I recently wrote about why a content marketing strategy matters. When done well, content marketing can improve organic search, word of mouth marketing and earned media placements. Reaping those benefits depends on building a content strategy that consistently delivers high-quality, relevant stories to your audiences.

But where do you begin? Here are five steps to get you started.

Image Courtesy of Altimeter Group

1. Develop a Plan
Like all good communications efforts, a good content marketing strategy begins with a hefty dose of planning. We have all learned to take the time to define our objectives, messages, and audiences and to identify the stories that will move them. Now take the time to think about the wide variety of mediums that can convey your story and the channels that will reach these audiences. In some cases, you may own the publishing on those channels. In other cases, you may need to earn or pay for placements. Don’t discount any of them.

To broaden my perspective on options, I often refer to this great cheat sheet (above) from the Altimeter Group.

2. Produce Content
Once you have a plan, then you need to start feeding the content beast. Build an editorial calendar that supports your objectives over the course of time. Adopt the mindset of a reporter. Seek out human-interest stories; facts and statistics; or great news that would be of interest.

With those stories in mind, think about the accompanying visuals. Videos, photographs and infographics help your story come alive and attract attention on social media. Or perhaps your story lends itself to audio. Tools like Soundcloud allow you to embed audio snippets into your written stories.

3. Publish on Your Owned Channels
What is your core publishing platform? Maybe it’s your organizational website or a blog. Make that your content hub where your stories will live and then drive your audience to that source. Do you have a newsletter, a Facebook page, an Instagram account? Use all the channels at your disposal to extend the reach of your content.

Image Courtesy of Altimeter Group

4. Extend the Reach with Earned and Paid Media
Once you have exhausted your owned channels, keep going. Think about how to extend the reach of your content via earned and paid efforts. Paid, owned and earned channels have become interdependent, particularly where they intersect through digital and social media. Some ideas:

  • Engage Your Advocates: Ask your employees, members and partners to share your content on their social networks.
  • Media Pitching: Put out a press release and pitch your content directly to reporters and bloggers to place your content. Leverage their reach to draw attention to your work.
  • Live Events: Time the release of your content to coincide with news and events relevant to your audience and topic. Promote your content using the trending hashtag.
  • Paid Syndication: Pay to promote your posts on Facebook or Twitter, or invest in a service like Outbrain, which provides a cost-effective means to get your content in front of your audiences.

5. Evaluate and Refine

The great thing about digital media is that it is immensely trackable. Using free tools like Google Analytics, you can track how many people are coming to your site and how they got there. Additionally, using unique URL shorteners, like bit.ly, for your owned media posts and syndication efforts will allow you to track the effectiveness of each posting.

Measure everything. Take the time to learn what works and what doesn’t. Use that information to refine your publishing and syndication strategy for your next story, and the next, and the next.

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holly-potter Holly Potter is a consultant passionate about applying branding and communications strategies to advance social change.