepapers and even books. Basically, content is anything that provides information or entertainment. For marketers and brands, content creation is an important way to build and maintain relationships with potential customers.

Let’s look at all the potential elements that can be involved in turning your ideas into content for social media specifically.

What is social media content creation?

Social media content creation isis the process of creating written content, photography, graphics, and videos for different social media platforms.

Social media content has to fit within prescribed limits for character counts, image sizes, and video lengths. You have to cram a lot of value into a very small space.

It’s also important to note that social media content creation is much more interactive than other forms of content creation. You don’t create content in a bubble. Whether you’re highlighting user-generated content, creating a TikTik Stitch, or using trending audio to guide your content ideas, you’re part of a larger ecosystem.

Here are some of the elements involved in social media content creation. (We’ll dive deeper into how all of these roles work together to form your social media content strategy in the next section.)

Research: Checking on the latest social media trends and using social listening and social media analytics to get a sense of what kind of content your social audience craves.

Writing: Putting words on the screen — from headlines and video overlay text through to copy for longer posts on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Photography/videography: Capturing photos and/or video footage, like product shots or behind-the-scenes tours. This could involve professional equipment, but depending on your needs, it can also be done with a smartphone.

Video editing: Compiling clips into a finished product.

Graphic design: Combining words and graphics into a meme, infographic, highlight cover, or any other visual that you use on social media.

Let’s put those ideas into action!

1. Do your research

Any good process starts with research. Sure, everything is content, but that doesn’t mean you can just post whatever you want on your social channels and call it a day.

Before you start creating content, you need to know what kind of content resonates with your audience, or your potential target audience.

If you already have a solid following on your social channels, you can start with your social media analytics. These will help you understand what’s already working for you, so that you can model this success.

But social changes fast, so you can’t limit your research to your owned accounts. Social listening is a good way to get a sense of what’s happening in your industry, and what people are talking about when they talk about your business on social media.

Finally, keep an eye on trending hashtags, topics, and audio. You won’t necessarily want to jump on every trend that comes along, but you’ll spot some good digital content creation ideas that may help your content achieve greater engagement and wider reach.

2. Set goals

Now that you have a sense of what’s happening in your industry, you can start to set some goals for your social media content. Are you trying to drive people to your blog? Grow your following? Make sales through social commerce? Maybe all of the above?

The kind of content you create will vary based on what you want it to achieve. For instance, your call to action will be quite different for a sales post versus a post designed to build brand awareness and engagement.

It’s a good idea to get specific with your goals using the SMART goal-setting framework. This forces you to think in detail about what you can achieve with your social content, and how you might get to where you want to be.

3. Have a creative brainstorm

Whether you’re a one-person shop or you have a large social team, take some time to get some ideas up on the whiteboard. (It doesn’t matter whether the actual whiteboard is literal or metaphorical, just that you gather all of your ideas in one place).

This is “no bad ideas” time. Everyone on your team has unique experiences with social, both personally and professionally, that will inform their content ideas and expectations. Allowing everyone to share freely brings all of that knowledge into your shared braintrust, where it can morph into high-quality social content campaigns.

4. Assign roles

Remember all those components of social media content creation we mentioned above? If you haven’t already got team members assigned to each of those tasks, the time to do so is now.

It’s also time to set up a solid social media approval process, so everyone understands where their work fits into the overall picture, and how their deadlines impact the rest of the team.

If you are a small business owner, you may not have anyone to assign roles to. Don’t panic! Remember, everything is content. You can definitely start out by creating all of your content on your own. It doesn’t have to be complicated or take up a lot of your time.

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Even large teams don’t have to do everything themselves. This is a good time to think about whether you want to outsource some digital content creation tasks to freelance writers or designers. You should also think about how to source and incorporate user-generated content, and how to include curated content in your social media marketing strategy.

Finally, consider whether you want to work with outside content creators — aka influencers. This could be for a specific campaign, or an ongoing relationship.

