How to Build Your Content Strategy North Star
By Meg Griffiths, Redbird Vice President of Strategy
At Redbird, we often find that when clients recruit our team to develop their content strategy, they aren’t quite ready to “run.” That is to say, they haven’t landed on a clear vision of who they are as a social brand and what it is they want their content to do.
So, we pause. We pause and we work with the client — taking into account their entire content ecosystem and our own expertise — to engineer a content strategy “North Star.” Simple, elegant and succinct, the North Star is a powerful statement of purpose; a statement that all content and social activity can be measured against to ensure it’s relevant, focused and clearly tied to the brand promise.
A product of complete transparency, a strategic North Star lays it all out on the table, clearly stating:
- A universal call to action for all of the brand’s content creators
- How and why the content will be of value to the audience
- How the brand’s promise will be reflected in the content
Below, Marcy Shinder, former vice president of brand management for American Express OPEN, describes the “North Star” used to develop the strategy for Open Forum, a resource and networking site that caters to business owners:
“The new OPEN Forum provides a one-of-a-kind community where business owners can equip themselves with the best information and resources available to build and grow resilient businesses.”
Every content strategy North Star should clearly communicate what the content is meant to do, whether that’s to inspire, to inform or entertain.
Of course, this level of precision, of clarity, calls for a great deal of high-level thinking — some “soul-searching,” if you will — but brands should take one step back before springing forward, because a highly distilled, carefully articulated North Star is the first step to a successful strategy.
3 Reasons Your Brand Needs a Content Strategy North Star:
1. It demands unison
The most engaging content is topical and dynamic, but a captured audience still craves consistency. To that end, your brand’s voice should be recognizable at all times, in any form, across every social channel. The platforms, moreover, should be in sync — no diving headfirst into spring on Instagram while your Facebook page is still channeling winter vibes.
By establishing a shared purpose that creatives, community managers and managing editors can internalize, a North Star guides the creation (and deployment) of content that is unified and on-brand.
Every content strategy has a lot of moving parts — by creating an environment in which every effort is closely allied, you can be certain your brand is meeting audience expectations whenever, wherever they encounter you.
2. It is fiercely focused
All brands wrestle with a finite number of resources, but with a North Star in place you can be better optimized.
Remember: Every element of your strategy — from content ideation to editorial calendars to metrics — should satisfy your North Star. Use a simple “Yes” or “No” analysis to hone in on the efforts that best serve your purpose — to reach your audience where they are without burning through your resources in a way that can be tested and optimized over time.
For example, let’s say you sell wearable antlers and you want to inspire consumers to use your product in new and original ways, your North Star will likely favor a highly visual, DIY-oriented platform. So say “yes” to Pinterest and Instagram. Twitter, however tempting, may not make the cut for quality engagement when viewed through the lens of your North Star.
The digital realm is increasingly oversaturated. A thoughtful North Star will help your brand navigate the landscape, guiding your messaging beyond the media roar and into the white space where it can thrive (Tweet this!).
3. It’s always rooted in your audience
At the core of every North Star is your audience, coupled with the experience you want them to have when interacting with your content — from the community it creates to the value it delivers.
With a North Star as an anchor for every action, from overarching strategy development to your brand’s blog posts, the wants and needs of the audience will always come first, paving way for a healthy stream of two-way communication.
Think of the brands who talk “with” their audience vs. talk “at” their audiences. These are the ones creating a line for two-way communication, these are the brands generating not just content, but a conversation — a conversation that’s human, interactive and continuously building relationships.
Recalibrating any brand’s content strategy is no easy task. However, by walking through the process of establishing a North Star before jumping into content creation, you’ll have a foundation that’s rooted in logic, clarity and purpose.