We always advise clients to develop and stick to a defined content strategy. Having an outline of steady content—blog posts, social media posts, emails, and more—delivered on a reliable schedule is a proven way to build consistency and trust with your audience. A dependable production calendar also reduces stress, and makes tracking, comparing, and reporting on impact over time possible.
But consistency can breed complacency. If the year rolls over to January 2023 and you plot out the exact same content calendar and tactics as last year, you might find yourself boring your audience and your team. You’re also likely to see diminishing returns.
User behavior changes, and platforms change too (sometimes much more dramatically than we’d expect!) While it’s not every day that a major social channel radically changes overnight, even less dramatic changes are still very real. Think about your own behavior, and that of your friends, coworkers, and family. Do you use Google or social media in the same way you did two years ago? Even one year ago?
Even the best, most diversified content strategy can stagnate. If your content strategy is overly tied to a single platform or a single approach, it’s smart to have alternatives in place when adjustments are needed.
Here’s a simple checklist to refresh your strategy before the new year:
1. Consider an “innovation budget”
Keep your steady and consistent content strategy, but set aside a little bit of it to try new things. This doesn’t have to mean money. It could be a budget of your staff time. If you send one email newsletter a month, make a goal to have one per quarter in a new format. Use an interview instead of a story. Try a short video instead of photos.
Innovation budgets can vary, and should align with an organization’s values and goals. A well-financed, large foundation with established brand recognition might allocate 40% of their effort on experimentation. For a government agency focused on service delivery, 2% might be a reasonable way to start with an innovation budget. The important thing is to intentionally set out to test and learn with new approaches.
2. Evaluate, and don’t be afraid to change course
Make sure you’re set up to learn from both your innovations and regular efforts. A data-informed approach to content ensures you’re building a strategy that works for you. And, make sure you’re gathering meaningful data: if your reports aren’t providing useful insights, consider changing those too.
Sometimes A/B testing is only considered useful for finding the right email subject line, but you can apply the principle elsewhere. Put the same call to action on LinkedIn and Facebook and pay close attention: not just to raw numbers, but quality. Are you reaching a more engaged, and therefore valuable audience on one over the other?
With evaluation in hand, resolve to spend time where you’re getting results. It’s okay to phase out channels or methods that just aren’t working for you.
3. Own your own real estate
The Twitter implosion is a great reminder of the danger of intermediaries. While reaching people where they are is important, and social platforms give the opportunity for reach well beyond the audience that’s likely to visit your web site, make it a core goal to have reliable contact information for your followers—this means earning email addresses for those who follow you on social platforms, for example. If your core constituency can only interact with you a certain way, you’re vulnerable to losing them. Make sure you always have a strategy to build communication channels that connect you directly to your most important audiences.
With a new year approaching, resolve to take a fresh look at your content strategy. And we’d love to help—get in touch if you’d like an outside evaluation or more support in figuring out new directions.