5. Build a content calendar

A social media content calendar allows you to plan your content mix across social channels, so you get the most value from your digital content creation efforts.

We’ve created a content calendar template to help you plan how to use content resources across your social accounts. For example, say you want to drive social traffic to a new blog post. You can use your content calendar to plan out when to post the relevant Facebook post, TikTok, and Instagram Reel.

Your content calendar should also include your ongoing content needs. For example, every week Hootsuite shares a roundup of the week’s blog posts on Instagram Stories.

Here’s how to set up your content calendar using our free template.

6. Schedule your content

Once you’ve filled in your content calendar, it’s time to set your content up for publishing. Sure, you could post each post manually at the assigned time, but that’s a huge time-waster that also sets you up to make simple mistakes like typos and broken links.

7. Build your content library

There’s no need to create every piece of social content from scratch. On your busiest days, you’ll thank yourself for having the foresight to create a content library.

Any successful social post can be made into a template for future posts. You can also add approved images to your content library, whether those are created in-house or acquired from a royalty-free resource.

As your content library grows, you’ll have more options for creating new social content without recreating the wheel.

8. Analyze your results

The content creation process ends back where it started. Analyze your results to see what worked and what didn’t, and use your findings to guide your research and planning into what to do next.

Set some new goals and do it all again.

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8 time-saving content creation tools for social media managers

Hootsuite can level up your social media content creation in several ways.

First, the Hootsuite Composer allows you to create content for multiple social networks all in one location. You can even customize and tweak a single piece of content to publish effectively on different accounts.

Composer also includes an extensive royalty-free media library and powerful image editing tools, so you can start creating content without any in-house photography or design skills.

To use Canva in Hootsuite:

Log in to your Hootsuite account and head to

Composer

.

Select the type of visual you want to create. You can pick a network-optimized size from the drop-down list or start a new custom design. 

When you make your selection, a login pop-up window will open. Sign in using your Canva credentials or follow the prompts to start a new Canva account. (In case you were wondering — yes, this feature does work with free Canva accounts!)

Design your image in the Canva editor. 

Start your free 30-day trial. You can cancel anytime.

Once your content is ready to go, Hootsuite Publisher allows you to schedule posts to align with your content calendar. It even provides custom recommendations about the best time to post based on your own social analytics.

Hootsuite’s Content Library, collaborative drafts, social listening features, and content curation tools also ease the effort of social media content creation.

Try Hootsuite for free for 30 days

Ok, but what if you find yourself staring at Hootsuite Composer without ideas for engaging posts? We’ve got you covered. You can use one of the 70+ easily customizable social post templates to fill the gaps in your content calendar.

The template library is available to all Hootsuite users and features specific post ideas, from audience Q&As and product reviews, all the way to Y2K throwbacks, contests, and secret hack reveals.

Each template includes:

A sample post (complete with a royalty-free image and a suggested caption) that you can open in Composer to customize and schedule

A bit of context on when you should use the template and what social goals it can help you reach

A list of best practices for customizing the template to make it your own

To use the templates, sign in to your Hootsuite account and follow these steps:

Head to the Inspirations section in the menu on the left side of the screen.

Customize your caption and add relevant hashtags.

Add your own images. You can use the generic picture included in the template, but your audience might find a custom image more engaging.

Publish the post or schedule it for later.

Learn more about using social media post templates in Composer.

Did you know that Hootsuite comes with OwlyWriter AI, a built-in creative AI tool that saves social media pros hours of work?

You can use OwlyWriter to:

Write a new social media caption in a specific tone, based on a prompt

Write a post based on a link (e.g. a blog post or a product page)

Generate post ideas based on a keyword or topic (and then write posts expanding on the idea you like best)

Identify and repurpose your top-performing posts

Create relevant captions for upcoming holidays

To get started with OwlyWriter, sign in to your Hootsuite account and head to the Inspiration section of the dashboard. Then, pick the type of AI magic you want to see in action.

