How did we keep our knowledge base organized before the Internet? (I’m really asking… Let me know in the comments.) I basically just use Twitter as a virtual reminder list of all the great articles, tips and ideas out there that I want to read. Pinterest, too – although I find myself constantly getting distracted by images of bubbling pasta casseroles and incredibly detailed backyard BBQ party décor. If you seem to have this same problem, then I offer you this: 10 awesome (and by awesome I mean useful, detailed and free) resources that I refer to on a regular basis to keep updated on the ever-expanding field of content strategy. These are top-level links, meaning that each contains a treasure trove of information that is more specific to your unique needs, but if you were ever quizzed, like “You’re into content strategy? What do you like?” – you can just spout this off and come across very well, indeed. It’s always good to be prepared.
Did “top 10 lists” retire with David Letterman? I’m not so sure. At any rate, feel free to consider this as an homage to the legacy that was the Top 10 List, or as an effort to keep it alive… now that its late night enthusiast is no longer giving it an update on a daily basis.
If you’re new to content marketing, I would recommend that you click through the links at least once, get a feel for which one seems to speak most to you and your content interests – and start with the one you like best.
CMI is, more or less, the Godfather of all things content (online, at least). Bookmark it, if you haven’t already – an easy way to stay up-to-date is to subscribe to their e-newsletter. It is the first organization I came across when I first got started in content marketing about four years ago, and it has been an essential part of my learning process every since. They have a great list of “How-To” guides in their righthand sidebar that covers the basic seven areas of consideration when engaging in content marketing: Plan fundamentals, your audience, your brand story, distribution channels, your creation process, the conversation around your content and your ROI (return on investment) measurements.
9. NewsCred (specifically, The Academy)
NewsCred as a company makes its money as content marketing software. However, they really take their initiative to heart, and offer two great resources, free of charge – their blog (which I often catch up with on Twitter), and The Academy, a platform filled with case studies, white papers, guides, and webinars that could make for a very nice little educational experience for anyone interested in digital marketing. Their tagline: “Who needs an MBA when you have NewsCred’s Academy” (I’m hoping they’re right on that one.)
8. Coursera (specifically, Content Strategy for Professionals, Units 1 & 2)
If you want to really get down and dirty, and spend some intensive time learning in a class-style setting, then I can’t recommend these courses enough. The units are easy to navigate, and you can spend a quick 30 minutes on it a day over six weeks. If you work within an organization, you will end up with a certificate upon completion of the course (including some quizzes and a final assignment) that should count as professional development work. I got my certificates, and I didn’t hesitate to put them on my résumé.
Content strategy & marketing covers a lot. But, sometimes, all you want to know is how to work that darn Facebook. They can help you with that, and a lot more – plus they’ll give you a 50-age report on the entire social media industry for free. If you’re a commuter, they have a great podcast that you can listen to on the go.
6. Marie Forleo
Not everything needs to be content theory all the time. I find that my best inspiration comes from people and brands that I admire. Marie Forleo is one of those – she runs her famous B-school business program as well as some other offerings – all in the name of “creating a business and life that you love.” Her weekly video series tackling business and life issues sent to her by followers is inspiring – especially in its delivery. Pay close attention to her strategy for creating the content, engaging followers and making her business message seem fun and smart at the same time. I find it easiest to keep up with them via her weekly e-newsletter.
Like NewsCred, Hubspot is a SaaS offering – an inbound marketing and sales platform, but they have a great content strategy, too. They cover marketing, sales and media topics in separate sections, which can give you some support across the board since, as we all know, content, marketing, sales and account management all go hand-in-hand. (We all know that, right?). I’ve taken their free Inbound Marketing Certification program as well – it’s definitely a worthwhile industry badge to have.
I wish I would have thought up the idea for GrowthHackers. It’s a beast, in a good way. They organize their posts by trending news and topic categories, so you can search specifically for what interests you, or you can just see what’s new in the industry. They are a community platform that aggregates content from all kinds of bloggers, so you can cover a lot of ground through one portal. I follow them primarily through Twitter.
If you want to know how marketing is being done in Canada, then this is your go-to. When regulations such as last year’s CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) are put into play, they can offer up some great, authoritative advice. They also cover what Canada’s top brands and marketing agencies are doing, so it can be a great source of inspiration or ideas. Courses and seminars are offering through CMA too, if you’re looking for more structured learning.
2. Social from the source…
It’s not a bad idea to just go straight to the source sometimes. When companies are user platforms, like social media, they have an interest in helping said users get the most out of their efforts. If you’re ever wondering about a specific function on Pinterest, or you’re wondering how best to format your targeted Facebook ads, you might save time by just consulting the oracle, as it were. Here are three you might want to bookmark:
Twitter for Business blog
1. CopyBlogger (specifically, their Ebooks)
This is not necessarily my #1, nor is it at the bottom of my list, even thought it’s occupying those two spaces here. In fact, I’m newer to CopyBlogger than to the other resources in this list. However, I’ve found their e-newsletters persistent – in a good way. They remind me to keep exploring and expanding my knowledge and practice of writing, and writing copy, in particular. Their Ebooks cover a nice range of specific copywriting needs for digital content marketing, like SEO writing, keyword research and landing pages. I’ll be using these as reference guides, for sure.
So there you have it. Save one, save them all, or just ask me which one you should read for your particular content strategy interest!