How to Not Fail Content Strategy in 5 Easy Steps

Content marketing is the most powerful tool driving sales. More than three-quarters of businesses use content marketing – nearly half even boast a dedicated strategist on staff – and for good reason. Consumers overwhelmingly expect brands to produce content that entertains, shares stories and solutions, and creates experiences and events.

But let’s be honest. Not everyone is a success story. Get just a few elements wrong, and you are still wallowing in low engagement and depleted resources. Here are the top five culprits of failure.

1. What are your goals?

Content marketing is no longer a new-fangled idea. Nearly every company is pursuing it in some form. E-mail newsletters, YouTube tutorials, industry guides, and other materials simply resonate better with consumers than salesy, traditional ads. But although it is clear people want useful content, many brands still struggle to create an effective program.

Part of the problem is a misunderstanding of what strategy means. As Nicholas Cole, contributor at, explains: “Newsletters are not a strategy. Posting on social media is not a strategy. Running Facebook ads is not a strategy. Those are tactics. A strategy is a larger idea. It’s a movement, a feeling, a mantra, a mission. It’s what you stand for. It’s your message, your unique expression. That’s what ends up attracting a crowd – and interested clients or consumers. Not the act of you posting regularly on Instagram.”

Only with a solid strategy – the “why” that drives your brand – can content strategists expect to develop and successfully manage the “how” of outreach. Depending on the brand, these goals may center on brand awareness, lead generation, customer conversation, loyalty and retention. They absolutely need to be specific and measureable. Do you want to increase social engagement by 20% this year? Write it down. Map out a plan. And if it’s not working, you’ll know something needs to change.

2. Can you describe your brand’s target audience?

Everyone wants engaging content. The challenge is to find out what resonates with your fans. “People don’t Google, ‘Companies that send out newsletters every Monday’ or ‘Companies that post on Facebook every day,’” reminds us. “What people search for are questions. Problems. Obstacles. Things they’re struggling with. So when your ‘content strategy’ is focused around platforms and mediums, opposed to the pain points of your consumers, you’ve lost before you’ve even begun. If you want your content to convey your value as a business, if you want your content to attract an audience, and most of all, if you want your content to actually get found, the you have to answer a question…before you can even start thinking about what you’re going to post or share, you have to first understand what the people you’re trying to attract are asking for.”

Compiling a customer profile usually involves data like age, income, interest, and habits – details that help marketers draw larger conclusions. Fortunately, the ubiquitous nature of social media makes it easier than ever to tap into the major challenges consumers face. All the juicy content you need is right there. Just ask!

For more on this, check out our earlier piece on Seven Stupid Ways Marketers Get Social Marketing All Wrong

3. Is content reaching consumers at every point of the purchase path?

Many digital marketing teams fall into what Forbes Magazine calls creating “random acts of content.” Maybe you get a kick out of producing entertaining YouTube videos, so you do that for awhile. Some links even go viral, sparking new interest in the brand! But meanwhile, little attention is given to consumers mulling over a purchase. Simply switching gears is not the answer, because without a comprehensive plan, huge gaps will continue to exist.

Ideally, content marketers have an eye on every stage of the buyer’s journey. Some material will be designed to attract prospects. Other content should inform and convert consumers and then engage and retain existing customers. That kind of comprehensive planning pays off.

4. Are you consistently publishing relevant content?

Bad news: content marketing takes time to generate results. Some studies suggest the highest returns come between six months to a year. That can be a long time to wait, and many marketers grow weary and abandon ship. That’s incredibly unfortunate, given what we know about consumers.

According to Havas Group’s 2017 Meaningful Brands study, 84 percent of people expect brands to create content. Forrester reports the average person consumes 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. Other data indicates 75 percent of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage.

Experiment with different formats – user reviews, product features, interactive demos, ebooks, and hashtag competitions – just be sure to publish regularly and predictably.

5. Is your brand overlooking existing content?

The best marketing strategists actually convert fan content into brand content, since engagement rises significantly when consumers are exposed to peer advice. If simply including user photos or customer reviews on a company website increases shopper confidence by 73 percent, imagine the impact of embedding social proof in every step of the purchase path.

Fortunately, social media aggregation platforms like TwineSocial allow content strategists to cull through engaging, relevant content by using keywords and tags across major social media networks. That UGC provides one of the most candid, valuable pictures of your brand you’ll ever get – and an incredible opportunity to communicate your brand story on websites, apps, display screens, print, and e-mail marketing.

Want to learn more? Take a look at the “4 Social Media Marketing Myths Everyone Believes” and explore which solutions may be the best fit for your needs.

For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 7-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!

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