Website “content” has shifted from being not as important as the website design to now front and center for digital marketing. So what does having a “Content Strategy” mean for your website and how can you use it?
Engage Through Conversation
Brands now seem to be attracted to the latest format or platform (“There’s an app for that”, anyone?) whereas a few years ago brands wanted nothing more than to have something of theirs go “viral”. But content shouldn’t be overlooked: great content creates conversations, conversations help you engage with people, and in this Social Media World, engaging with people is the only hope for brands to survive.
So while forming a “Content Strategy” can be difficult due to differences and individual factors, here’s a more streamlined 10-step process for you to check out.
Setting principles for your personal brand is a pretty basic branding idea: having these established will allow for discussion to take place centered around your authenticity, humility, and transparency. Now’s also the time to define your “client-engagement” policy. Set some principles. Doing so allow the brand to have a healthy and robust discussion around authenticity, transparency, and humility, as well as an opportunity to define the engagement policy. You need to be aware that brands cannot control when conversations end, so brands must make a continual investment in this ongoing endeavor.
2. Business Objectives
So…why are you doing this? State your objectives and link them to metrics where you can set targets and define a budget.
3. Brand Purpose
Here you delve a bit more into what your brand stands for within its “substance”. Focus on the topics that are important to you, and identify your position on certain subjects. What is your point of view? What’s your story? What’s your purpose? And most importantly, why should people care about you and your brand?
The best brands often identify an “ideal”, which can be an interesting direction to go into: for example, Fanta believes the world would be better if we grew up less and played more. How can you apply this thinking to your real estate brand? What would you like to see? This is a great way to give your brand a purpose and give you something to anchor your future content to – and remember to continuously back up your brand ideal with evidence!
4. Content Value (Social Currency)
This “social currency” determines what value that your content delivers directly to people. The direct value of content can be broken down into four types:
- Entertainment value. Currently, advertising has taken a huge focus on this type of content value “currency”. People like to be entertained, and ideas that can be parodied spurs much conversation.
- Knowledge value. Business to business knowledge provides much content value within select industries.
- Monetary value. Actual monetary value can be applied through PR via promotions and competitions.
- Utility value. Phone apps and the latest in real estate website features fall into this category, and with the increase in intuitive real estate websites, apps may be a viable option to look into.
So who will produce all this great content for you? If you are a brokerage, you may have more choices than you may realize.
- Your Agents can be an effective choice for content creation. The US online shoe retailer Zappos.com encourages all staff to use Twitter and adds a competitive element: a leaderboard that ranks Zappos staff according to their Twitter following.
- Industry Peers by simply sign-posting people to relevant, interesting stuff: this goes for websites for both brokers and real estate agents.
- User-generated content (UGC), crowdsourcing, and co-creation is pretty self-explanatory and can also be a viable option.
Whats the distribution strategy for your content?
- Brand media: your real estate website, email, and events (i.e., open houses?)
- Earned media: influencer networks, communities, or the media
- Paid media: I think we can guess how to get this.
It’s important to control the balance of these spaces, and experiential and social spaces work really well together. Another aspect of consideration is the question of social destination: not a lot of brands can pull this off. If you don’t have enough support, it may be difficult to get this going – and you’ll be spending on generating useless traffic. It may be more beneficial to your brand to get involved with communities that already exist, so do your research!
Formats that are appropriate to use include pictures, blog posts, videos, presentations, tweets, or Facebook. You can also repurpose your content into different formats: if you have an upcoming open house, use the same topic in a series of blog posts, announcement on your Facebook, Tweet it, and maybe make a video out of the Open House itself to throw up on YouTube. Make sure that your content is in a format for people to easily share!
Conversations aren’t campaigns: they can’t be turned off. You should have a consistent content schedule (i.e., blog 2x per week) and keep it rolling. Take into account ad hoc and reactive content to what is going on around you to your pre-planning. Setting up a schedule will also ensure a constant stream of content. Be creative: experiment with different content and build on peaks of interest with similar material.
9. Social Agents
You’ll need someone to manage your brand outposts. Someone needs to be responsible for managing your brand outposts and managing your conversations. They should also be able to build relationships, redirect questions and suggestions, and ultimately be responsible for your social brand. This “person” can be a team of real estate agents for your brokerage, an intern, all agents, on an outsourced real estate SEO company.
10. Active Listening
It’s not enough to simply produce content, you need to be an active listener with your brand to gauge the reaction to your content. Track the conversations that you start, which ones you want to join, and create a metric to track your progress in regards to your objectives, targets, and budgets.
Questions, thoughts or strong feelings? Feel free to comment with your feedback!