By Carlijn Postma published November 17, 2014

5 Steps to Mind Map Your Content and Increase Its Reach

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You spent hours sweating over a blog post to make it as appealing and complete as possible. You spent weeks of intensive preparation to produce an eye-catching video. You finally have your content in shape and publish the end result. You promote it with a few tweets and updates on Facebook and LinkedIn. And then? Don’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best. Turn to mapping to ensure your content reaches your target audience and makes the biggest impact possible.

Consider this example: Rabobank publishes a Dutch magazine, Dichterbij, for its customers. An editorial team selects the topics, interviews the sources, takes the photos, writes the articles, and edits and designs the magazine. After a few weeks of work, the magazine is published and mailed, and that’s the end of it — but it doesn’t have to be.

What if Rabobank took its content and did more. What if it mapped its content? Consider a single article in Dichterbij — the interview could be captured on video or the unused quotes shared on different platforms. The images could be paired with a quote to post on another platform.

Plotting your content map enables you to think ahead about the possible extras that could result in additional content without spending too much time.

Decipher “content mapping”

Content marketers more frequently use the term “content mapping” to refer to the concept of mapping content creation to the needs of your users or the goals of your organization. In this case, though, I use the term to talk about mapping content to other content, which is done for content curation purposes.

Content mapping for curation purposes is a logical derivative of the phenomenon of mind mapping — a diagram is drawn to visually organize information, frequently around a single concept represented as a circle in the center of the map.

An experienced content mapper can easily chop the topic into separate thoughts or ideas. But less-experienced content mappers can brainstorm, using the map as a physical manifestation — drawing a tree, for example, and jotting down in the branches all the different subjects that come to mind.

Map your content in 5 steps

Follow the mind-mapping process with these steps, and see how to do it with the topic of content mapping in each how-to example.

content tree 11_5_14

1. Select your topic. What subject do you want to gain people’s attention? You don’t need to start from scratch. Have you posted an interesting article on your blog recently? Does your magazine contain an article about which you would like to focus more attention? The subject also could come from a new content vehicle — a publication, a film, etc.

Specify the source of the topic’s content. Where does it link to your messages? Will you link to the main topic’s primary content on a page on your website? What about as a video on YouTube? This content’s home becomes the source file to which you will link in as many posts as you can. But always remember the golden rule: It has to be relevant.

How-to Step 1: My main topic is content mapping. The primary content source is this article posted on ContentMarketingInstitute.com/blog.

2. Divide into five subtopics. Think about how relevant your subtopics are, but bear in mind that these subtopic posts may not be in a ready-to-share format.

How-to Step 2: The topic of content mapping can be split into these five subtopics:

  • Definition of content mapping
  • Content mapping in practice
  • Explanation of content mapping benefits
  • Useful tools for content mapping
  • Don’t forget …

3. Create four perspectives for each subtopic. Think, too, about the way to convey each perspective’s message. Will it work best as an interesting headline or a quote, or should it be an infographic or a photo collage? Or how about a snappy quote on video? In this step, you create 20 linking messages for the primary topic to draw in your audience. You also can use these later to create additional updates or content.

4. Specify the content types and channels. Of course, you won’t be able to create all your perspectives for the same channel. Think about how you want to distribute your messages. Take into account the specific characteristics of the network or medium you choose. For example, don’t place too much text on Facebook. And while your tone of voice on Facebook will often be informal, LinkedIn users expect a more formal language.

How-to Steps 3 and 4:

  • Definition of content mapping
    • Post the title and a link to the complete article on Twitter.
    • Post the title, a few sentences of summary, and a link to the complete article on LinkedIn. (Instagram wouldn’t be a logical choice here because it’s a visually oriented distribution vehicle.)
    • Write a 400-word summary and post to the company’s website.
    • Record a short explanatory film such as, “Content Mapping Explained in 60 Seconds,” and publish video to YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Content mapping in practice
    • Write a clear and simple list of five steps for creating a content map and publish that text on LinkedIn.
    • Create an infographic on five steps for creating a content map and publish it via Facebook and Pinterest.
    • Use a quote from a client (Judith) and her content tree, now tagged as “Judith’s tree.” Include a photo of Judith, a quote, and the logo for her company to share on Facebook and Twitter.
    • Develop an example map — an illustration of the content tree included in the original article — and publish it on Pinterest.
  • Explanation of content mapping benefits
    • Write three reasons for content mapping to be used as a short text update for LinkedIn and include the link to the original article.
    • Create an infographic that compares the reach achieved without using content mapping to the reach achieved with content mapping and post to Facebook.
    • Design a cartoon that illustrates the role of timing and platforms in content mapping (for example, a cartoon on how your Twitter followers likely won’t see your tweet because they aren’t looking all day long). Publish the cartoon on Twitter, Facebook, and maybe Pinterest.
    • Publish a number of case studies showing the value of content mapping on the website.
  • Useful tools for content mapping
    • Write an overview on the top five tools for monitoring when your followers are online. Publish as an update on LinkedIn and a link to the update on Twitter.
    • Create a table mat with 25 pre-printed content trees and include a link to the original article and a link to an online print store so viewers can order copies.
    • Identify the top 5 apps to create visual content. For most updates you will need visual content. Share a list of apps to create films or images very easily.
    • Share how to secure a blank content-mapping tree. Give users the option to print through an online store or download a PDF.
  • Don’t forget…
    • Develop the do’s and don’ts of content mapping, such as “stay on topic” and “don’t repeat yourself.” Create a graphic representation that can be posted on LinkedIn and Twitter.
    • Draft a text update with four practical tips for dividing your content into chunks.
    • Create a trailer — a short promotional video to promote the article.
    • Make an audio clip where the article is read out loud and publish on your website and via a link on the original content site.

