I’m definitely going to lose out on some potential clients by posting this, but it’s too important not to share with the world.
The reason people hire me is to put their social media on autopilot. I’m a videographer, yes, but if I were to offer that service on its own, it would mean MORE work for my clients, not less. The reason they hire me is because it takes social media off their plate entirely so they can focus on the business itself.
The trick I’m about to teach you cost me more to acquire than my camera and my most expensive lens combined, and has made me more money and saved me more time than any piece of camera gear I’ve ever owned.
It’s called the content matrix, and it allows you to plan a month’s worth of content in under an hour. Every step that comes after, from writing the content to shooting it to posting it, becomes easier. It all starts with this laughably simple tool.
Here’s the process that I run through with each client I set this up with, including myself.
1. Come up with four topics to talk about
This is the hard part. The reason so many social accounts, especially those belonging to businesses, have low engagement is because: they’re talking, but they really have nothing to say. They’re just going through the motions. Posting a special on a holiday, posting every time a new position becomes available, giving an “interesting” factoid about their trade, or whatever.
That’s not to say that these posts have no place on social media—they do. But by themselves, they have no voice and give your audience no reason to engage.
Instead, find something to REALLY talk about. Talk with your employees, leaders and even your customers if possible. Come up with four topics that you are both qualified and inclined to talk about. Here are some examples:
- Heavy machinery. Do you or someone on your team know every detail about every year, make and model of excavator? Can you explain the different purposes of a pneumatic roller vs a static roller to someone who doesn’t know what they are? That’s something interesting you can talk about.
- The science of your trade. Do you know exactly what the slope of a PVC drainage pipe should be, and why? Do you know how to perform a concrete slump test and what adjustments need to be made to get the perfect consistency? Can you explain the difference between voltage and amperage to a lay person? That’s something REALLY interesting you can talk about.
- The skills of your trade. Do you know what tools work best to get near a mirror-finish on a concrete slab? Can you create woodworking joints that boggle the mind? Do you know the best way to move the spray gun to get an even layer of spray foam insulation? Can you explain the different parts of framing a wall with a window in it, and show your audience how to cut and nail one together? If so, you’ve got an endless stream of content ideas.
- YOUR PEOPLE! Do you have a team of people with diverse backgrounds, unique personalities and interesting perspectives? Hint: if you have a team of people to begin with, the answer to this question is YES, and you should be showing them off.
2. Choose 8 subtopics for each one
This part is way easier than you think. I generally use the same 8 subtopics for each topic, and they are as follows:
- How To: Write a piece of content that teaches the reader/viewer how to do something related to your topic. E.g., how to learn to identify different pieces of machinery. How to perform a concrete slump test. How to frame a window. How to become a heavy equipment operator.
- Tool: A piece of content that showcases a tool (or a person) related to your topic. E.g., Equipment Spotlight: the pneumatic roller. Or, Employee Spotlight: Jim the Framer.
- Story: An informative, educational, funny or otherwise entertaining story related to your topic.
- Q&A: Answering common questions you get about your topic from customers, other trades, your audience, or just people on the street.
- Case Study: Showing an example, often a before/after, of you or your company performing a job related to your topic. Depending on the topic, you might want to highlight the science behind what you did, the hard skills behind what you did, the tools and equipment you used, or the people who helped you do it.
- Mistakes: Focuses on mistakes related to your topic—whether mistakes you’ve made yourself or simply mistakes commonly made.
- Rant: This can be anything you want, but generally it’s something that frustrates you about your topic and why you find it irritating. Take care not to be too negative, but people will often enjoy hearing your thoughts as an expert.
- Challenges: Share a challenge or a task that you commonly face in the realm of your topic. Explain what you do to overcome it. This can be as broad as how you’re overcoming the labor crisis, or as specific as how to clear a double feed from a nail gun.
3. Build your matrix and fill it in
Open up a blank spreadsheet. Take your four topics and put them in four columns. Take your eight subtopics and put them in eight rows. You’ll end up with 32 blank cells, which you then fill in with your content ideas.
The key to filling in your content matrix is staying in the room and focusing on the task until it’s filled in. It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be filled in. When you get the job done, leave it alone, and come back to it after a few hours or even a few days. You’ll probably find that you know exactly which ideas suck and how to fix them, or at least you’ll have ideas for something to replace them with.
4. Convert the matrix into a calendar
Once your matrix is filled in, turn it into a calendar. You can use whatever tool you like for this, from a desktop blotter with a calendar to an app on your phone. I use Notion personally, as it lets me schedule the content as a calendar and write it all in one location.
Shuffle up your content ideas and schedule them out. You can go sequentially if you wish, but I like to choose the order specifically so it feels more organic. If there are topics that make sense to schedule consecutively, schedule them consecutively.
And boom. Depending on how often you post, you have a month or more of content ideas ready to write. If you post once a day, you’re good for just over a month. If you post once a week, you’re good for over half a year. Now all that’s left is writing the content.
Next week, I’ll show you the system I use write content for these matrices (yes, that’s the plural of matrix—I don’t like it either). I’ll also include how I break long-form content down into a series of short-form nuggets.
For now, get out there and prepare your content matrix so you’re ready to roll next time.