Effective content marketing creates brands with a consistent voice, tone and personality. Your brand's content can be as powerful a mark of your brand as your logo to dedicated readers.
It can be hard to keep these qualities intact if your business is growing with many writers, a content marketing agency that does not have a complete picture of your company and culture, or if freelancers who lack enough guidance are hired to write for you.
A set of brand content marketing guidelines can help you get around this. These guidelines can also be called style or writer's guidelines.
What are Content Marketing Guidelines?
The Content Marketing Guidelines for are guidelines that outline how to communicate your brand's message to your target audience. They include a tone, voice, length, style, and topics.
Let's discuss why this document is important, even for a small business, and how we can do it.
Why create content marketing guidelines?
Your company's voice is extended to every writer you hire to create content for it. One or two writers might be enough to produce enough content in a small business to create a consistent tone that makes a reader feel as though it came from one source.
This is a problem if your agency or writing team has to handle more channels or content production.
Your content marketing will become more confusing and diluted the more channels or writers you include. This could weaken your content marketing, and even cause damage to your brand.
Your content marketing guidelines provide guidelines for your writers that outline the expectations for how the company will present itself on each channel. These guidelines can be thought of as metrics for each piece. You can either throw the piece back to the author for editing or hire a new writer if it doesn't comply with the guidelines.
It is easy to communicate any changes to strategy to your writers if you have a set of guidelines. A simple update to the guidelines can give writers what they need, whether you have new research that shows you need to modify your marketing personas.
If a writer has questions or suggestions about how to improve your content, they can refer to the guidelines for a reference point with their supervisors. Every marketer is not a great writer.
Consider these points when creating your content marketing guidelines
It is important to imagine that your content marketing guidelines are being read by someone who has never heard of your company. Your guidelines are designed to help them get up to speed and make content. What do they need?
They need to be able to identify your brand's unique attributes and USP, as well as the purpose of your content marketing on particular channels and the target audience for your content.
This is all a writer needs to get started nailing their voice. This information is probably in your content strategy documentation. This tells the writer to whom they are writing and why.
If you can make it more detailed, your writers will produce consistent content. These are some points to keep in mind:
Formal Style Guidelines
Are there any style guidelines you would like your writers to use? For example, if you work for a news agency, it may be necessary to follow AP style in order to make your writing feel like a news article. Although most companies aren't required to adhere to this style, it is a good idea to consult an official style guide to get some ideas.
Style for your company
Even if you don’t use a formal guide for style, grammar, and usage, it is possible to have your own specific style. You might prefer American English to British English.
Depending on the audience, you might use simpler words (use instead of utilize) or use jargon (business terminology), depending on what your audience is like. Let your writers know if you love or hate the Oxford Comma!
It is important to set length minimums and maximums for every type of content. This helps writers avoid writing too short or too long pieces for their audience. Find out the preferred content lengths for each type of content.
Example of Tone and Voice
You can use a piece that reflects your style to illustrate the point. An example is more powerful than any vague guidelines on sounding professional. If your content is targeted at a specific niche, you might want to include examples of what to avoid sounding like.
Topics that are preferred and prohibited
It's a good idea to make a list of what you don't want, so that your writers can pitch topics. It could be as simple as a list containing competitors that you don't want to mention and general themes for your content channels.
This also applies to research sources. To avoid awkward conversations later, tell the writer if you don't want a source to be quoted or linked back to in your work.
Your writers might also learn trade secrets and other confidential information.
Many freelance contracts include a section on protecting confidential information.
However, if you don't want something to slip out of your content, like a new product that's about to be launched, let your writers know.
There may be controversial topics in your industry, or you may want to avoid certain topics. These topics may need to be dealt with on a case by case basis. This political zinger may be funny, but it can make the company look bad. A list of topics you will never discuss on social media can prevent a writer from saying something they regret.
Every business has their own ways of wanting to use their products, services and business-specific terminology. Every brand has its own personality and it is what it projects.
Your SEO writers will need to know the keywords and guidelines for keyword placement if you are writing. We're far beyond keyword stuffing. However, if your SEO team requires your writers to concentrate on a strategy, they must know what to do.
Curation and Syndication
Social media editors often have to curate content in order to keep people's attention. You will need to establish guidelines for how social media writers should behave and what types of content you like or share to preserve your brand's voice.
Community Interaction and Response
Guidelines are needed for writers who have to respond to comments on blogs or social media. What should they do with trolls, negative comments and glowing comments that deserve recognition and appreciation?
Your writers should also know what tools you use to check their work, submit and track it, what file formats they must use, and other similar topics. This is especially important if you work with freelancers. This is why it's so important for Windows-only editors to receive a Pages file the first time.
Editors and managers may need to change the rules to accommodate a changing situation or to implement a new content strategy. Writers who are given instructions to do something that is not in the rules should know who has the authority to do so that they can communicate with confidence and ask questions.
You might feel that you are giving away too much information. It is impossible to be more truthful. Writing is subjective and writers don't mind reading. It is easier for writers to create the content they want if you give them as much information as possible.
It's important to not overburden them with tiny rules. This will slow down content production, and make it harder for new writers to catch up. This will make it more difficult for your editors. These guidelines can be useful for editors who don't already have them. Your editors will be the ones who inspect raw content from your authors so they will have insight.
Although great content marketing guidelines will not guarantee great pieces every single time, they can help you spot a lot of issues before the piece is released to the wild.
Marketing Insider Group published the post Content Marketing Guidelines: Why, and How to Create Them.
By: Michael Brenner
Title: Content Marketing Guidelines: Why and How to Create Them
Sourced From: marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/content-marketing-guidelines-why-and-how-to-create-them/
Published Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2022 17:00:00 +0000