Content Planning is Like Learning to Surf. Here are 3 Ways to Ride Your First Wave.

Having recently moved to Cornwall, up the road from a surf school, I’m beginning to appreciate how much preparation goes into surfing. From the wetsuit to the weather forecast, surfing requires a lot of prepping and planning – much like content creation.

Between familiarising yourself with the wave conditions and keeping the momentum going once you catch your first wave, there are many similarities to how cultural organisations produce a piece of content.

In this post, we share three connections between surfing and content creation to help your museum, gallery or heritage website better engage and build relationships with your online visitors.

Starting with audience research, continuing with keyword planning and finishing off with a strong call to action, here are three ways to ride your first digital content wave like a pro.

1. Who are you creating content for?

Like a surfer prepping for the water, it’s important for content creators to do their “homework” before producing a piece of content. Instead of putting on a wetsuit and picking out a suitable board, however, this essential first step includes getting to know your audience.

To better understand your ideal online visitors and create something that they will really enjoy, make sure you have a clear picture of their background, traits, behaviours and desires:

  • Who are they – students, parents, art lovers, culture seekers?
  • What are their values, interests and emotional drivers – adventure, sustainability, art history?
  • Where do they hang out online – Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, email?

The goal of this step is to more clearly understand who you are writing a blog for, sending a newsletter to, sharing a social post with, etc., so that you can better speak their language, appeal to their interests and engage with them online.

Remember, trying to appeal to everyone is appealing to no one; focus on who you want to serve and invite them on your journey. Because once you home in on your core audience, you will find it easier to empathise and connect with them through stories, meaningful content and unique cultural experiences.

2. What keywords are they searching for?

The wetsuit is on, board waxed and surf spot set. Now, it’s time to test out those paddle and pop-up motions on the sand so you can be even more ready for those first waves.

Evaluating the surf forecast and learning which waves best suit your level of experience will also help you adapt and use the conditions to your advantage – not unlike using keyword research to know what people are searching for and the type of content that will engage them as a result.

While it’s easy to cast a wide net while carrying out keyword research, following these steps will keep you on track and moving closer to creating a piece of content that your community is interested in:

  1. Type a keyword or phrase into Google that you think is relevant to your audience and area of expertise.
  2. Scroll down to the ‘People also ask’ on the search results page to see what other information people are looking for.
  3. Then scroll to the bottom of the page to ‘Related searches’ for additional keywords and topic ideas that are connected to your search term.

Related google searches for art therapy
Here’s an example of related search terms for ‘art therapy’ on Google.

After completing this brief detective work, you should have a clearer and deeper understanding of your community’s search patterns and the kind of information and content they are actively looking up. This is useful insight that will help guide your content strategy and create a wave of interest and engagement.

3. What do you want your audience to do next?

You’ve had your first awesome surf session and can’t wait to get back out there – so what next? Many coaches recommend surfing at least once every two weeks in order to keep improving and becoming more comfortable in the water.

Just like signing up for another surf lesson, it’s important to build a next step into each piece of content so that your visitor knows exactly how to continue their journey with you.

Also known as the call to action (CTA), your article, video, social media post, etc., should always give your audience a way to stay connected and engaged with your museum, gallery or heritage organisation. In other words, the CTA is the reason why you created the content piece to begin with.

It might encourage your visitor to:

  • Purchase a ticket to your exhibition
  • Download an activity guide for their child or student
  • Make a donation
  • Sign up for your newsletter
  • Follow you on social media

Shakespeare Theatre Company
Easy-to-spot CTAs on the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s website.

No matter how you would like to nurture and build upon your relationship with your online community, be sure to give visitors a clear way to be a part of your story and unique cultural experience.

While it might sound repetitive and obvious how visitors should interact with your content, CTAs are key to driving engagement. In fact, HubSpot reports that anchor text CTAs increase conversion rates by 121%.

A shortcut to riding your first wave of success

To help you dive right in and begin telling your online story in meaningful and compelling ways, we have created a completely customisable Content Map Template.

As you will see, it organises your content strategy into three main sections – Brand Story, Customer Story and Content Plan – and includes every step mentioned above.

Ready to ride your first wave of success? Click here to create the perfect conditions for some seriously engaging content.

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