Content Boot Camp Day Three: Charging Into Battle
At this point, you’ve figured out where, when, and how you want to put your content to work – but don’t count those chickens just yet. The world in which your content lives is unfortunately not a place where the concept of ceteris paribus – all things remaining equal – tends to thrive. Because the power and popularity of the internet is overwhelmingly driven by Google, which in turn is overwhelmingly driven by the individuals using it, the ground underneath your content may shift at any time. While you can’t prevent this from happening, you can take steps to lessen the impact if there’s an unexpected shift in culture, technology, or even the subject matter of your own content.
What You Can Do Right Now
Here are five things you can do to stay fresh and relevant, regardless of industry or product:
1.) Stay up to date. This means reading, watching, or listening to the news every day and making an attempt to at least understand new forms of media. The same social media app that seems silly today could be a free venue to millions of new customers tomorrow; companies like Twitter and Instagram were once hyper-niche sites that were frequently shrugged off as a flash in the pan. Keep particularly interested in the places where your current customers are spending their digital time – don’t be afraid to ask them outright as a question in your post-purchase survey, for example.
2.) Avoid sociopolitical landmines. While some companies have achieved noticeable success by stating their sociopolitical affiliations loud and proud, it’s a risky gamble if you deal with a mixed market audience. There are some universal themes, however, regardless of which side of an issue you fall on: racism and sexism will never translate to good business. Show respect for all, endeavor to avoid cultural appropriation, and apologize quickly, publicly and sincerely with a mea culpa if you are called out on bad behavior, even inadvertently. It’s essential to understand your audience!
3.) Stick to a schedule. Auto-posting software will be your best friend when it comes to consistency, so be sure you’re using it. When your audience receives an email at 3 am one day and 6 pm the next, they aren’t going to view your company as a strong, stable source of information. Consistency will make your company look and feel in charge of your market segment, and that’s the kind of consumer confidence that money simply can’t buy.
4.) Agree on a message. This is particularly important if any of your content is slated for interactive platforms – blogging sites with comment forms, for example. Determine ahead of time which staff member(s) can answer questions and respond to comments, and if there are any tonal no-nos for their answers. The last thing you want is months of a fact-based, clinical tone wiped out virtually overnight by one punchy, pun-filled post made by a well-meaning work peer.
5.) Don’t duplicate – yes, ever. If a blog post is already written, or a product description is already online, why not just cut and paste it into another content platform, right? Well, there are a lot of reasons that might be a bad idea, but the most common issue is with Google’s placement. Duplicate content – even if it’s on two different social media sites – can hurt your chances at being seen as unique and worthy in the search pages for your terms. If you need another version of what you’ve already had written, tap a member of your content team to rewrite the content that needs an extra hand.
Heading to Victory
You’ve gotten your feet under you out in a very competitive market: congratulations! The road ahead looks steady and predictable, but there’s no time to rest on your laurels. Content is, at its core, a circular process and while there will be plenty of time to acknowledge and celebrate your wins, you’ll also need to think about your next move. Our fourth installment of Content Boot Camp: Victory will tell you how to weigh the things you’ve learned in your content approach so far, and some great ideation concepts for continuing your success.
Delany M is a well-rounded freelancer with an emphasis in product descriptions, landing pages and articles. With over a decade of experience to her credit, she has enjoyed writing for national chain retailers, small e-commerce boutiques and a wide range of service providers. She prides herself in going “beyond the word” to capture the essence of a brand or company, ensuring copy that is as noteworthy as the goods and services her clients provide.