I'm Matthew Setter. I'm an experienced software engineer and a security researcher. I’ve been developing software since 2000 and I started this blog to help you write simpler, cleaner, and more secure software, with less effort.
Build Your Content Strategy The Right Way For 2015Content Strategy December 29th, 2014
What’s your content strategy? Do you even have one. Do you just write, tweet, and post anything that comes to mind? Before the new year comes, stop and do it right.
What’s your content strategy? Do you even have one. Or like so many people do you just write, tweet, and post any old thing that comes to mind at what can only be called random intervals? If that’s you, before the new year rolls around, stop and build one the right way.
In 2014, as in 2013, it’s been hard not to hear about different kinds of content strategies, along with the ever present need to have one.
So much effort was expended by so many people, across so many blogs, podcasts, and presentations, that you’d think content strategies may just be a fad, to be replaced with the next hot thing in 2015.
But I have more than a sneaky suspicion that in 2015, it’s only going to intensify. So if you don’t already have one, or are not sure if yours is the right one, now’s the time to get the fundamentals right.
Don’t Chase Magic Bullets
So much of the time the soothsayers, witchdoctors and others give tips, tricks, pearls of wisdom and so on. Sure, these things can be helpful; but in and of themselves, they’re useless.
They’re only helpful when you have the fundamentals right.
At any given moment, if you flip through your social media feeds, favourite blogs, and favourite podcasts, you’ll see any number of people, from random nobodies to the industry experts giving all kinds of advice on what to do.
But if you’ve overlooked one key question, you’re putting the cart before the proverbial horse. If you’ve not laid the strong foundation, this advice will not really help you. What is this question? It’s this:
What Business Are You In?
This is the essential question you need to answer!
Before you start analysing the best time of day to engage on social media, the level of engagement you need; the type of content to create, make sure you have taken time to honestly answer this, one, question.
It might seem like a bit of a no-brainer. You might even be feeling let down right about now, thinking I was going to give you some kind of magic bullet. I don’t do magic bullets or pithy advice.
Knowing what business you’re in is essential; and not just for building a content strategy; it offers several, key, advantages, these are:
- You know who your audience is
- You know what to talk about
- You know what not to talk about
- It’s easier to be consistent
- Social media becomes a logical part of the mix, not an end in and of itself
When you know what business you’re in, it’s simpler to know what business you’re not in. Sounds a bit like I’m stating the blindingly obvious, right? Perhaps.
Common-sense Advice – Which Seems Surprisingly Uncommon
But if it’s so obvious, then why, oh why, do we so often forget this basic fact? Why do we become obsessed with tips, ideas, and anything and everything “new”.
Why do we forever seek out new “strategies”, things which can only be used once a solid foundation’s been laid?
Why do we focus there, instead of getting crystal clear about what it is, exactly, that we do?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting tips and helpful hints from those already achieving great success, we all need it from time to time.
But if, when we’re honest with ourselves, all we’re really doing is avoiding work, avoiding the hard decisions, avoiding the action we know we need to take, then these things are meaningless.
Before you do anything else stop, and get crystal clear about what it is you, your business, your organisation does.
A Simple Example
For me, it’s simple:
I create technical content which engages, especially developers, with platforms, technologies, applications and tools.
With that in mind, I know who my potential clients are, and more importantly — who they’re not. I work with companies and organisations who create software and/or hardware, creating the content which helps them showcase everything about what they produce.
Given that, it makes sense that I create blog articles, how-to and platform documentation, white papers, and screencasts. This is how you communicate tech.
Knowing this, I know what forms of social media to use, how to find and engage with the right groups, communities and forums. It’s far simpler to know who’s most in need of the kind of content I produce.
Save Time & Do More
This has another essential benefit – it saves time. By being focused, I don’t waste time taking a scattergun approach, approaching businesses whom I’m not best suited to serve.
I don’t spend time in communities where the effort would be wasted, because it’s irrelevant to them and their needs.
I wouldn’t say I’m lazy, some might. I’m just 100% uninterested in wasting time on work that brings no fruitful return, and which takes me away from my family, friends and interests outside of work.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the satisfaction which comes from doing what I love, from honing my skills, from being around my industry peers and learning from them.
I love the joy and pleasure which comes from knowing I did something to the best of my abilities. But I don’t like work just for the sake of work.
Be The Best
Then there’s one last benefit, one I love more than the others. You’re able to be the best you can be and serve your clients better than anyone else.
That’s what the power of knowing what business you’re in does for you. The focus which comes from it, allows you to spend your efforts and resources in a targeted manner.
You grow ever better at what you do, so you can ultimately do it quicker, simpler, more efficiently and effectively.
Over time, with dedication and effort, you can become the expert, the source, the guru in your field.
You can see your efforts rewarded and know where that effort, time, and expense has gone.
You don’t fritter your time and efforts away across a diverse, potentially unrelated, range of clients, tasks, and content areas.
You give yourself the opportunity build up a targeted, and well crafted portfolio of work over the course of your career.
So as the new year rolls around, stop and take the time to know what business you’re in. Don’t rush headlong in to 2015, blindly planning “stuff” to do.
Put the horse before the cart by having a clear understanding of what you do, what you’re on about, and why.
Then, and only then, take the time to plan out your activities to meet that focus. I’m confident, when done correctly, you’ll have a much better, and more prosperous, year as a result.
All the best to your success in 2015.
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