You have a million tech tools at your fingertips, but they all seem to be veering off in different directions. You know you could be taking more advantage of AI and automation to speed up your research, analysis, workflows and content creation. But without a refined content strategy, you’re afraid you’ll just end up doing all the wrong things a lot faster.
Technology can be a great way to get your message out, but it requires human content experts to provide the focus. 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 engaging 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 advantages. You have more oversight and can work directly with your team to turn deliverables around faster. Content creators can meet with departments like marketing and design to develop unified concepts or bounce around ideas.
Hiring contract workers can be more cost-effective, especially if your content needs are relatively limited. But working directly with freelancers brings on additional workload your team might not be equipped to deal with. Someone will have to source and vet talent, provide guidance and, of course, deal with invoices. For each freelancer you take on, you’re adding additional relationship management tasks. You’re also giving them access to the company’s secret sauce—sharing data, files and messaging that would otherwise stay internal.
Many companies find a happy medium by working with specialized content agencies that can screen and hire talent to create content on your behalf. They’ll also work with your team to develop a bespoke content strategy that meets your organizational goals. It’s less hands-on than having your own content team, but you still get plenty of opportunities to offer feedback and request changes.
2. Audit and Optimize Your Content
Once you’ve decided how your content team should operate, it’s time for a content audit. The team can evaluate all your existing content—webpages, blog posts, social media, case studies, videos—and flag anything that needs a refresh. Once they determine what areas are lacking, they’ll be able to define focus areas for generating new content. Using tools like Ahrefs or BuzzSumo, the team can assess keyword usage and other metrics that may affect your search traffic.
After the audit, a good content team will develop a strategy that works best for your brand and budget. Before jumping in to fill in any gaps, they’ll determine which changes will produce the most ROI. For example, maybe your website is already packed with great content, but your audit data shows no one is reading it. Instead of investing in freelance talent to generate more posts, you could focus on tweaking your internal linking practices. Then, once you’ve driven your web traffic up, you can budget for new pieces.
Effective content auditing and strategy enable your team to prioritize updates and additions in order of urgency and effectiveness. They can decide which pieces need a light edit and link update, which need to be rewritten and which should be retired. Since they’ll work on the most crucial projects first, you should start to see results right away.
3. Craft and Refine Your Style Guide
Whatever form your content team takes, you need an up-to-date company style guide that documents your company’s standards for writing and formatting documents. These standards keep your tone and style consistent, lending credibility to your brand. Readers can trust that they’re getting expert advice from a uniform, authoritative voice.
First of all, a good style guide should define which of the major style manuals writers should rely on for general reference. Then it should list any major deviations in spelling, grammar or style rules that the company uses. Next, it should list any commonly used words or phrases that might be written in multiple ways. For example, the guide should let content teams know 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 isn’t just a stodgy grammarian’s tool. It’s a way to give your company a cohesive brand identity, regardless of who’s writing your content. A style guide saves time by giving content creators a document to turn to with questions, thereby avoiding unnecessary feedback loops. Whether the bulk of your content is written by freelancers or an internal 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 at the end of the day, great content must align with your company’s vision and values. Keep your messaging 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 connect with its mission. Tech tools can make processes faster, but only human authenticity and engagement will elicit true brand loyalty.