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Evaluating your content strategy

Nonprofits Need a Content Strategy — Part 2

Part 2 of our post gives you the remaining steps to flesh out an effective content strategy for your organization. Did you miss Part 1? You can find that right here.

Step #3: Create a Content Inventory

You probably have a good amount of content on your website, printed materials like annual reports, on social media and in other places. If you don’t have a running inventory of your website content (most organizations don’t!), now is the time to start. Knowing what text, images and other pieces you already have can save you some work as you put together your plan. Firefly recommends using Excel or a Google Doc.

Dig into your website and, if applicable, your social media profiles. List out the content, where you found it, and then sort it into one of three editing categories:  

  • Requires edits — it’s mostly good/useful content, but it needs a few edits to update it or make it more useful
  • Needs to be removed — the content isn’t accurate, doesn’t reflect your organization or your organization’s goals, or doesn’t reflect your content strategy
  • Useful As-Is — the content is a perfect match for your content strategy and you could re-feature it exactly the way it is

Your inventory should include these editing categories along with a bit of additional information like the date the content was last updated, where it’s being used, and who originally created it. This data will help you figure out what work needs to be done to your existing content, and by whom.

Step #4: Strategically Fill in the Blanks

Now that you know the goals for your content and what content you already have, it’s time to fill the gaps. What topics or channels are you missing? What stories do you have to tell that you haven’t told yet? And what are the different ways you could convey these for greatest impact?

These sound like three simple questions, but answering them may take time. After all, the answers to these questions will guide the content you’ll create for at least the next several months!

Set aside some time to do some serious thinking about what content you need. If possible, involve one or two other people from your organization to help you brainstorm. Remember: all of your content ideas should be items that your target audience will want to interact with, and should all help to meet your online engagement goals. 

Step #4: Create a Content or Editorial Calendar

You’ve thought deeply about your audience and determined your messaging goals. You have a clear idea of what content you already have. You know what content you need to create. Now, it’s time to put together your editorial calendar! (Here are a few editorial calendar resources.) Not sure what timeframe to use? Try spanning 3-6 months, monitor and adjust based on your experiences. 

Your editorial calendar can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like, and should also list the people responsible for different tasks and their due dates.  Content responsibilities can include: content creation or revision, review and final approval, publication, and removal if the content will have a defined lifecycle.

For 80% of your content, you may never need to edit or remove it once it’s been posted (ex. blog posts). Remember, that potentially 20% of your content may get updated over time and some may need to be removed or relocated (ex. homepage promotion for an upcoming event). You’ll want to factor those tasks into your calendar, too.

Your content calendar should help organize you, allowing you to plan and prepare for the work ahead. But your editorial calendar also needs to be flexible. Did something happen in the news that you need to respond to immediately? Being timely with fresh content keeps you relevant and users engaged. Having a plan allows you to easily shift when opportunities for new content arise.

Step #5: Track Your Results

Imagine this scenario: You’ve put together your editorial calendar for the next 6 months and begun executing on it. But now you’re getting requests from others in your organization:

“This needs to be on the homepage.”

“We need to talk about our programs more than once a month.”

“Why are you removing that page?”

Remember when you assembled that content team and shared your initial strategy?  Life happens, but you don’t want to toss your whole plan out the window when something changes.  Being prepared with data to back up your decisions can make those discussions much easier. Here are a few data points you should be tracking:

  • Top 10 most visited pages
  • Top 10 shared blog posts
  • Number of pages/posts people view per visit
  • Number of shares, likes and followers for your social media posts
  • Number of resource downloads and video views

Schedule a regular performance review of your content and track this information.  Share it around your organization.   This data will help you (and members of your team) understand what’s working and respond appropriately.

Remember, setting and working with a content strategy is an ongoing process. You need to regularly evaluate your plan and your results to make sure you’re on the right track. Feeling like you got this?  Make time to gather ideas for fresh content that takes it to the next level. You need to keep your content relevant, engaging, and fresh to keep your audience interested. Having a content strategy and calendar in place will help make that much easier to achieve!

Do you have a similar process or another great content strategy tip? Share with us in the comments below!

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