True or false: Social media is a strategy. F for false, and F for those who don’t know the difference between a tactic and a strategy. Once you get that small but important distinction down, you’ll be less likely to fall into the tactics-first trap that snares so many content marketers, especially those working at fast-growing start-ups and companies with a sudden influx of resources. Even the best-laid plans can go awry in times of change, but by having an ironclad content strategy that keeps the “main thing the main thing,” as Stephen Covey famously wrote, you’ll be more likely to avoid these common pitfalls in content marketing.
Common content marketing pitfalls
Pitfall No. 1: Mo’ Money
More money and resources can be nothing but goodness, right? But simply throwing cash at a content marketing program is not going to make it more effective. A well-thought-out content strategy will provide ongoing insight into areas that need investment. For example, if you brought home a huge bonus, would you know where it would best serve your long-term plans (college savings, retirement, etc.) or would you blow it on a new Tesla so you can impress your neighbor? Hopefully you have a ready answer for that scenario, just as you should for your content marketing program.
Pitfall No. 2: A “Me-Too” Leader
Do you have that gregarious leader who hears about the next best thing from his first-class seatmate, only to direct your marketing team toward it on Monday morning? “I met this guy whose company went bonkers because of Snapchat. Why aren’t we using Snapchat? Go and get that Snapchat and make it work for us!” A good content strategy would help you illustrate to your CEO whether Snapchat (or any new technology) is a good fit. It’s not whether that shiny new thing is cool, it’s whether it can help you achieve your established content goals and objectives.
Pitfall No. 3: A New Social Media Channel/Tech Tool
Every time Apple releases a product or a teenager develops another sharing app, companies scramble to integrate it as fast as possible without asking why. Why? There’s no time, of course! Stop asking questions and lure in those people from the nearby PokéStop! Instead of joining the madness, slow down and reconnect with your content strategy to determine which tactics and technologies get integrated, and which ones don’t make the cut.
It’s OK if you’ve been blown off course, you can always get back to the basics. Here’s the CliffsNotes version of the steps to strategic success:
- Set up your blogging site. Set concrete goals and objectives. Identify your target audiences and what kind of action you’re trying to drive.
- Create a content calendar. Create a strategy to reach those audiences and achieve those goals. Consider your strategy to be your true north against which you measure all activities. It’s the main thing, the master plan, the policy and program, the road map.
- Hire a Facebook expert. Create the tactical plan based on each tactic’s ability to deliver results that support the strategic plan. Now you can jump-start all those marketing activities.
- Keep doing the same thing over and over. Measure effectiveness and implement changes to optimize. Rinse and repeat in this order.