You have a million tech tools at your fingertips, but they all seem to be heading in different directions. You know you could leverage more AI and automation to speed up your research, analytics, workflow, and content creation. But without a polished content strategy, you’re afraid you’ll end up doing all the wrong things much faster.
Technology can be a great way to get your message across, but it requires human content experts to focus on. Here are three ways to speed up your content production while staying efficient and on message.
1. Hire or partner with top content talent
Any solid content strategy starts with hiring top talent. You need writers who understand your brand and can develop the right plan of attack. If you have the budget, hiring an in-house content team has its benefits. You have more control and can work directly with your team to deliver deliverables faster. Content creators can meet with departments like marketing and design to develop unified concepts or bounce around ideas.
Hiring contractors can be more cost-effective, especially if your content needs are relatively limited. But working directly with freelancers comes with an extra workload that your team may not be equipped for. Someone will need to source and vet talent, provide advice and, of course, handle the bills. For every freelancer you hire, you add additional relationship management tasks. You also give them access to the company’s secret sauce: sharing data, files and messages that would otherwise remain internal.
Many companies find a happy medium by working with specialized content agencies who can screen and hire talent to create content on your behalf. They will also work with your team to develop a tailored content strategy that meets your organizational goals. It’s less convenient than having your own content team, but you still have plenty of opportunities to offer feedback and request edits.
2. Audit and optimize your content
Once you’ve decided how your content team should operate, it’s time to do a content audit. The team can assess all your existing content (web pages, blog posts, social media, case studies, videos) and flag anything that needs updating. Once they determine the missing areas, they can define areas of interest to generate new content. Using tools like Ahrefs or BuzzSumo, the team can assess keyword usage and other metrics that may be affecting your search traffic.
After the audit, a good content team will develop a strategy that best suits your brand and your budget. Before jumping in to fill in the gaps, they’ll figure out which changes will yield the most ROI. For example, your website may already have great content, but your audit data shows that no one is reading it. Instead of investing in freelance talent to drive more posts, you can focus on changing your internal linking practices. Then, once you’ve increased your web traffic, you can budget for new items.
An effective content audit and strategy allows your team to prioritize updates and additions in order of urgency and effectiveness. They can decide which elements need slight editing and link updates, which need to be rewritten, and which need to be removed. Since they will work on the most crucial projects first, you should start seeing results immediately.
3. Create and refine your style guide
Whatever shape your content team takes, you need an up-to-date corporate style guide that documents your company’s standards for writing and formatting documents. These standards ensure that your tone and style are consistent, which lends credibility to your brand. Readers can be sure they’re getting expert advice in a uniform, authoritative voice.
First, a good style guide should define which of the major style manuals writers should rely on for general reference. Next, it should list any major deviations in spelling, grammar, or style rules that the company uses. Next, it should list all commonly used words or phrases that can be spelled in more than one way. For example, the guide should tell content teams whether to write “Covid-19,” “COVID-19,” or “the coronavirus.” Finally, it should include instructions on tone, such as the degree of formality or whether or not to use first-person statements.
A style guide is not just the tool of a needy grammarian. It’s a way to give your business a consistent brand identity, regardless of who wrote your content. A style guide saves time by giving content creators a document to turn to with questions, avoiding unnecessary feedback loops. Whether most of your content is written by freelancers or an in-house team, a style guide can resolve discrepancies and help them use a unified voice.
Voice, vision and values
So many strategies and tools exist to help your brand establish and transmit its voice. But ultimately, great content should align with your company’s vision and values. Keep your message consistent with the promise your brand has always offered to prospects and customers. Remind your reader why they keep coming back to your brand and connecting with their mission. Technology tools can speed up processes, but only human authenticity and engagement will drive true brand loyalty.