I was recently browsing around some competitor websites looking at their linkbait (that’s articles they write and post hoping for sharing) and came across “5 Steps to Develop a Content Strategy.”
Now, I am as much a sucker for numbered lists as anyone else on the internet, so I read through it, and step 4 stood out to me. It read: “Develop and execute your strategy.” Seems like if “come up with a plan and do it” is step 4, the first three steps aren’t going to be very meaningful. Anyway I found and read it, so it probably got them some links and traffic they were looking for.
If you read the same article I did, you still don’t actually know how to do the thing it was supposed to be teaching you. Here’s an actual list:
Set some goals.
Do you even know why you need to be creating content? Yeah, I know. Not a lot of people like to spend time writing nonsense for websites instead of seeing patients. Well, here’s the thing: if you don’t, your website is nothing but an island. Maybe not even as effective as a yellow pages ad. You must generate fresh content in order to keep your website vital, to build yourself as an authority online, build a social following (which you also need, as fans go out and give you positive reviews either to their friends or on Yelp, Vitals, etc)
Easymode: Use someone else’s goalposts. Find a practice in your field in another city that seems to be tearing it up, either because they have a marketing team or because the doctor is a charismatic, prolific online presence. Make it your goal to have that many Facebook friends, that many Twitter followers, and to post new content on your website as often as that practice.
Use someone else’s goalposts. Find a practice in your field in another city that seems to be tearing it up…
Collect topics to write about.
You’re reading the journals anyway. Just jot down “study links childhood asthma to sleep apnea” or whatever pops up and you’ll always have a list to go back to when you’re stuck for a subject.
Easymode: Feel free to reference, post links to, and comment upon existing content. As someone in the medical field, your opinion holds value and even an “I concur with this Times report” can be as meaningful in establishing authority as 500 words.
Figure out where the content is going to exist.
Where will you be putting this content you create? Depending on who your audience is (and content can be for one of a number of audiences – patients, technical and non-technical pieces) you will want to send out the piece in different ways to different audiences. While I’m a fan of any kind of content (it’s all useful), I’m not sure the average Facebook-connected user is going to read too deeply an article about the B-Cell Receptor.
Easymode: Automate and schedule tweets, facebook posts based on your blog content. Yeah, computers can do that for you. It gets a little clumsy when you see a tweet say just part of a headline “study links childhood asthma to sl…” and it’s often not optimal to communicate artificially like this but for a busy practice it can be done.
Put that sucker out there! Make sure to monitor the conversations that develop on your site, and the social networks. This will allow you to answer questions, maybe conceive a follow-up piece if it’s something readers seem really into. I’ve seen so many great comments on blog pieces rot in the approval queue in WordPress. Writing the thing is only half the job; the other half is nurturing a reaction and engaging your readers.
Easymode: Let us do this part. Seriously, once we have content in our hands, there is so much we can do to build your audience through different article submissions site, a little rewriting here or there and you might have a press release opportunity, and we know how to present things in an appealing way for each of the various outlets like Facebook.
Don’t give up!
This is going to be the toughest step. Starting out, the work you do exists in a vacuum. Google hasn’t indexed your latest blog posts, no extra traffic is coming in, you have four Twitter followers and they‘re all aspiring hip-hop artists who are following 25,000 people. Well, this stuff takes time to grow (which is another reason not to ignore your following.) It can take months, even years for a solid content strategy to entrench your web presence as a leader. We say “Google likes old sites, and new words” so consider the discipline necessary to keep at creating content without immediate reward, and realize that once that B-Cell Receptor piece goes live, it’s always going to be there to be found.
You can buy traffic. Create small PPC campaigns for your best articles
Easymode: Supplement content strategy with Pay-Per-Click. Or, you can buy traffic. Every article you write is about something, so why not dump a small amount into a PPC campaign based on the keywords in the article? This will deliver you targeted traffic that you know is interested in your writing, and if you’ve created compelling content, they just might help pollinate other good sites with it. Also, Facebook traction can really hard to get without an ad budget (on purpose, I am sure) so unless you’re out there pushing your FB page to every patient in the office, the best way to target locals that you want to contact is by putting a few bucks into Zuck’s pocket.
Always include a call to action.
You are selling something, after all. Invite readers to contact your office for an appointment. Invite them to post questions in the comments. Or better, ask them a question! A simple “have you found this to be a rougher allergy season than normal? goes a long way to getting people’s ears to perk up and start a conversation.
Easymode: Consider boilerplate text to drop in when you can. I don’t know, something like “If you’re overwhelmed, SEOWard does all these things and more for practices nationwide, so give us a call at 347-559-4802 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put together a dynamite plan to make your content strategy a success.”