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How to Organize Your Content Marketing Plan
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How to Organize Your Content Marketing Plan

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My presentation from Content Marketing World 2012, where I talked about how to organize and manage complicated content projects.

My presentation from Content Marketing World 2012, where I talked about how to organize and manage complicated content projects.

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  • Hi! I’m Laura Creekmore. I own Creek Content, a content strategy and information architecture consultancy based in Nashville, TN. We work primarily in health care, higher ed, financial services -- fields with complex content issues and big bureaucracies. I’ve been doing this kind of work for nearly 20 years.\n
  • Quick check of the room -- how many of you are actively engaged in content marketing? You have content marketing initiatives in your organization today? How long have you been doing content marketing as part of your communications efforts: 6 months? 1 yr? 3 years? 5? 10? Longer? OK, awesome. We’re all going to learn a lot from each other. I tend to be a very conversational talker. I am not at all disturbed by your questions, comments, outright interruptions. This is one of those conferences that’s very intimidating to speakers because we know we are talking to a room full of experts. So please school me when I get it wrong today.\nLet’s talk about how to organize your content marketing work!\n
  • First, you’ve got to find your audience. Where are they? Back in the day, we used to assume our audience would come to us, that we’d have a captive audience on our website, in our magazine, or that the one newspaper in town would be read by all our customers -- and we were right.\n\nNow, our audience is all over the Internet. Some of them read our website. Lots of them are on our own support forums, and even more on external forums. Some read Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or they’re over on YouTube or spending all their time on iTunes, perhaps. A few of them still use traditional media! \n\nOur audience is no longer sitting still, waiting for us to perform.\n
  • You have to figure out what they want to hear. Do you want to reach prospects? Existing customers? Those two groups have really different content needs. Make sure you understand each one. \n\nWhat do you know about them? Are you using personas and demographic information to define them? Where are you getting the research to define the personas? Do you really know what they want to hear?\n
  • When you contemplate content marketing, you can go in a lot of different directions. Figure out what you’re aiming for before you begin. You might want to share your expertise. Maybe you want to answer questions from prospects and customers. Can you help them solve their problems? Certainly you want to promote your company’s products and services, but you know that has to be a byproduct rather than the overt goal.\n\n\n
  • Your content comes in a lot of forms. We’ve got to figure out how to deal with all of them. Instructional content. Articles. Blog posts. Newsletters. Email newsletters. Video. Audio. Images. What else?\n
  • This one is harder for some of us. We may have a CMS. Or we use various strategies to keep up with the content. But many of us don’t think about the many ways we manage our content as a “system.” So I want you to think not just about your content management system, not just about your social media management application, but about email, Microsoft Word, Excel, your analytics application, Sharepoint, Google Docs.... Who has content in some other kind of system?\n
  • Once you know your audience, your content and your systems, you’re just lining everything up. There’s a mismatch somewhere. There’s an audience you’re not reaching. There’s content you’re not managing. There are redundant systems.\n\nFind these issues, and those are the first indications you need a better management system.\n
  • First let’s think about what you need a content planning and management system to accomplish. In this sense, let’s not think about a single piece of software -- let’s think about the ecosystem for your content where your content lives, and all the factors that act on it.\n
  • A great content ecosystem gives you several advantages — [talk]. A major challenge with any of our existing systems tends to be here in the first point — how do we get the comprehensive view?\n
  • A great content ecosystem gives you several advantages — [talk]. A major challenge with any of our existing systems tends to be here in the first point — how do we get the comprehensive view?\n
  • A great content ecosystem gives you several advantages — [talk]. A major challenge with any of our existing systems tends to be here in the first point — how do we get the comprehensive view?\n
  • A great content ecosystem gives you several advantages — [talk]. A major challenge with any of our existing systems tends to be here in the first point — how do we get the comprehensive view?\n
  • We want to see the whole skyline. We’re going to talk about some tools you can use for that, but I also want to caution you -- don’t forget that your CUSTOMER usually sees a very narrow slice of what you’re doing.\n
