Compelling content (and a good measurement process) is the heart and soul of a successful integrated strategy. But, for many nonprofits, creating a consistent stream of high quality content isn’t easy. This excellent infographic, “22 Ways to Create Compelling Content When You Don’t Have A Clue” and accompanying post is a lifesaver for people like me who are “content creation impaired.” Occasionally, like today, I find myself stuck or lack inspiration for what to blog about or there is a hole in my editorial calendar. So, I’m going to write a post using the first tip, “Curation: Compile a List of Your Favorite Blog Posts From Other Blogs” and to be a little meta, the list of posts is about content creation!
Content Marketing: Overviews, Context, and Frameworks
Joe Pulizzi, co-author of Managing Content Marketing, has a terrific post highlighting what it takes to excel at content marketing. The post starts with a quick video giving you the history of content marketing. He points to John Deere’s magazine, the Furrow, which debuted in the 1930s as one of the first stellar examples. The post goes onto discuss barriers (acceptance, talent, and technology) and challenges (the capacity to create compelling content) and how to move past these. The post includes links to studies and other material that make the case for why content marketing is the heart and soul of your digital strategy.
I have been using the “Crawl, Walk, Run, and Fly” Maturity of Practice model as a framework for over a year now to assess nonprofit social media practice. The name references a Martin Luther King quote. I shared the framework on this wiki – and encouraged other nonprofit capacity builders to remix it. I was thrilled to see this version (although not a nonprofit specific version) for content marketing from a report by Altimeter. Here’s how they applied to content marketing:
1. Stand: This organization may have dabbled in social media or created a blog, but activity is infrequent and not generally viewed as important within the organization. The marketing department relies almost wholly on “push” communications such as email marketing, direct mail, and advertising.
2. Stretch, Taking the First Steps While Scanning the Horizon: An organization at the Stretch stage realizes the value of content marketing and begins to build the strategy and support necessary to create and publish content.Understanding develops that, while many of the tools and media are free, content requires an investment of resources. An executive sponsor is necessary to lead the program and communicate its value and reach to the organization. This executive sponsor is also tasked with identifying team members to engage with early channels, building basic forms of content, and evaluating potential agency relationships.
3. Walk, Ambition and Forward Momentum: In this stage, content creation and production get a solid strategic foundation organizationally. From channel specific (e.g. “we blog”), content begins to become channel agnostic and is distributed across a variety of channels and platforms. Processes are formalized. This is the stage at which a team begins to take shape, strategy is more fully refined and tweaked, and the team begins to establish governance to scale and shape content processes.
4. Jog, Sustainable, Meaningful and Scalable Content Initiatives: The organization’s strategy is clear, as well as communicated throughout the enterprise at this stage. Focus shifts toward expanding the team and its ability to create experiential, engaging content rather than simply create and publish simpler stories and informational pieces. The processes for producing content are also more fully developed and strategic. Content is created with a view toward being reusable or repurposed across multiple media platforms.
5. Run, Inspired and Inspirational: In this phase, a successful, real-time integration of content marketing and curation is part of the fabric of nearly all aspects of branding. The organization has become a bona fide media company, actually able to monetize innovative and highly polished content that is either branded and/or related to the brand proposition. Content is sold and licensed based on its standalone merit, with content divisions having separate P&L responsibility.
Where do you think your organization is in this matrix?
Techniques and Tools
When I hear nonprofits talk about content creation challenges, there are barriers: organizing it and creating it. Holly Minch wrote this guest post about how an editorial calendar can make organizing your content way more efficient, but she has also created and shared this amazing template in a google document that organization can use to organize their ideas for content marketing. Here’s a terrific case study about how Compasspoint has used the editorial calendar as part of its content strategy.
You might think that organizing your ideas in this way may take out all the fun and spontaneity or that if your organization is a small shop, it is overkill. Not true. It takes away the stress from “not having a clue about what to write about” and that is useful for any organization no matter how large. I’m a one-person shop and I use an editorial calendar for this blog. Editorial calendars can also be useful beyond tracking and planning for blog posts as this useful post from Michele Linn points outs.
Double Your Content without Doubling Your Work
Once you have an editorial calendar, you need to plan out how you will create content and share through different channels. This sounds overwhelming, but it isn’t really because you are not recreating new and original content for each content, you are simply remixing and recycling. Don’t think of content creation as a once and done task like you would for a campaign. Either think big and chop into smaller pieces or think small and aggregate. There are other ways to repurpose: change titles, formats, revise introductions, or reorganize.
Creating Content for Nonprofits
But you will have to create some original content – this is the process of curating, writing, making videos, taking photos, etc. Kivi Leroux Miller uses theanalogy of cooking and having some easy to prepare recipes for quick meals on hand. The mindshift is changing your lens from a campaign view to becoming a mini-news outlet or publication. So, think of your broad content areas as: breaking news, features, shorts, and how-tos. Mix in some content curation and news jacking. Add the ideas of your editorial calendar.
I also keep a brainstorm file of different ideas and use these posts to trigger ideas for “Ever Green Content,” content I post anytime. I keep these ideas in a google document, but some folks swear by evernote.
50 Social Media Content Ideas from Convio
20 Different Formats by Pro Blogger
25 Basic Styles of Blogging, by Rohit Bargavda
Ten Tips for Creating Killer Content by Hubspot
Have Your Community Create Content or Invite Guests
Here’s a dirty little secret. Your organization doesn’t have to create all the content. You can set up a guest series. As a one-person shop, I use guest bloggers throughout the year, especially when I need to take a vacation! You have to be a little organized – have guidelines, templates, and recruit guest posts in advance. Through content curation is where I identify guest bloggers or once or twice a year I will host guest bloggers who are covering a conference. You can also get your community to contribute content. Here’s a terrific case study from Holly Ross at NTEN about how they got their community to help with content creation.
I’m curating articles about the 3’cs of content: creation, coordination, and curation over at pinterest for more.
How does your organization create compelling content when you don’t have time, talent, or resources? What are your best tips for content creation?