Content strategy with Islay O’Hara PR & Marketing

Islay OHara digital content PR & Marketing

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Islay O’hara is a PR and Marketing consultant based in Tunbridge Wells. Following a previous chat with Islay about blogging, content and digital marketing, I had more questions. We decided to meet up at a local Cafe in Tunbridge Wells and I recorded Islay’s advice.

Listen to the audio version here

Here’s the transcription of the audio file:

How important is good content for the web?

Good quality writing and your choice of words is Key, because your website is your window to your customers. So you need to know who your customers are and what they are looking for. You need to make sure you’re talking to them in words they understand. Dropbox for example, uses the word ‘Stuff’. We all know what stuff is! They don’t talk in terms of technical words because they’re talking to people like me who aren’t technical. Use words that connect with your audience, imagine that you are them and how they would read your site.

The fundamental difference between writing for the web and writing for traditional media is that on the web, you are in control of your message. In traditional media you will often have to follow editorial guidelines and the editor or the sub-editor will have an influence on what you write. When you write for your own website, you are your own editor and publisher. If you write on the web, you’re a publisher. If you publish on social media, you are a marketeer. You are in control of your message. That’s the fundamental difference between writing for traditional media and the web.

On your website, you have the opportunity to talk about what you want to talk about. You always have to remember that you’re talking to an audience, you have to envisage how the audience is receiving your message.

What do you advise clients for frequency of updates for email campaigns, blog posts, tweets and other social media?

The most important thing in social media is consistency. Consistency of message; so know what you’re going to say and make every post or Tweet count. This should all be tied in with your overall communications strategy. If you don’t have a communications strategy, spend a day with a Public Relations consultant so they can define that for you. I would always suggest that you have a social media calendar. There are various planning tools and you can do this whichever way is suitable for your business. Use a calendar to make sure you know what you’re posting in terms of content.

How often should you post?

Because I’ve said make every post count, make sure you have something to say! If you’re writing an email newsletter, make sure you have something of interest for your audience. Don’t just send them something just of the sake of sending them something. It might work better for you to have a quarterly or bi-monthly newsletter. But what ever you choose, keep it consistent. For blog posts I’d advise at least once a week. For Twitter I think current best practice would be Tweeting about 5 times a day. Because Twitter is high volume and not necessarily high value, you can use it a bit more.

Do you think more than 5 Tweets a day would be too much?

That depends on your time. You could do more but you’ll need to consider that it could look as if you don’t have enough work to do! If Pinterest is the right platform for you, it’s also high-volume so you could do four posts a day. Instagram, you could do two or three posts a day. Facebook and LinkedIn, one post a day. For LinkedIn, quality is everything. If you don’t post quality content on LinkedIn, the comments can be merciless! Know why you’re posting, and who you’re posting to! Make it part of your overall communications strategy.

Ok but with that many posts on that many channels, you’d need a whole team of people!

Yes, that’s absolutely right. You need to figure out the best channels for you in terms of where your audience is. If most of your audience is on Facebook then that’s the channel for you. If your audience is more in the creative field then maybe Pinterest or Instagram. For the more educational, academic or technical, LinkedIn. Think about what you’re trying to achieve with your audience. This goes for all your writing and posts. Do you want to motivate them? Do you want to inspire them to action, do you want to educate and motivate them? This will help shape your writing.

How do you deal with ‘slow news day’, when a client feels that they might not have much to say?

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that there should never be a slow news day! The way you never have a slow news day is through planning. I always recommend to my clients that they have a social media calendar and every blog post is planned. Think about how often you want to post. I’d recommend a four month social media calendar and for that, choose four themes. Every business will have an over-arching theme for what they do.

For example, if I was writing about public speaking, I might choose as one of my Themes, ‘How to overcome fears of public speaking’. This would be my theme for one month. Breaking this down further into four parts, the first blog post title would be ‘practical ways to overcome nerves’. I’d recommend writing at least eight hundred to a thousand words for every post.

Current thinking is to even push your blog post to over a thousand words.  This is a suitable length to be credible in your field but also gives you great resources for social media posts. During that first week I would break that blog post down into maybe twenty Tweets.  If you’re making five Facebook posts in a week, you could make four related to your weeks blog. The fifth could be promotional post to your own work or maybe link to another blog with a related subject.

In terms of how often to post promotional posts you should think of a ratio of about one in four.  Your promotional posts can be some kind of news or useful information about your work. Remember that you’re always trying to educate, inform and engage. It will take a day or two to plan this all out either by yourself or with another person, but it’ll save your so much time in the future. Follow this and you’ll never have a slow news day!

How do you deal with ‘dry subjects’ like an electrician business for instance?

I’ve never worked with a business owner who doesn’t have plenty to say about their own company. It’s not dry to the people that are visiting the site because they’re visiting to find out more. You’re not communicating to the whole world, you are trying to reach your target audience. Your target audience is interested in what you have to say! If you know what your target audience is and what there problems are, it’s not going to be a dry subject to them!

One last point, use Google analytics! Ok because a few weeks ago I said it was a pain!

Yes, you need to get familiar with Google Analytics because if you’re doing something wrong on your blog, you’ll know because no-one is visiting your post! The whole point of social media campaigns are to bring visitors to your website.  If this is the case, you’ll need to adjust your strategy and make some changes or try a different platform.  Social media should be raising awareness of your business and products.

The point of social media strategy is to raise awareness of your business and product, bringing visitors back to your website.  You can monitor the traffic coming from those social media channels so you’ll know the time and frequency of visits.

Make every post count, know your audience and learn Google Analytics.

If you’d like some more first-hand advice from Islay, please find more details at www.islayohara.co.uk

Listen to the interview: