“We’d like to publish 2 original blogs per week, and then increase that to 5 per week by the middle of the year in hopes of doubling our Twitter following...”
Conversations like this happen in association planning sessions across the world. What was once a process of curating academic articles, member materials and speakers for events is now a rat race to gain a foothold in our steady digital content consumption. Comprehensive content planning for your association is a must.
And while this is an indisputable and accepted reality, many associations don’t commit the resources to creating original content on a regular basis. While other methods such as content curation can be an effective way to engage with your industry, creating original content, even on the smallest scale, is vital to maintaining a reputation of relevancy and leadership. Here are 6 creeds to keep in mind for associations looking to increase the quality of their content game, or for those who have yet to take the first step.
1. Develop a Clear Mindset
Gaining meaningful and widespread exposure is a never ending battle. Regardless of your association or nonprofit size, earning readers and respect will only happen with a realistic mindset towards what the entire process entails. It’s not plug and play. Even if you think you know where you want to be, without a clear mindset and desired benchmarks, it will be hard to reach your goals. It doesn’t make sense to come out swinging if you’re still developing a new tone for the association or determining which users will engage with you on which platforms.
Make sure you have a clear purpose to create this content, that you’re going to be patient about the process, and that you’re going to look upon it as an opportunity to learn about your readers.
2. Polish your Mission
The mission statement is usually everyone’s least favorite part of a Business Plan, but the purpose they serve in a Content Plans is equally as crucial. Craft a Content Mission Statement for your association and content creator(s) to use as a guiding light. This mission should be as succinct as possible and convey who the audience is, how the messages will be delivered, the tone of voice, the focus of the content and the desired outcome of engagement with the content.
3.Have Honest, Robust Resources
Finding the right writer is harder than it sounds. Your content creator should be someone who not only possesses the skills to churn out high quality content, but someone who is genuinely interested in the subject at hand and has the discipline to meet deadlines day after day.
Once you’ve landed on your writer(s), that doesn’t mean you can simply hand off a mission and schedule to them and go on your merry way. Whether the writers are internal or external, it should be a team effort with the marketing department, sales department and other appropriate parties, especially in the beginning. For the process to be smooth, help them brainstorm subjects and give them useful ideas and feedback for their first executions. Sure, they may be the ones who have a way with words, but they will benefit immensely by talking to other experts throughout the company who keep them up to date on company initiatives and changes in the industry they may not be aware of.
4.Know your Platforms
As of 2015, business blogs receive the majority of their traffic directly from social media; more than from any other place. How you set up your publishing and sharing structure makes a huge difference.
Many associations house their blog on their own website and simply blast it across every platform they have an account with, both private and social media. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, applying more intentional focus to the right platforms can be a game changer. But be sure to nurture the particular platforms your users frequent, whether that be a semi-inclusive industry/association platform or a third party website considered to be a thought leader.
And don’t get too comfortable with the same publishing and sharing schedule. Stay in tune with what’s going on with new websites and platforms that emerge as readers change their viewing habits.
5.Stick to a Schedule
All of your brainstorms and article ideas should be vetted into a concrete list. Once those have been green-lighted with the appropriate party, you need to establish a realistic monthly schedule that includes due dates for drafts, finalizations and publishing. There is no magical formula for diligence in this area. The biggest favor you can do for yourself is to set up clear-cut plan and put in honest effort to being true to it.
6.Maintain and Analyze
The task isn’t over after you click ‘Publish.’ Once your content is out in the world, it enters a whole new phase in which it should be monitored and analyzed based on how it is viewed and shared. At a low level, this begins by simply being aware of exactly who is retweeting and sharing you on different platforms.
Assuming your blog is SEO optimized and implements Google Analytics, your content can be tracked and analyzed easily. This knowledge reveals a lot about your most popular posts and which subjects seem to resonate most with certain audiences.
Maintenance also includes feedback from the audience itself. Does your blog tend to have frequent, involved commenters? Know who they are, how they affect other reader’s experience of your blog, and don’t be afraid to join in on the conversation.
The association that doesn’t recognize these creeds will lose ground in their bid for a healthy chunk of relevant readers. Don’t be discouraged by writer’s block or weighed down by the pressure of high frequency posting. With strong planning, clarification from leadership and reliable resources, a content stream will find its natural flow.
Written by Christian Britto
Christian is the Operations Manager at rasa.io