Start your free 30-day trial

OwlyWriter will generate a list of post ideas related to the topic: 

And that’s it! OwlyWriter never runs out of ideas, so you can repeat this process until your social media calendar is full — and sit back to watch your engagement grow.

Start your free 30-day trial

Visme is a design tool used to build infographics, animations, videos, charts, social graphics, and other visual content to post on social media.

Visme’s extensive font library and custom color options make it easy to match your brand identity and create a series of cohesive images that embody your brand style.

Source: Visme

This is a great social media content creation tool for anyone who podcasts or creates other audio content. You just upload or import audio, and Audiogram creates a social video with automatically generated captions and an animated waveform.

Source: Hootsuite app library

It’s a simple way to make visual posts from audio content.

RiteBoost helps with content creation for social media by auto-generating static images or GIFs from your post text. It also automates some of the more mundane aspects of content creation, like adding hashtags, emojis, and author attribution.

Pictographr is a drag-and-drop design tool with a built-in image library and impressive font collection. It’s useful for graphs and charts, memes, or simply adding visual appeal to any social content.

Source: Hootsuite app library

Grammarly is an AI-powered writing assistant that helps users write clear, mistake-free copy.

Did you know that you can use Grammarly right in your Hootsuite dashboard, even if you don’t have a Grammarly account? 

With Grammarly’s real-time suggestions for correctness, clarity, and tone, you can write better social posts faster — and never worry about publishing a typo again. (We’ve all been there.) 

To start using Grammarly in your Hootsuite dashboard:

Log in to your Hootsuite account. 

Head to the Composer. 

Start typing.

That’s it! 

Try for free now

Learn more about using Grammarly in Hootsuite.

Social content needs to be crisp, clear, and easy to understand at a glance. The Hemingway App helps with all of the above by analyzing the readability of your content and providing recommendations to make your writing less complex and more concise.

Source: Hemingway App

Save time managing your social media presence with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can publish and schedule posts, find relevant conversions, engage the audience, measure results, and more. Try it free today.

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Unwrap Your Holiday Reputation Management Action Plan

A solid reputation management action plan that anticipates and corrects common problems is a present almost any manager would like to see underneath the Christmas tree. And if you start right now, you could pull together a comprehensive plan to get you through the holidays without a gaffe.

Avoiding issues this time of the year is vital, as the Pew Research Center found November-December 2013 sales made up close to 19 percent of all sales that took place during the fall of 2013. That means sales during the holiday season could make or break your business.

All of those sales are attached to customers, and every one of those customers has the potential to say nice things or horrible things about the work you’re doing and the products you sell.

Clearly, when it comes to consumer exposure and the potential for consumer ire, there’s no more dangerous time than the holiday time. And that means you should start planning now, so you can put those plans to work before the consumers come flying in.

So what should be on your gift-wrapped action plan? I have a few ideas. 

1. Treat Your Staff

A great company reputation begins and ends with a well-trained staff that is motivated to do anything and everything to keep things running smoothly for customers. These are the people who talk with your customers, work with your customers, take their money, and hand out your product in return. These are the people who can either hand out delight or punish with ire. So it makes sense to put their happiness at the top of your to-do list.

There are a few ways you can accomplish that goal.

Many companies give employees some kind of end-of-year bonus. These payouts don’t need to be lavish. They might be just a small percentage of what the person takes home in a regular paycheck. But a gift like this can be just what a harried, holiday-burned-out employee might need in order to put on a happy face for the next customer that walks in. Hand out a bonus, and you could be handing out a little reputation protection.

But if money is tight for your company, you’ll be glad to know that there are other steps you can take to keep your staffers shining. In a study of employee engagement, researchers found that respectful treatment of all employees and trust between employees and management topped the list of things workers tied to job satisfaction. Money came in fourth.

Boosting a sense of trust and respect might be as easy as asking your employees to give their input on a regular basis. And that doesn’t cost anything but your time.

