Q4 is already coming to an end — somehow — and that means planning your content strategy for 2022 should be at the top of your list.
With a more crowded digital landscape than ever, executing an effective content strategy that reaches your audience and entices them to take action requires more preparation, understanding and effort than ever.
Changes in Buying Behavior
You may or may not have noticed, but we’re about to enter the third year of life impacted by a pandemic. Although infections are dropping, vaccination rates are rising and things are generally getting back to normal, the impacts of the pandemic on buying behavior are still extremely prevalent.
Chief amongst these changes is the flocking to e-commerce as many people’s primary way to shop. In early 2020, we saw massive demographic changes, with people who would typically shop in person going online to make their purchases, and that hasn’t changed.
As a result, businesses who traditionally may have spent less on online content found themselves diverting the majority of their marketing budget to online advertising and content. This shift toward e-comm made every vertical more crowded and more competitive almost overnight — and there has only been more desire for more content.
With that in mind, it’s more important than ever for your brand to be holistic in your thinking when it comes to your 2022 content strategy.
In order to stand out and improve conversions against your competitors, you can’t just throw together a plan; you have to go the extra mile to reach the right audience with the right content.
A (Not So) Simple 3-Step Plan For Successful Content
At a high level, creating a winning content strategy for 2022 is quite simple. It requires you to know your audience well, to create content that they will engage with, and to continue engaging with them throughout the process.
Step 1: Identify your audience and really get to know them
Step 2: Create content that will stand out amongst your competitors & speak to your audience directly
Step 3: Engage with your customers in every step of the process
Get To Know Your Audience
Getting to know your audience is easier now than it has ever been. You are probably (hopefully) already familiar with your audience through quantitative measures — data that content platforms like Google and Facebook provide.
These quantitative measures are a great jumping off point. They’ll tell you who your audience is, their age, gender, income, interests, and most importantly — who to focus your efforts towards by identifying your core purchasers. By knowing the specifics of your highest-value audience, you can target them and tailor your messaging and visuals to attract and engage this audience.
For many businesses, a quantitative understanding of your audience is where this step in the process ends. What sets successful content apart from mediocre or bad content is a qualitative understanding of your audience. This is getting to know your audience personally, through interviews, surveys or other emotion-based feedback.
Unlike the emotionless data you can find on your Facebook or Google dashboard, by doing qualitative data collection like interviewing your customers, you can dig into what your audience feels about your product or service — what they love, what they dislike, what they would improve, and so on.
This step allows you to not only understand what your customers really feel about your offering, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn how they speak about your product, so you can mirror that language and emotion when messaging to them in your content. You quite literally learn to speak your customers’ language.
This qualitative review of your customer is a corner that is often cut in the fast pace of content marketing, but it is acrucial step for creating hyper-specific content that will actually speak to your customer base.
After all, people buy things based on emotion, so understanding the emotional aspects of your product or service will give you a massive advantage over your competitors.
Create Content That Will Stand Out
Thanks to your legwork of taking the time and effort to get to know your customer intimately, you are in a good spot to actually start creating content that will resonate with your audience.
The goal now is to stand out amongst the crowd of competitors. Your content has no chance of succeeding if it doesn’t stand out on a crowded timeline.
With more people online than ever, and with more online advertising than ever, people are becoming fatigued by seeing the same thing over and over again, so your goal is to create a visual counterpoint to everything else.
Your customer data and interviews have already laid out what the messaging should be in order to touch the emotions of your target audience — now they just have to see the message.
A good place to start is by analyzing your competitors and looking for ways to differentiate your content from theirs. What are they doing? What aren’t they doing? How long or short is their content? What colors are they using? What models? Are there people in it or not? How product-centric is it? Are they using UGC or is it content with a higher production value?
Really think outside the box here. If you’re a shoe brand, you could try putting your shoes on chickens as a way to get people to stop and pay attention to your brand. Or maybe it’s shoes with humans on their feet. There’s no one solution to this problem — get creative and try a bunch of different things, then use your quantitative data to see what’s working.
The key here is to grab attention right away with photo or within the first 3 seconds of video. Here’s a good example from our brand, Blossom. This video has over 1M reactions and engagement on Facebook alone. You already know your messaging is sound and will speak to your audience. Now you just need to pull them in with striking imagery that serves as a counterpoint to the thousands of images they see on their timeline every day.
At this point, you’ll have created content that catches the eyes of your audience while also hitting the data-driven emotional triggers of potential customers. Now you just have to follow through.
Engage with customers throughout the process
This is something that a lot of businesses (especially small businesses) miss — the follow-up.
Sure, most brands nowadays have a customer service person to handle Instagram comments, shipping problems and so on, but it is crucial for brands to be even more proactive with engaging with their customers after the content has been deployed.
There are two reasons for this. One, an active presence in the comments or in follow-up media can entice prospects that are deep into the funnel to finally commit and become a customer. Two, a lack of follow up can result in lost customers, or worse, a movement against your brand.
We see this especially with Gen Z. This generation of digital natives are also notoriously fickle and will immediately jump from a brand if they feel that they are being neglected or if a brand is being disingenuous. These situations can easily be avoided with active, honest engagement after the content has been deployed.
Across all channels, it’s important to engage throughout the process, from prospecting to servicing repeat customers and beyond. This is where you going the extra mile to truly understand where your audience comes from — you’ll be equipped with the tools and content to reach them properly.
Write captions that fit trends your audience loves. Create memes that your customers find relatable. Engage with problems and earnestly try to fix them. Constantly look for ways to provide additional value to your audience. They will thank you for it.
Furthermore, engaging with your customers before, during and after deployment of your 2022 content is another opportunity for you. Gen Z in particular loves a brand that is earnestly engaged with their customers, so taking the time and effort to communicate and connect with your audience throughout the life cycle of your 2022 content can be a huge brand building opportunity that extends far beyond just the coming calendar year.
You can be that brand that is beloved by your audience because you genuinely care about them — a position of status that very few companies are lucky enough to find themselves in.
No matter your brand, no matter your vertical, there’s no reason your brand can’t deploy a successful content strategy in 2022.