  • We want to see the whole skyline. We’re going to talk about some tools you can use for that, but I also want to caution you -- don’t forget that your CUSTOMER usually sees a very narrow slice of what you’re doing.\n
  • OK, let’s talk about some tools that will make this easier!\n
  • DivvyHQ is a new tool that’s out for creating and managing an editorial calendar. You can run all your content work through it, in terms of planning. You can even manage approvals and review for many items, with attached files and the blog-post-like content boxes. \nThe calendar features of Divvy are the most impressive to me -- it’s a great way to keep track of your work. There’s a free plan, for 1 calendar and 1 user. Paid plans start at $30/month and let you add more users and multiple calendars, as your needs dictate.\n
  • How many of you already use Basecamp? Let me ask this: How many of you used to use Basecamp? I was an early devotee of Basecamp, and it’s always worked well for me for project management. However, for years I complained about its lack of an effective calendar.\n\nIf you used it before and had the same complaint, it might be worth trying again. Now, Basecamp doesn’t start out as an editorial-ready product in the way that Divvy does, and I don’t think it’s ever going to feel as editorial-friendly as Divvy, which was designed specifically for editorial management. But if you need project management AND editorial management, or if other parts of your organization are using Basecamp, I think you should give it a try for content planning. I think you’ll stay focused in the calendar area, for the most part, but my team has also used the writeboards for brainstorming and sometimes full-out writing. \n
  • GatherContent is a different kind of content management application. It’s geared toward collaborative creation. If you depend on lots of contributors from different departments and teams, or even different organizations, you need to check out what GatherContent is doing. The interface is going to feel intuitive to those of you who are used to working on websites, but you could also use Gather for creating a social media campaign, etc. They’re in beta right now.\n
  • Before I tell you about my favorite solution for getting organized, I want to mention the biggest solutions I’m not talking about today. How many of you are using a social media management tool? This could be Lithium, Hubspot, Hootsuite, Raven, Radian 6? There are bajillions of these tools available. I don’t include them here because almost all of them isolate the social component of your content. They may be able to handle it in multiple environments or channels, but they don’t let you work on your web copy, and your print brochure, and your POS materials in the same place.\n\nI also am not talking about enterprise-level project management software. MS Project or its competitors, for instance. If your organization uses this kind of software, it may be a lingua franca -- it may be more difficult for you NOT to use it. If that’s the case, I recommend figuring out a way to make it work for you, if at all possible!\n\nThe other thing I’m not touching here is an enterprise-level CMS with social plugins. This, too, exists, and while one solution may work well for you, this is an offering still in its infancy. Due to the rapidly changing social landscape, I think it will be a long time before we see robust, mature solutions here. That’s partly why I refer to a content “ecosystem” instead of just a “system.” Your content will live in many places. We’re working to understand the global, ecosystem view.\n
  • This is our go-to solution to solve content planning and organization challenges. I’m sure some of you are feeling a little cheated right now. Where are the bells and whistles? EVERYONE has spreadsheets. The last thing we need is another spreadsheet!\n\nAnd, point taken. I hear you. But while Divvy and Gather are great entries into the market in the past couple of years, I still haven’t found my holy grail. Here are a few reasons why Google spreadsheets still make a lot of sense for my team.\n
  • Remember this list we had a few minutes ago? We can use a Google spreadsheet to do all of these things. It’s manual in many cases, but we can tackle these critical needs.\n\nWhat you have to figure out is, what do you need your tool to do? Depending on your goals, there are a number of great templates and models for setting up your spreadsheet. \n
  • If you’re interested in creating your own models, I’ve got 3 books to recommend to you. [Talk]\n
  • If you’re interested in creating your own models, I’ve got 3 books to recommend to you. [Talk]\n
  • If you’re interested in creating your own models, I’ve got 3 books to recommend to you. [Talk]\n
  • Regardless of what system you’re using, let’s spend some time thinking about what items you want to track. This is where you really can build some utility into your existing tools, or design a new spreadsheet or tool that works well for you.\n
  • If your goal is to control the message across platforms, you actually need to control two things: The message, and all the people who have the capability to speak for you. If you’re a retail organization with thousands of customer service personnel, this has a different impact than if you’re a small service organization with few people creating official communications. \n\nSo think about your own organization, what’s effective there, and then capture that information here. If you’re the retail organization with thousands of employees, then your internal communication plan is also critical to capture and plan.\n
