We have reached the last post in the Go-To Series and this one is by far the most important when it comes to saving time and energy. We have spoken about how your branding needs to be consistent, with your logo, colours, fonts, etc. being used in a predetermined way in order to build brand awareness, brand recognition, and brand loyalty. This effectively means that your content should follow the same rules, and for that, you need to make use of content templates.
Content templates can be seen as content blueprints that you can use when creating your content for your digital channels. Whether you opt to design these yourself or decide to make use of professional graphic design services, there are certain steps that you need to follow to ensure that your templates are set up correctly and that they adequately cover the different types of content that you plan on sharing.
In the last post of this series, we discuss what content templates are, how you benefit from using them, and what you need to consider when setting up your templates. Ready? Let’s begin!
The reason why this should be the last step in setting up your Go-Tos lies with the fact that you need to have a clear image of what your brand entails before you can bring it all together in your content templates. This clear image is created mainly when setting up your brand book and refined in your content calendar, writing guide, and customer engagement SOP. Your content templates should, at minimum, include your logo, your font(s), your writing style, and your brand colours. Here’s a quick mock-up of a standard Instagram or Facebook image to better explain the above statement.
Do you see how this image is made up of several individual elements? Here, let me line them up for you so that you get a better idea of what I mean.
The steps involved in setting up your content templates.
Step 1: Consider your content.
The first step in this process is to determine the different types of content that you will be posting. This ties in with the process that you followed when setting up your content calendar and the reason why we do this is, again, to save you time and energy. There are a few things that you need to take into consideration when determining the different types of content that you will be posting and these are largely dependent on:
the type of industry that you are in
the type of business that you have
the performance of past content
your creative skills
You want to, ideally, work with roughly five or six different types of content that will each require their own template and create a general template for content that does not fit into your existing categories.
For example, if you are a retailer, you can consider:
Did You Know: share a special tip or use for a featured product.
Feedback/Testimonials: sharing customer reviews.
Product Feature: a straight-forward advertising post featuring a product from your catalogue.
Blog: a short piece about an industry-relevant topic.
How To: covering topics such as how to complete a purchase, get in touch, sign up for a newsletter, use the newest addition to your product line, etc.
Step 2: Consider your content format.
When it comes to the format of your content, there are two important questions that you need to think about:
What are my skills and resources?
What works best on the platform that I am using?
Building on the example above, you might feel that it would work best to create how-to videos, but if you don’t know how to record or edit a video, it might be better to consider images and written content. Furthermore, certain platforms are better suited to certain types of content. For example, Twitter limits the characters in your post. So, sharing a lengthy testimonial on the platform might not be the best idea.
But, (and here’s a question that quite a few small business owners have asked me before) what if you make use of several different platforms and you create one piece of content that you want to share across all platforms? While this approach isn’t always advised, it definitely saves a lot of time and energy. If this is something that you do, the answer to this question is simple - work around the limitations of the platform. For example, Twitter might not be a great place to share a lengthy customer testimonial, but you could post the testimonial on your blog or website and direct users to the testimonial by adding a link to your post.
Step 3: Set up your templates.
The different types of content that you have identified in step one now each need their own template. The reason why we do this is to limit the number of changes needed when designing your content. Consider this mock-up of a Did You Know post designed for Instagram. Each time that we share a new Did You Know post, we only need to change the image to something that’s relevant to the copy that accompanies the post.
Another example would be this product feature. Notice how few elements needed to be changed?
How do I set up my templates?
There are plenty of free design platforms and software available online that makes setting up your image templates a breeze. What’s more, many of these also offer easy video editing options that even the most novice of computer users will find easy to use. The examples in this post were created using Adobe Illustrator, but my favourite free software remains Canva (www.canva.com). The drag-and-drop aspect of their platform coupled with the free creative elements and templates makes it my go-to suggestion for small business owners.
You also have the option of making use of professional design services for templates. Whether you make use of a project-based freelance website like www.fiverr.com or decide to pay someone per hour for their graphic design services, make sure that they give you the following:
a PNG version of each of your templates without any background or images.
a PNG version of each of your templates without any text.
the font files for the fonts that they used in your templates.
a PNG version of each of the elements used in each of your templates. (If you are unsure of what this means, see the example above where I lined up each of the individual elements in the design)
By asking your designer to supply you with these items, you will be able to use programs such as Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, and even Paint to create your content because the PNG elements can be dragged and dropped on top of each other to create the image that you want.
Your content templates are exactly what their name implies, templates that you use when setting up your content and should, at minimum, include your logo, your font(s), your writing style, and your brand colours. When setting up your content templates you need to consider the types of content that you will be posting and consider the different formats that you will be using. This information will enable you to design templates that match your brand and make creating your content easier - saving you time and energy in the management of your digital presence.