Today we held a marketing strategy meeting to discuss what we’re going to do with this blog. When you’re a digital marketer and run a social media marketing tool, you become immersed in an overwhelming world of content. You become surrounded by trends and buzzwords that you feel you should know, being an ‘expert’. After several years of consuming tweets, blog posts, tweets that link to blog posts, ebooks, podcasts, podcasts that recommend ebooks, podcasts that recommend webinars, webinars that promote conferences, conferences that tell you how to tweet…
You begin to question reality and what actually works in the world of marketing. Not only this, you become desensitised to the whole thing and simply begin to ignore content that could potentially be offering you value.
So when we were coming up with ideas for our blog and how we were going to use it to benefit Swift Social, we wanted to rule out what we don’t want to create.
Which content we don’t want to create
1. Lists of Marketing Tips
We could and have produced content like this in the past, but if we’re honest, it’s not that fun to create, which means we never stay consistent at producing it and quite frankly we’re never 100% sure the “tips” always work. The only thing we do know for sure that works, is trying things out for ourselves and either succeeding or failing at them.
— Strong Social (@Strong_Social) March 7, 2016
We’re pretty good at marketing, but we’re even better at building products that serve other marketers like us. We’re not ashamed to say that there are better marketers than us out there. So we’d rather not compete with them with similar content. For example, Buffer have a team literally 20 times the size of ours, who have the manpower to consistently churn out regular content that people find value in. We don’t see the point in producing the same content. We find this type of content very quickly goes out of date and we always end up producing the content ‘because we should’ or because we can reach out to the marketers or tools that we mentioned in our article in the hope of a backlink or retweet.
We want to throw out the sales and marketing agenda. If we’re only creating content for the sake of traffic and sign up conversions, we’ll never be passionate about the content we produce and will therefore not maintain it.
2. Industry News
Information moves far too fast on social media to be the first to break news, so creating articles on “Facebook’s newest features” on our blog will only be 30-60 mins that could have been spent fixing bugs or working on a new feature for Swift. The information will be covered by several other more established news outlets i.e. TechCrunch, Mashable and Gizmodo, so we don’t want to be the place for the latest tech and marketing news. The closest we’ll get to this is to tweet out any interesting and/or relevant news on Twitter.
3. Podcasts (for now)
We do enjoy podcasts in the office. But realistically, between a team of 4, when our product needs developing, marketing and customer service(ing), we simply don’t have the time, expertise or equipment to deliver a podcast up to the level that we would expect from a podcast with high production value. It’s something that if we were to do it, we would want to do it right and be proud of it. Writing content with accompanying visuals by just Joe and myself is more time efficient and requires less manpower for the time being.
Which content we do want to create
When we started discussing our new approach, we outlined our objectives of the blog:
Objectives of our blog
- Build a community
- Be a platform that asks the question rather than provides the answer
- Be human
- Be consistent
- Get feedback
- Create user-generated value
First and foremost, we want to build a community. Even if it’s a community of 5 people at first, we would consider that a win. We want to create content that encourages discussion, because that’s where the value will be. We don’t want to pretend to be experts in areas where others are better, so we’d rather build a platform for our community to contribute value so that we and others can learn from each other. We want to put the spotlight on our readers and champion you as the expert. That way, we’ll learn all learn faster from real knowledge and experiences. What we want to do is show where we’re failing. Mixed martial artist champion Conor Mcgregor had some noble words in his last defeat:
“You either win or you learn”
This stuck in my mind and kept cropping up during the marketing meeting. Rather than trying to teach our audience how to market through untested methods that we don’t necessarily know from experience, but just researched through Google, we’d rather create content that explained how we failed. That way, we’re being honest, human and we think we’ll encourage feedback that can help us on our journey as well as others. We’re more interested in comments and discussion than shares, as there’s instant value for the whole community in feedback, rather than sharing numbers. Shares should be a by-product of quality content that offers value. If you see no value for your self or others in the content or discussion, then don’t share it. If you do, then invite relevant users to join the conversation to add further value to the discussion.
We asked ourselves which article would we be more interested in reading?
Richard Branson: My Top 5 Tips to Help you Achieve Success
Richard Branson: My 3 Failed Attempts Before I Finally Won with Virgin
We felt like the second headline would be the more interesting read, because it instantly humanises Richard Branson, and actually makes success seem more achievable, because you know that successful entrepreneurs struggle too. There’s fewer things more de-motivating than overnight success stories, so ‘quick-win’ articles are exactly what we want to avoid.
Before we implement this content strategy, each piece of content has to pass our criteria checklist.
Content checklist criteria
- Does the content encourage discussion that promotes ‘community learning’?
- Is the content human/real/transparent?
- Is the content natural/non-promotional and not producing content for content’s sake?
- Will the content create value/a positive outcome through discussion?
If we can get our content to tick all of those boxes, then it’ll get the go-ahead on our blog. Of course we want diversify the content, so we’re also adding some other regular pieces to the blog.
Swift Bytes are small form articles that explain decisions we make on the development of the Swift platform. Often at times All the time in the office, we disagree argue about how elements of Swift should look, work or feel. If we’re undecided, we tend to put it to a vote. We’d like to make these decisions public by posting:
- The Change (with a supporting graphic)
- Why the change was made
- The outcome of the vote
The purpose of these posts is 3 fold:
- Keep our users in the loop and take them along on our journey
- To be transparent and human and show that the startup journey isn’t all fun and games and often leads to disagreements for the greater good
- If we receive overwhelming feedback from the community against our vote, then we can change tac if needed
We’re also considering Periscoping some of these posts to make the content even more human and engaging.
Other types of content for the blog
- “View from an expert” series – Guest posting by invitation. We’re going to invite ‘experts’ who know a lot more than us about marketing to be interviewed and spark discussion amongst our community. (Get in touch if you’re this guy or girl).
- Important product announcements – anything important that you may need to know about changes at Swift Social
- Guilty pleasures – Fun posts that are interesting to us (and probably no one else) that gives us a place to be creative and mind dump any ideas.
Now that we’ve nailed the type of content that we’ll be posting on the blog, we need to decide how we’re going to deliver this content to new audiences to help build our community.
Content delivery tactics
- Send an email to our mailing list
- Laser targeting users on Twitter and LinkedIn who would have valuable feedback on the discussion at hand
- Connect our Facebook page so that it only posts the latest blog posts
Initially, we’re going to be aiming to post around 2 articles per week. We know this isn’t very much, but we need to be realistic with our time. We know this isn’t just a case of creating the content and posting it. We want to take the time to produce quality content with in-depth case studies and supporting visuals. Outreaching to relevant people to contribute to the discussion and having ongoing discussion with the community on each post to continue to create value for our readers.
Why we are sharing our strategy
As well as the rest of the startup community, we admire Buffer’s amazing ‘transparency’ approach. So we wanted to take a leaf out of their book and felt it important to outline our content strategy so that you know whether this is the type of community you would be interested in being a part of. If so, pop your email address in the box below and we’d love to have your feedback and experiences on future posts. Let the discussion begin!