Business Web Content Strategy Starts with Your Boundaries
My last post introduced the idea that when you create boundaries for your web content, you free yourself to participate in social networking and social media. Knowing and getting comfortable with the subjects and topics you’ll address on specific web properties will increase your confidence, benefit your target audiences, and better represent your brand.
If you’ve been following along, by now you have:
- identified and joined the web properties that you’ll create content for,
- developed a better understanding of your target audiences on each of those properties,
- pinpointed your business purpose for using each web property,
- defined the overall subject matter categories that you want to address,
- begun to identify particular topics you’ll address on each web property
- aligned your potential contributions with what matters to your audiences
- determined your goals for interacting on each web property*
But we’re not finished yet—the best mapping fun is still to come.
Mapping Your Web Content Boundaries Phase 3
The beauty of the mapping process lies in its utility, flexibility, and adaptability. You can create literal maps, figurative maps, or anything in-between. Map with words, map with images, or even map with Post-its.
Shifting Your Perspective & Standpoint Can Lead to Better Web Content
Let’s start with a Post-it approach. As social scientists, we like to take advantage of the powerful nature of shifting perspectives and explore the differences that emerge when we approach a process or idea from different standpoints. In this case, developing web content boundaries for yourself and creating web content for the audiences you care about, get an assist from shifting your standpoint and focus between the networks you’ll use (external) and the web content you’ll create for your business (internal).
* We’ve also included interaction goals / ideas for each network (check out the yellow Post-its) which is another way to keep your audience in mind.
External focus: Start with web properties as the main attraction. Write down each property on your paper or whiteboard. By starting with a web property, you can keep the norms of that property and your audience in mind as you consider subjects and topics that you plan to address there.
Use the Post-its you created in Phase 2. To recap, use different Post-it colors to represent different subject categories (subject categories define web content that’s within your boundaries). Add more Post-its of the appropriate color as you identify specific topics and think about how to approach those topics on a given web property.
Next, physically group your topics according to social network / web property—all the while keeping your audience in mind. Remember that this process should also help you identify differences in the web content that you’ll create and share across different properties.
Internal focus: Start with the subjects and topics that you care about instead. Pay special attention to what your audience needs to know about a topic, the benefits for them, and how your web content sets your business up as a valued resource. You can still use the color-coded topic Post-its that you already created, but this time you’ll consider the topics more in terms of your message and the brand story you need to tell—keep the networks themselves on the periphery.
An initial focus on web content that fits within your boundaries and that you’ll create for your own business purposes makes better sense for some people. A detailed focus on web content for your business purpose may also make it easier to decide how to present each topic on a specific web property.
These two methods work best together, so there is no reason to stick to just one. Shifting your focus / perspective / standpoint is a tried and true way to explore all sorts of things in the social sciences and we highly recommend experimenting to discover what works best for you.
A Web Content Mind Map Can Support Your Boundaries Too
You may prefer the structure of a mind map that starts with the big questions like:
- Who am I talking to?
- What’s the purpose?
- What am I talking about?
Starting your mind map with big questions allows you to integrate web properties, audiences, subjects, and topics in a different ways. Use your mind map to help you think things through at every step of your web content process—from boundaries to strategy to content creation.
A mind map also has the added benefit of setting you up for success by laying a foundation for your web content strategy as a whole. Setting your own boundaries is the first step in getting comfortable with participating on the Social Web. Next you have to actually DO something and that’s where your web content strategy really gets going.
Draw Your Own Web Content Boundary Map
If you’d like to exercise your creativity and keep your focus on the big picture, draw an actual map to remind you of your boundaries as you use social media and social networks. Once you’ve created your map, I suggest hanging it up in your office as a reminder of what’s important. A free-form boundary map can encompass what you don’t plan to talk about as well. I like to think of those subjects as floating in the Sea of Despair—if you go there, little good will come from swimming in those waters. Stay away from topics that won’t help you reach your goals and stick to your boundaries!
Play with the map / terrain metaphor in any way that you like—I’ve only illustrated one example here, but the idea is to make it your own.
In my next post I’ll explore ways to transition from mapping your boundaries to developing a web content strategy that will work for your small business.
Illustrations by Tracey Holinka.