Planning a content strategy

Posted on Mar 19, 2015
Planning a content strategy

Content marketing is box office in digital strategy right now. Once you cut through the hype, however, you’ll find a powerful, intuitive marketing tool to build your share of voice, user-communities and thought-leader positions. For digital healthcare space, it couldn’t find a more harmonious potential.

So what is content marketing?

Put simply, it’s the creation and distribution of information to nurture, engage and influence a target audience on a specific topic, theme or category. In short, it doesn’t sell, it informs, entertains, educates and motivates. It can take any form and not necessarily online. Popular channels include films, web blogs, infographics, e-newsletters, social media discussions and even more traditional routes such as printed publications.

Why such rapid growth?

There’s an undoubted element of hype here. Marketing is notorious for plugging themes to create new things to sell. However, there are some genuine shifts in digital marketing driving this demand.

The new SEO era

Google is moving the axis in SEO tactics. Without drilling into the detail, old school methods, such as keywording and linking are losing weight as new algorithms place more importance on content and its relevance to what users are really looking for.

The decline of the classic web model

The classic search-to-web model has declined as social media has fragmented the way we access content. If we want our content to be seen, we have to get it to travel.

Smarter social media

Gone is the era of chasing Facebook likes for unrewarding posts and comments. Social media is growing-up into a channel for users to engage, share and take-part in experiences.

Content marketing provides a logical dashboard to build online relationships. Undoubtedly we’ll see a tidal wave of material crashing through competitive space; much of it superfluous. So perhaps it’s even more vital for marketing strategies to embrace it, cut through the noise and build genuine resources.

These aren’t 7 commandments of healthcare content marketing. However, these are helpful pointers to consider in building and maintaining a healthy content strategy.

1. In their words…

You’re not creating content for the sake of content. You’re looking to build a position in hearts and minds. Users apply their own lens to any content they consume. They want to know how relevant it is to them, what it means to them and how it advances, assures and educates their needs. They’re not going to unravel detailed content to find the answers they’re looking for.

Content needs to build a relationship by understanding the rational and emotional drivers within an audience and the more you connect with these, the more credible your dialogue becomes.

2. Nothing travels better than film

Healthcare is about better life outcomes and possibly more than any other category, this is about the human condition. Nothing is more dynamic than film in presenting information, ideas, discussion and stories for audiences to consume.

With the right production values, genuine scripts, intuitive storytelling, film becomes absolute dynamite in content space.

3. Use social media communities to move your content

However your communities are built, they can provide valuable momentum to move content across new user communities. Furthermore, their input can amplify the credibility of what you say.

4. Build an instinct for differing user profiles

In social media space, users consume, engage and share content in different ways. Without drilling into the detail here, it’s important you build an instinct for these differing behaviours and get to know your most important content ‘advocates’.

Using this insight, content can be produced, segmented and packaged to appeal to different user needs.

5. Make it eventful

Audiences aren’t a passive collective silently grazing on information. They want to take part and good content creates ways to motivate users to expend effort for reward.

Event-based campaigns disrupt and motivate audiences to take-part. Be these health-management challenges (such as post-holiday detoxing) or tapping into key media themes (obesity, cancer), content builds external momentum and travels greater distances.

Furthermore, extending campaigns into offline events builds rich content to extend online engagement and coverage.

6. Be interactive

Building on point 5, audiences want to engage and take-part. Very basic technology and applications can provide users with valuable resources, affirming your authority across key themes and topics.

Good examples are health outcome calculators; getting users to scrutinize their existing health management and explore the potential outcomes from simple behavioural changes.

7. Build trust above anything else

Many commentators consider true content marketing avoids any attempt to influence audiences around specific features and benefits. At that point, content becomes copy.

Of course, any strategy like this costs and needs to show a return at some point in the investment. So it’s important for audiences to build trust in your resources, assured they’re accessing authoritative and well-researched information.

The challenge is to nurture this trust generated in a content climate, to support commercial channels in parallel to your efforts.