The 3 important things for your content marketing strategy

What I learned when I started working for a brand

I left my job at a content marketing agency a few months ago to be Editorial Director of Sotheby’s the auction house. Content marketing is a huge focus for the business and I manage a team of creators — writers, video specialists and web producers.

The basic principles of content marketing apply at Sotheby’s: 1) Plan, 2) Create, 3) Distribute, 4) Optimise. And you repeat this same process over and over again.

To keep your strategy on track, there are a few basic things you should focus on.

Focus on storytelling

As long as you focus on putting out great stories, you can’t go wrong. Always ask yourself — and your team: What’s the story? Is the angle interesting for your audience?

There are stories behind every brand. Start telling those stories and communicating to people who you are. But do it through stories. Entertain your audience.

The departments in your company are the source of your stories. And there will be times when they might declare the information that they give you is a non-news story. But a good content marketing team would investigate this nugget of information from a variety of angles, to see if it’s possible to unearth something and shine the story in a different light.

Algorithms change. We know that. Facebook can switch off their pipe to publisher and brand content any time they want. Don’t try to game the system and adopt a click-bait strategy. It’s one thing to optimise towards better performance and another to lower your standards to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Never forget that your audience is not stupid. Treat them with respect. Focus on bringing them good quality stories. Stories that entertain them, that make them go ‘Ah, I did not know THAT.’

Care about content distribution

There’s no point in creating content if you don’t get it out there. No one’s going to know about it if you don’t tell them it’s there.

Put it out on social media and let people know. Tell them why it’s interesting and should read about it.

People don’t go to a brand website with the sole intention of looking for a specific piece of story. They encounter stories through other platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, and Google. Less than 5 percent of Buzzfeed’s 3 billion video views per month are on So make sure your social media team knows what you’ve planned for the coming week, or weeks if possible.

I like to say that most of the hard work in content marketing happens in the pre-production stage. If you’ve planned things badly, it’s unlikely that things will turn out well.

Always ask yourself: How does your audience consume your content? Which platforms are their conversations taking place?

Document your strategy and your tactics

It was only when I started at Sotheby’s that I truly appreciated the point of documenting your strategy. It is so easy to forget to do this.

Before you’ve even had your morning coffee, you get swept up in the day. Emails sitting in your inbox, impatiently waiting to be answered; meetings upon meetings; and production.

All these are operationally important. But by the time tomorrow arrives, you would have forgotten what you did yesterday.

So keep a live document — in Powerpoint, Word or whatever that takes your fancy, and keep track of the strategy and tactics you put in place. Your tactics are also likely to evolve over time as your audience behaviour changes. It’s handy to have all of the information stored in one place.

Go through the live document once a week to see what needs updating. The strategy won’t change. It will be the section on how you and your team execute on your content marketing efforts that will need constant updating and refining.

Plus, it’s a super easy way to help your team stay focused on the big goal and how to achieve it. And here’s one more tip. When, out of the blue, your boss asks for a summary of your team’s efforts, you’ll be ready for it.

Finally, remember this: Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes commitment and focus. So don’t take your eye off the ball.

Are you interested in content marketing? Do you work as an editor, journalist or content creator for a brand? 
Tweet me for more content marketing chat
@karenhodkinson or you can also follow my content marketing Medium collection Crafting Content.

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