You could spend hours

sifting through the mountains of media surrounding the concept of content strategies and marketing. We’re going to lay it out for you….ignore it. Keep it simple. Of course you shouldn’t kick it under the rug entirely, but too much information results in an oversaturated plan susceptible to derailment. When it comes to your brand appearance, why make your audience do the math? Keeping it nice and easy while still well-curated is the way to go in terms of time and impact. Our internal content strategy is actually quite simple, keeping it within the 6 question margin.

Who

Who is your target audience? As a business owner it can be difficult to separate yourself from the equation. The first thing you need to know is; You are not your target audience. It’s a difficult concept to swallow but a necessary one to understand before finding success in marketing. Take the time to really hammer down who you are marketing to, get super specific and super broad with it to really refine the bigger picture. If your target audience is predominantly female, your content should follow that pattern. Or if it’s made up of people over the age of 40, your content plan should reflect that by incorporating methods specific to this viewer profile.

What

What are you posting? Is it an internal piece of media? An external link to a blog? Before even considering it as a part of your content calendar, be sure to identify what it is that you’re publishing. While this step seems a bit repetitive, referring to the Who section of this blog can help highlight why this step is important. If you can’t identify what it is that you’re posting, how will your audience be able to do the same?

Where

This one is a bit more complex. Our first thought is regarding where the actual content is coming from, whether it was internally created by a member of your team or if it is outsourced. The next phase of “Where” falls under the geography sector. Is this update geographically specific? If so, does it apply to other regions as well? These are all questions that should be answered prior to publishing.

In addition to geography and content sourcing, “Where” also applies to what platform you choose to use. While Twitter has a strict 140 Character limit, Facebook is basically unlimited. But that doesn’t mean you should divide your content…just optimize it! By writing your post for Facebook first, you can get the full scope of what you’re looking to iterate. Once that is completed and solid, taking that content and reformatting it for Twitter comes next. We prefer this method so that you can ensure the top piece of actual content is being showcased as opposed to a watered-down version of your Facebook post.

When

Peak hours for posting. Google that. This is the 1 form of oversaturated data that might actually be accurate. Look into what the best times for posting are, segmented by platform, time zone, and industry. If a considerable chunk of your audience is in New York but you’re a Los Angeles person, you should be gearing your posts to hit at peak east coast times. The same goes for industry. If you’re a specialty coffee roaster…the game is yours, people are constantly seeking coffee content. But let’s say you’re a professional architect, the vast majority of your audience will have a similar work schedule to you, making lunch time or late afternoon the best slot to publish for ample engagement.

Why

Why are you posting this? Why is this a piece of our content calendar? Another complex question with a simple approachability. It’s easy to think whatever you plan to share has substance, but why? Layout a quick analysis of the thought process behind the content and connect that basis to the questions above. The answer to why should always have to do with providing something for your audience, not the other way around.

If you’re dealing with content that is based in an internal event or update, identify why it is important to share. Maybe you bring your dog to the office and you want to share it for the purpose of sharing company culture with your audience. Or if you’re hosting an event, try gearing your verbiage towards what it has to do with your viewers interest in you as opposed to simply promoting the event itself.

How

At this stage in the content planning process you should have a firm grasp on the elements behind each of your scheduled content pieces. But before hitting that “Send Now” button, ask the final question…how? How will publishing this encourage healthy brand engagement? How does this support our brand image? How will this content be perceived? Any loose ends you may not have identified in the first 5 questions can be knocked out in this final stage.

Using the question how before the rest of your steps can be a useful method too. Instead of using it as a way to wrap up the details, you can start by asking higher level questions like: How can we make this insight more attractive to readers? By starting at the top, you can begin to more easily narrow down the following stages in your planning process.

Well, that was a lot of planning.

But when you hit the ground running, you’ll find taking the time to answer each of these questions is much faster than breaking them down for a blog. Creating unique content every week or on the fly can be tiring and become overwhelming, so having all the streamlining tips you can will save you time and energy, all while bringing in new traffic. Rather than using this guide as a rigid form of rules, take it as a creative problem solving tool when content planning gets rough.