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Using the five Ws to shape your content strategy

Most comms conundrums can be solved with the five Ws all journalists hold dear: who, what, why, where and when. And that’s absolutely true when it comes to defining the best channels and content for your business.

So, if you’re wondering whether you should be focusing your content marketing strategy on Facebook or throwing all your sponsored post spend behind LinkedIn, here’s how those five Ws can help you decide.

WHO: Defining your target audience is something every business has to do, but if you’re still using labels like C1, Millennial and pensioner, you’re missing a trick. No-one wants to be defined by their age or salary; we want marketers to think about what matters to us based on how we live our lives, not what we earn, or how many candles were on our last birthday cake.

For example, if you’re a B2B services business whose clients are in their 30s and 40s, don’t assume that Facebook will generate you the most leads just because it’s the preferred channel of people in that particular tick box. Most of us use Facebook to keep up with friends and engage with consumer brands; no one really wants business services you’d buy at work to bump that cute cat GIF down your timeline.

So be absolutely clear on your target audience's interests and need state before you start posting, to make sure you've got the content, tone and channel bang on.

WHAT: A good content strategy is generally a varied one, mixing mediums, voices and channels.

Content marketing is all about the long game, and you really need to plan before you start posting. That doesn’t mean creating loads of new content at a huge expense; it’s perfectly acceptable to rejig and repurpose existing content, or recreate it in video or podcast form, but you have to have a clear goal in mind. It's not enough to simply be present on social media any more.

All marketing strategies should support your commercial strategy, and your content should flow naturally from that. By all means post tactically when you've got something relevant to say on the big topics of today. But make sure you have a big theme or a couple of focused topics that you can create content for in advance, to prevent a last-minute scramble.

WHY: Before you click ‘post’ on any channel, ask yourself why you’re posting it. Does it fit with what you know your customers engage with and are interested in? Have you seen good engagement with similar posts? Does it tap in to what’s happening in the news and your customer’s lives right now? Does it take you a step closer to delivering that long-term goal? Or do you just feel like you should be ‘out there’?

It’s really easy to get caught up in your own agenda and to feel as though you have to post something, but every post should have a purpose, whether that’s to inform, encourage and interaction or simply lighten the audience’s day. It's OK to post tactically, if there's a timely topic you can add value on. Just make sure you have a big picture to focus on too.

SEE THE BIG PICTURE: Create a strategic content plan with clear goals and timings.

WHERE: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using every social channel going, as long as you don’t spread yourself too thin. Define what you’re going to be sharing based on your business objectives, and prioritise your social media channels with that in mind. Don’t try to be everywhere, or you might end up getting nowhere.

If you’re a yoga practitioner focusing on encouraging people from your local area to join a class, Facebook is the obvious choice, with the likes of Instagram and Twitter helping to build a broader picture of your brand. If you’re a professional services firm focused on bringing in B2B clients, Facebook is great to have, but LinkedIn is likely to generate more leads if your content is useful, engaging and insightful.

WHEN: When to post can be a tricky one, especially if you’re a B2B business. But as with any communication, it’s about putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. When are they most likely to be scrolling on a break? Do you want to get them at work or while they’re winding down watching TV? If you’re talking to parents, when might they be sitting in the car waiting for school to kick out?

If you can’t be sure when your target audience is most active, try A/B testing – releasing the same content at different times and monitoring engagement to give you a clearer idea of when your content is most visible.

Need help defining your channel and content strategy, or some support creating content? Drop us a line at

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