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Content people care about: Find your orphaned baby bear

by Meghan Casey on July 9th, 2010

The Bear Center in Ely, Minn., has posted daily updates about Hope, an orphaned black bear, every day since she was abandoned by her mother Lily in May. Their audience has come to expect these updates, and the Bear Center delivers. Consistently.

I doubt the Bear Center has a name for what they are doing. But, what they actually have is … you guessed it, a content strategy. It’s simple: Give Hope fans what they want, then ask them to give money to help bears.

It’s working. Donations have increased exponentially. Even better, loyal readers are out there rustling up fundraising opportunities for the Bear Center. On their own. Without being asked. I’ve never seen such a captive and engaged online audience.

Why their content strategy works
For starters, they’ve got the cute, cuddly bear thing going for them. But there’s more to it than that. The Bear Center:

♦ Stands for something people can get excited about- Their mission is to protect bears in the wild through research and education.

♦ Takes a stand- They aren’t afraid to justify their decision to intervene in Hope’s life. Rather, they welcome conversation on the topic.

♦ Has a clear call to action- “Donate to the Bear Center” comes through loud and clear.

♦ Makes content a priority- Their researchers write daily updates. Even on weekends. After spending all day in the field studying bears.

♦ Inspires people to join a community- More than a million people “like” their Facebook page and hundreds visit it daily to talk to each other.

♦ Re-uses content- The same updates are posted to their website and their Facebook page, helping to increase their reach.

How content strategy can work for you
So what if you don’t have a cuddly orphaned bear to attract and retain an audience? That’s okay. You have stuff to say. And there are people who want to hear it.

Now for that content strategy thingamajig. Here are four things you can do now, on a limited budget, without an army of staff to find your very own orphaned baby bear:

♦ Start small- Pick one piece of your website. The section that gets the most visitors. Your blog. The home page. Whatever. Then, do the following three things:

♦ Identify your point of view- Content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi said at Web Content 2010, “It’s not what you sell. It’s what you stand for.” That one remark was tweeted about a bajillionty times. Cuz it’s true. Figure out what you stand for, make sure it’s different from what everyone else stands for, and then tell people who care.

♦ Define your core purpose- Before you go creating content, spend some time outlining the purpose of the content to make sure everything you publish is on-target. One way to do this is to answer a few questions, such as:

  •  Who is the content for?
  •  Does your audience care about your message?
  •  Does it make sense for you to talk about it?
  •  What are you trying to accomplish?
  •  What do you want people to do after they read or experience it?

♦ Be bossy- Okay, you’ve got your point of view and you’ve got your purpose. Now you need the content. Set a publishing schedule—something you can realistically adhere to—and assign roles and responsibilities for creators, reviewers, editors, and publishers.

Now, go forth and create content people care about.

  • http://twitter.com/JillNagle Jill Nagle

    A question for you–bullet points four and six look like a content strategy to me, while the rest look like marketing strategy. Can you say more about this overlap?

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/BK2EPMGCZRJUKBML6IO54RFU5I puja

    Nice article!! great work..
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  • Meghan Casey

    Hi Jill. There definitely is overlap between content strategy and marketing strategy. What content strategy helps to do is translate that marketing strategy, or desired call to action, or mission, into something that gets results online.

    We often find that our clients aren't really sure what they are trying to achieve with their website. Or, they are trying to do too much for too broad an audience. Even when they have a well-articulated marketing strategy.

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