2. Hack Your Website

Once you know you’re working with a team of professionals that want your company to succeed, you can start to dive into the search engine portion of your reputation management strategy. And that means you’ll need to deal with review websites.

Econsultancy suggests that a full 61 percent of consumers read reviews online before they decide on a purchase. That means you’ll need to have a solid log of positive reviews to help you float through the holiday season.

You can get that by ensuring your customers know which sites to write reviews. And you can boost your chances of success if you make those sites really easy for your customers to find.

Look for customer touchpoints on your website, and seek out ways to prompt a review when that step is completed. A customer that makes an appointment, pays a bill, or buys a product could easily be given a flash screen with hot links to your review pages and a simple request for a review. That little prompt could up the positive reviews you get, and that could help you ride out the season in style.

3. Park Your Staff Online

Your website is likely to be a hopping place during the holiday season. But you’ll have other online tools to monitor, too. You’ll need to keep an eye on:

Yelp

Twitter

Facebook

Google

Angie’s List

These are the sites in which a very small attack can take hold and begin to grow. And those attacks can come at any time, including times during which your physical office might be closed.

If it’s possible, ensure someone is monitoring your online reputation at all times, looking for new attacks and working with the team to respond to attacks (more on that in a bit). If you can’t devote staff to this around-the-clock monitoring, set up a schedule that allows you to spot check every 4 hours. Or every 6 hours. Or whatever schedule works best for you and your company. Just make sure you’re keeping an eye on your reputation throughout the entire season, so you won’t walk into big messes you could have solved hours before.

4. Create a System

A good monitoring system helps you spot an attack. But once you see it, you’ll need to deal with it. And that means you’ll need to create a response playbook that details what you’ll say and who will say it when you come under an attack.

The right response matters. In fact, in an Arizona study, researchers found hotels that responded to at least half of their online reviews increased their occupancy rates by more than 6 percent. That’s a great little stat that shows just how much power a response really has.

Just remember: Your response should be short, sweet, professional, and accurate. And sometimes, you’ll need to prompt people to discuss the problem with you offline, so you’ll have a change to explain things without the prying eyes of others.

5. Write up Reminders

In addition to paying attention to how others write or think about your company over the holidays, it pays to think about how your employees could sabotage your company with their revelry.

If you provide alcohol in the workplace, and many companies seem to do so, per ABC News, it makes sense to ensure that your employees know about the damage a drunken snap can cause. Same goes for white elephant gifts. And holiday jokes.

Before the holidays are in full swing, make sure your employees review your company’s social media policy. If they know the damage they can do, and the consequences that will hit them if they slip up, they might be a little more careful.

6. Stick With Promotions

While you have a lot on your plate, remember that you should still be writing up your blog posts and social media posts, even as the holidays wear on. Every little bit of content you work up has the potential to tell the story of your company in a whole new way, and that content could help to overcome a new reputation attack.

Revise and Repeat

Image Credits

3 Easy Steps To Make Your Content Work Harder

Businesses of all sizes are investing more time, resources, and money into content creation than ever before.

Almost every organization that I speak with understand the potential return on investment that great content can deliver, and yet disproportionately few companies are spending anywhere near enough focus on making existing content work harder toward current and changing business goals.

What follows are my three favorite tactics that work to leverage the value of your existing content and support greater historical and existing content contribution toward your business goals.

1. Reinforcing Content Purpose & Deriving More Value

Every piece of content that is created and added to your website needs to have a clear purpose.

However, the purpose, positioning, and pitch of content can – and likely will – change over time. Plus, there are often industry or search changes that provide new opportunities for extra visibility targeting.

High-quality content isn’t enough unless there is a valid reason for the content to exist in the first place.

Common Content Purpose Updates

How can you revisit and reinforce purpose into existing content?

There are many ways.

Common content purpose includes:

Informing and educating.

Driving users through a buying cycle.

Expediating time to purchase.

Reinforcing trust and expertise.

Encouraging herd mentality.

Selling products and services.

Positioning the brand.

