content strategy for nonprofits

Nonprofits Need a Content Strategy — Part 1

This two-part post starts with a definition of content strategy and reveals the first steps to create a content strategy for your organization.

Embrace the Power of Multichannel

The term “content strategy” can be hard to get your arms around in our multi-channel world. Videos are content! Blog posts are content! Quizzes are content! And then when you add the idea of “strategizing” those various items, it’s no wonder that most people feel overwhelmed.  Let’s break it down into some basic pieces, shall we?

Content (noun): The subjects or topics covered in a document, web page, email message or post.

Organizations use content to get people engaged with their brands. Good content gets people interested in an organization, builds a rapport and trust between people and the organization, and helps them develop an affinity for and loyalty to an organization.

We all know there’s a difference between “content” and “GREAT content!”  Great content is designed to cause an action or reaction through education, inspiration, or entertainment. This means that not only is your blog post “5 Ways Your Donations Help Kids” content, a video about a troubled youth who becomes a community leader is content, as is an interactive quiz about “What Kind of African Animal Are You?”.  People work hardest for and donate most to organizations they feel connected to. Great content – with a strategy behind it – helps to makes that happen.

Strategy (noun):  A
plan, method, or series of maneuvers for obtaining a specific goal or result.
 In this case, then, content strategy is the plan for how you’ll use content to help further your organization’s mission and meet your online engagement goals. It’s not just how you’ll use content, it’s what content you’ll use. Which content, and what channel, is going to resonate most with your target audience and move them to engage with your organization?  

Now that we’ve got a solid handle on the concepts — where to start?

Step #1: Assemble Your Content Team

Before you can begin making a strategic content plan, it’s important to understand who the involved parties are inside (and potentially outside) your organization. Even if you’re the only person in charge of content, it’s unlikely you’re the only person who has a stake in what gets created and shared with the public. More likely, others will need to contribute to your content strategy, and probably weigh in on or create individual pieces of content. Figuring out the roles and responsibilities early on is critically important to building a strategy that gets full support throughout your organization.

Step #2: Content Strategy Starts with the Big Picture

News flash! If your content is for everyone, it’s not really for anyone.  It pays to be discerning. You can’t figure out what pieces of content you’ll need until you know the audience and why you’re publishing content for them. It’s tempting to start brainstorming content ideas right away, but your content will be much more effective if you base your strategy on the answers to these questions:

  • What does our content need to do?
    • There are probably several answers to this question. For example, one goal might be to grow your email list by educating people about your organization. You may want to convince social media followers to visit your website and send a message to an elected official. You may have a new campaign to convert one time donors to become monthly supporters.  Generate a list of the actions you hope to prompt with your content strategy, and don’t forget to set some early metrics for the results you expect to see.
  • Who is our audience?
    • To figure out the best ways to communicate with your audience, you need to know who your audience is and how they interact with you. How old is your target audience? What percentage is male and what percentage is female? Where do they live? What’s their personal relationship with your organization/cause? What social media sites do they use most?  Google Analytics can be a rich source of data, as can your social media metrics. It’s a lot of information to gather, but it’s all crucial to crafting effective content.
  • What assets do we have?
    • What human resources do you have at your disposal? Do you have good writers on your team? Or someone who knows how to create professional-looking videos? Do you have the equipment to make a podcast or resources to pay for someone to create infographics? There’s a lot you can do in-house, but most organizations will need to define a budget to create compelling content.
  • What types of content are most likely to resonate with our audience?
    • Much, if not all, of the answer to this question is going to come from the information you uncovered about your audience. You want to create the kinds of content your audience already likes to interact with on the sites/channels they already visit.
  • What’s the timeframe for making changes?
    • One tip for making an actionable plan from your strategy is to strive for a balance of 80% evergreen content with the other 20% designed to be time-sensitive and updated regularly. If you’re doing a big sweeping update to your content, be prepared for this to take several months. If you’re looking for a good place to begin, try to focus on the 20% — it’s more likely that this timely content will result in a lift in engagement and conversion.

It’s super important to share your initial strategy with stakeholders in your organization! Get agreement up front and you can respond to off-plan requests with a solid rationale behind you.

Feeling confident about how to start?  Great!  Join us next week as we review the next steps!

Looking for some more in-depth guidance? Set up your free consultation call today. 

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