5. Schedule your posts over a longer period. Now that you’re ready to schedule your posts, decide on what period you want to focus attention on your topic and schedule updates accordingly. Vary the times of day at which you post. This way you’ll get the most viewers (unless your aim is a small audience and you’ve decided you want to repeat your message).

No time to waste

Content mapping takes time. The aim is not to create content for the sake of creating content. Your content has to be top quality if you want to achieve your goal. It doesn’t matter how many posts you churn out. If they are not relevant or interesting, every minute spent on them will have been a waste of time. I sometimes get asked whether readers are overwhelmed with all this content. And I’ll admit if you look at all the different types together it can seem that way. That’s why it’s so important to create a content map to manage the process of publishing the posts carefully, both across the various channels and over time.

This article was adapted from its original Dutch publication.

For more great ideas, insights, and examples for advancing your content marketing, read Epic Content Marketing, by Joe Pulizzi.

Cover image by George Hodan, Publicdomainpictures.net, via pixabay

Author: Carlijn Postma

Carlijn Postma is a Dutch author, speaker and content marketing strategist. In 2010 she published her first book about Twitter, a bestseller in The Netherlands. Last June her latest book was launched: Content Marketing in 60 minutes, an inspiring and practical book. Carlijn is also founder of The Post, an agency for content marketing, and owner of Bind Academy.

Other posts by Carlijn Postma

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  • Gold Mind Digital

    This article was spot on! Content marketing play such an important role in a marketing mix. Since it’s fairly new a lot of it seems to be done on a trial and error basis.Story telling should help demystify content marketing at its core.

    • CarlijnPostma

      Thank you! And indeed you can also use this tree for storytelling. Just put the whole story at the bottom and start cutting it into different small stories. All of the small stories can help traffic towards the one at the bottom of your tree.

  • http://www.words2wow.com/blog Chris Conner

    Mapping your content to repurpose it is essential for getting the most out of your efforts and expanding your reach. It can be made even easier by planning how you will repurpose an asset BEFORE you create it. You are planning your content in advance anyway, right?

    Think about content marketing as answering every question a potential customer might have at each stage of their buyer’s journey. Keep in mind that some of these aren’t asked explicitly, but they exist nevertheless. “How can I do my job better?” or “What changes are coming to my industry?” are examples. This is a way of ‘chunking” content before you make it.

    Each question can be answered in many different asset formats. Exploring the possible deliverables and then assembling the questions to be answered in each asset gives you a rough outline for subject matter experts to follow to create the content for you.

    • CarlijnPostma

      Hi Chris, that’s also true. Planning before creating is very useful. If you are going to interview someone for an article that will only appear in text, than it can be a good idea to make a short video from that person in which he tells your audience what he’s going to talk about. Or just tape a nice soundbite… or let him introduce himself. That video can be used as a trailer for the real content.

  • http://marketingautomation.company/ Manni

    Hey Carlijn !!!!

    Firstly, Infographic is superb and informative !!!!!

    I really find myself equipped with so many knowledgeable things , by the way you have thrown light over the content mapping.

    Its makes it very effortless for me to get each point in one go. The way you have breakdown a points into sub points is awesome.

    Thanks for Sharing !!!!!!

    • CarlijnPostma

      Great to read such enthusiasm in your comment. Good luck with content mapping. Hope you’ll see the results in the reach of your content.

  • http://petermeadit.com/ Peter Mead

    Love this infographic, will be taking this steps onboard. Thanks Carlijn.

    • CarlijnPostma

      You’re welcome! And have fun content mapping!

  • http://Joan-white.com Joan White

    I love this article! I am a new marketer and I discovered Mind Mapping about 2 months ago and was blown away. I have ADD and a terrible memory. Mind maps allow me to focus and structure. They should be taught in grade school. I hadn’t thought about the ways to use your content over time. Add another piece to the puzzle today, thanks

  • Jaqui Lane

    Carljin, thanks for this a great resource, easy to follow (no excuses now) and looks simple to implement. Thanks.

  • Ann

    It can be made even easier by planning how you will repurpose an asset BEFORE you create it. Cheap Snapback Hats You are planning your content in advance anyway, right?