Once you’re happy that the content is serving it’s intended purpose, the next action is to maximize and grow its value.

Some of the tactics that I regularly deploy to maximize the value derived from purposeful content (in this case the purpose being to “educate and inform”) include:

Targeting SERP features like featured snippets and rich results.

Increasing the depth of content topical coverage.

Answering core audience questions.

Expanding the onsite authority passing to key topical pages.

Use of mixed content types.

Content Purpose Updates in Action

Here’s an example of this exact approach in action (disclosure: this is based on work I do with WorldFirst).

Some of the characteristics used for educating and informing people (in this case tied to foreign exchange) can be seen below.

Answering the most relevant user questions, informational barriers, and positioning content within a framework that supports Google rich result inclusion, as well as driving the user through an informational journey.

Increasing the topical coverage and depth of standalone page value to encourage single destination solutions for the website visitor.

Incorporating mixed content types to support alternative and preferred user content, the inclusion of content within other verticals (in this case image search, plus integrated search result pages), and perceived content quality.

Independent segment value specific to solving identified audience needs.

2. Increasing Your Domain’s Topical Authority

When businesses are looking to expand into new areas, add new products and services, or generally solve audience dilemmas, frequently they will add a single topical page onto the website. They assume doing so will be enough for Google (and other search engines) to associate this topic with the authority of the website.

This simply isn’t the case.

For search engines to attribute any tangible levels of expertise, trust, and authority to a new business and/or website focus area, the content needs to facilitate a number of trust and expertise factors plus demonstrate value above that seen with long-standing content coverage areas.

Tactics to Grow Topical Authority Faster

Assuming that you’ve already created amazing content that is the best resource of its kind when compared to your business and SEO competition, here are some actions you can take to help build topical authority faster:

Increase the scale of on-site topical content coverage with a tiered approach to content creation. This can include alternative content types and targeted blog posts discussing key intent areas on the topic. The goal is to associate the site more effectively with the topic when comparing it to other established topics.

Improve internal linking to topic pages (primarily to the main topic landing page or hub) passing page views, engagement, and authority.

Promote external trust signals with external brand mentions on the topic as well as backlinks pointing to key topic pages. A focus here needs to be fresh backlink signals from topically relevant externally trusted and authoritative ranking, non-competing sites.

Fuel social engagement, social sharing, and engagement with topic-specific influencers and generally with your established audience. Building buzz, PR, and new topic-based social awareness will help speed up the relevance of the brand to new areas of interest.

Leverage important website navigational areas to reinforce the value and relevancy of the topic to the business. This can include persistent sub-navigational elements like footers as well as the primary navigation. This will help place the topic higher up in the perceived site hierarchy and importance.

3. Refresh, Revisit, Refine

Content will never live up to its full potential unless you put in place measures to:

Refresh it.

Revisit the content based on latest data sets.

Refine and update the content reflecting the ways in which it is being discovered, interacted with, and its general functioning.

Each piece of content added to a website should be given enough time (2-3 weeks) to build authority, generate impressions and traffic, and generally begin to build up a data set large enough to make an informed decision on potential modifications.

Some of the questions you need to answer with new content include:

Does it fulfill its purpose?

Can you get more value from it?

How is it performing compared to your other content and compared to other competing external content?

What is working well?

What can work better?

Does the content reflect the search queries people are using to discover it?

Can the content deliver more value to the user?

Are there underperforming metric areas that can be targeted for improvement?

Conclusion

Your content can always work harder.

While it is true that “‘SEO never sleeps,” it’s equally correct to assume that “content is never complete.”

Every new data point, user interaction, and search query is an opportunity to act on and improve when it comes to content.

My three easy actions to make content work harder and deliver extra results sooner are:

Reinforce content purpose and derive more value.

Increase your domain’s topical authority.

Refresh, revisit and refine.

More Content Marketing Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, July 2023

Top 8 Ways To Use Content Marketing To Grow Your Future

Content marketing takes businesses where they wish to be. But using it properly can be a daunting challenge to some.