  • If you want to know how effective you are, you are going to be interested in tracking some kind of numbers. Be very, very cautious about just tracking “likes” on Facebook or webpage traffic. These are the kinds of misleading numbers we talked about in the earlier session -- they don’t tell you anything useful. Make sure your measurements are reducing your uncertainty, or get some that do.\n
  • The biggest challenge with a spreadsheet -- or any other tool that doesn’t operate on a calendar basis -- is often in figuring out how to build in review cycles. If you’re going with a spreadsheet, one easy way to conquer this is to put dates in their own column and then sort by date. You can easily move to the content that needs review, etc. \n\nOne important point: All content needs review! Some content may need to be removed or archived, and some may be OK to live online forever. But don’t be caught by surprise by content you’d forgotten about -- your customers may want to use it to hold you to promises that are hard for you to keep. It may even be embarrassing for your organization. Reviewed content cannot surprise you.\n
  • This might be a good time to mention another issue related to content planning and management. You’ll notice I didn’t list the ability to schedule content as one of the advantages of planning well.\n\nThis is not because I believe you shouldn’t schedule content -- if you’re serious about doing this, you absolutely should. There are a lot of reasons why, but the most important is that you need to plan ahead, understand customer demand, and have content ready to meet the demand. Consumers may need something at times that are inconvenient for you to provide it personally. It will make your daily workflow easier if you plan far in advance and schedule as much as possible -- this provides for adequate review and editing time, making your content more professional.\n\nBut you need to be hyper-aware of what your scheduled content is doing. If you’re using Twitter or Facebook, you may need 24/7 monitoring if you have a large customer base -- witness the airlines that have created PR disasters with scheduled content -- and those that prevent them with human-powered content. \n\nIf current events ever relate to your organization, you need the ability to react on a dime. And realize that even if your business is not tied tightly to the news cycle, you can still appear REALLY insensitive if you’re auto-promoting a sale when tragedy strikes, for instance. \n\nSo yes, schedule. But retain the ability to react like a human and not a machine.\n
  • So, what does your spreadsheet look like? It’s going to vary a lot, depending on what you’re tracking. \n
  • Here’s a sample tracking document we’ve used. We’ve got a very small audience for this project, so the sheet is simple. You can make this more complex if necessary -- but I encourage you to justify EVERY SINGLE COLUMN you add to this kind of tracking document. If you’re not using the information, the whole system will feel like a burden instead of an aid, and people won’t use it.\n\nIf time: Share some of the things you’re tracking -- what are the most valuable pieces of information you use in your planning?\n
  • \n
  • Transcript

    • 1. How to OrganizeYour ContentMarketing Plan@lauracreekmore#cmworld
    • 2. Getting started#cmworld
    • 3. Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhysasplundh/Know youraudience
    • 4. Know what theywant to hear http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenjinakamura/
    • 5. http://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/Know whatyou want to say
    • 6. http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/Know yourcontent
    • 7. Name yoursystems#cmworld
    • 8. Where’s themismatch? http://www.flickr.com/photos/33671002@N00/
    • 9. Your contentlives here http://www.flickr.com/photos/rabsteen/
    • 10. #cmworld
    • 11. •Comprehensive view#cmworld
    • 12. •Comprehensive view•Analysis#cmworld
    • 13. •Comprehensive view•Analysis•Review cycle#cmworld
    • 14. •Comprehensive view•Analysis•Review cycle•Access control#cmworld
    • 15. http://www.flickr.com/photos/macchianera/
    • 16. http://www.flickr.com/photos/macchianera/
    • 17. http://www.flickr.com/photos/skistz/
    • 18. http://www.flickr.com/photos/remysharp/
    • 19. •Comprehensive view•Analysis•Review cycle•Access control#cmworld
    • 20. • Index number [You create] • Template • Where available [Website, social • Supplements [Image, audio, media, print, etc.] video, PDF, etc.] • Dates [Due date, live date, • Sharing/other tools available review date, expiration date, • Analytics etc.] • If audio or video: File type, • Staff [Owner, writer, reviewer, length, file size, format approver, etc.] • If image: File type, dimensions, • URL [if applicable] file size • Headline • If PDF: File size • Content summary [or content if • Restricted to certain audience? short] • If public: SEO information: • If page-based: Navigation Browser title, keywords information • And more!creekcontent.com/matrix.pdf
    • 21. Style guide?Talking points?#cmworld
    • 22. Traffic?Leads?Sales?Sentiment?#cmworld
    • 23. http://www.flickr.com/photos/kojotomoto/
    • 24. Laura Creekmorehttp://creekcontent.comlaura@creekcontent.com@lauracreekmore#cmworld