Brands have really found their feet in content this year. Competition is rife, and a haphazard approach to churning out low-quality content is virtually a waste of time. Here are some tips to help improve your content strategy for 2013.

Develop your mission statement

It’s a good idea to start with a mission statement. What do you want your content to achieve? What story do you want to tell? Who do you want to connect with? And, perhaps most importantly, what do you stand for?

Focus on value-adding and utility

Consumers are not interested in interruptive marketing. They want ease, interactivity, sociability and value. Stop adding white noise and start solving problems. Look to Skullcandy’s surf, skate and snow app as an example, but remember a well-written, informative blog can be just as useful as a fancy app.

Don’t make it all about you

During Hurricane Sandy, American Apparel tactlessly sent out an email offering customers in the nine affected states a discount code (distastefully ‘SANDYSALE’) in case they were “bored during the storm”. Zero thought went into their approach or their copy, and the brand made more enemies than it did sales.

Airbnb, on the other hand, partnered with NYC.gov to enable users to offer free housing to those affected by Sandy. They provided a service and consequently won the hearts of people all over the world, likely receiving enough earned media to cover their losses.

The lesson? Forget the hard sell and focus on making your business a valuable part of consumers’ lives.

Crunch numbers

‘Big data’ is the buzz term of the moment and, although you might not have access to the sort of number crunching some companies are waxing lyrical about, you can make an effort to analyse the results of the content you published in 2012 and find out who you’re speaking to. After all, it’s difficult to start a relationship, or even a meaningful conversation, with someone you know nothing about.

Focus on social quality, not quantity

Create quality, useful content and people will be willing to give more of themselves to your brand. For example, this morning I used Amnesty International New Zealand’s Trial by Timeline because I’d seen so many people talking about it. As a result, they now have a whole bunch of information about me and a post on my Facebook wall that all my connections will see. And I’m okay with it because, well, it was cool.

Allow for flexibility

In your budgets, your strategy and your time allocation, there needs to be an element of flexibility. Not only could the next big thing launch sometime during the year, but being able to respond to news and current events will help you stay relevant.

Think about mobile

As well as ensuring your website and blog are mobile-friendly, start thinking about how your emails would be received on a smartphone. Around 48 per cent of emails opened today are on a mobile device. And if you’re a B2C company, know that 87 per cent of C-level executives check the majority of their emails via mobile.

It’s time to start taking your content seriously, and the best place to start is with a solid strategy for 2013.