Content marketing is wonderful for businesses. There is no doubt about that. However, there is one important thing to understand.

As many benefits as it has, it also has challenges. While to some, these challenges are a mere push to the next level. Others struggle with it. But, like any other problem, this one might have a fix too, right?

How can a problem exist without a solution? For beginners in content marketing, the problem is landing on the right foot. While you might have it all right in theory, a practical implementation might puzzle you.

Yet, that is not the time to panic as content marketing can push even the best to their limits. But the question remains. What can you do? How can you make sure your content marketing goes smoothly?

Then yields the results that you need so badly. Here are eight ways that can help you use content marketing to its full-grown

Top 8 Ways To Use Content Marketing to Grow Your future 1. Make A Definitive Objective

Your marketing tactic needs to be objective. If you are not focusing on making an objective, then you are missing the point.

How can you avoid this? By simply focusing on the things most important to you. What do you wish to achieve out of your marketing venture? Are you a new business setting up shop? Or you just need to reach your audience on a vast spectrum? Those are two surface-level objectives that businesses might have when they get started. However, yours can be a bit more complex than that. The point is to circle your strategy around your objective.

2. Set Realistic Goals

Now, what is the difference between a goal and an objective? They are the same, right? Wrong. An objective is a temporary feat that you wish to achieve. A goal is something that you wish for in the long term. For example, your objective is to garner more audience.

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3. Understand Your Audience: Create Customer Personas

Before you dive into the “what”, you need to understand the “who.” Who is your target audience? Do they fall into particular demographics? Learn demographics and psychographics to have a better grip on this matter. It will help you solve one of the major problems for many marketers.

Understanding their target audience. If you do not know who your audience is. Whom you are writing content for, then you are missing the point completely.

How can you avoid that? By simply marking your preferred demographics. In other words, customer personas. Focus on making these and you will notice the difference.

4. Create A Content Calendar

You need a schedule for all the content creation. Without it, your strategy will be all over the place. And you do not want that.

How can you make one? By simply making quarterly goals, if your expenditures are based annually. However, you can devise this calendar or schedule as you please. You can make weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly goals.

5. Employ Various Content Types

One of the great things about content marketing is the variety it has. The diverse type of content makes it easier for one to get lost in the debate of which one is best. The simple answer is, all of them are great.

It depends on what works best for you. For example, if you want to argue that video animations are better than text content on a blog, then that’s all good. Because that might work well for you. As mentioned earlier, you need to find what works best for you.

Also read: Top 10 Successful SaaS Companies Of All Times

6. Revitalize Your Strategy After A While

There is one of the major problems for businesses. Once their content marketing strategy starts yielding results, they stop doing anything about it. As a result, their content becomes boring and stale. They stop seeing the results they first saw. Why is that? Because their strategy gradually becomes obsolete.

How can you avoid such a thing happening to you? By simply making sure your content creation allows you to evolve. You need to change your objectives. Tweak your customer personas. Add more to your content calendar etc.

7. Figure Best Platforms For You

Another major problem for new content marketers is that they get tied up in the debate for which platform is best. The answer once again is that all of them are. You need to find out which one has the most potential for you. Like many other brands, blogs might be your primary focus.

Then that is good because it has immense potential. However, if your focus is on one platform initially and then shifts to others gradually, then that means progress. The bottom line is, figure what is best for you. Then move forward to using the others.

8. Expand On KPIs

Last but not the least, this is one mistake that can be a major drawback. You might notice that one of your KPIs, aka key performance indicator, is higher than the others.

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Conclusion

They are a way to take your work beyond the level of beginner and intermediate marketing strategy experts, and to achieve better brand awareness, search engine optimization, social media recognition, and more potential customers for your small business.

Content marketing strategies can be used to create great content, get more traffic and lead generation, and make more sales.

But these marketing efforts and tactics are only useful if you know when and where they should be used.

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