Content strategy is difficult stuff. I’m not talking about content marketing strategy, mind you. We’re talking about, as Kristina Halvorson has said and written numerous times, “planning for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.”
Yeah … That.
Doesn’t sound fun, does it? For most people, it’s anything but.
Real, true content strategy requires time, effort, in-depth thought, buy-in, teamwork, honesty, attention to detail and more effort. I’m convinced this felt difficulty is the reason we see so little written about content strategy, other than by content strategists.
I’m equally convinced its painful nature is the blame for why so few businesses sincerely indulge content strategy.
While the lights might be dim on the topic, we all witness the lack of attention paid to the discipline daily:
- Crappy, poorly designed website
- Disorganized, often useless content
- Irrelevant, off-target information
- Content aimed at the robots (SEO) instead of people
As I said, content strategy is hard.
Jonathon Colman, content strategist for Facebook, was in Dallas recently as part of the Dallas Content Strategy Monthly Meetup and he outlined five areas of consideration for the discipline: (1) voice and tone; (2) inventory and audit; (3) consistency; (4) metadata; and (5) content modeling.
Not words you hear every day, right?
But that makes them no less important. Even if you’ve never heard of these terms and plan to never make sense of what they are, they do have meaning for you and your business.
Content Strategy Is Not An Impossible Concept
Every time I look at a website that lacks any discernible elements of content strategy, I think of a quote from Earl Graves Sr., the founder of Black Enterprise Magazine who worked for the late Robert F. Kennedy in the 1960s.
In chastising Graves for not being able to reach his brother, then-president John F. Kennedy, in a timely fashion, the elder Kennedy made Graves aware of his expectations.
“I learned that day,” said Graves, “that the impossible takes time, but the difficult, he expects right away.”
I’ve come to believe the same approach must be taken with content strategy.
We have to get out of neutral gear, thinking of content only from the standpoint of content marketing. “Content” isn’t just some word added conveniently to our sentences.
Content is also more than just words and graphics.
“Content is not a feature; it’s an experience,” says Colman, echoing sentiments shared by Kristina Halvorson et al.
I totally agree.
You Are On The Hook For Audience And Content
I understand that for many small and midsize companies, asking you to concern yourself with metadata and content modeling is an exercise in futility.
However, you cannot excuse away two key elements for a business of any size: audience and content. It’s absolutely necessary to know who comprises your core audience, and you must have a clear handle of whether or not your site is able to sate their appetite for relevant, meaningful content.
Consider the following as you develop a more strategic mindset with regard to audience and content:
Audience: Use in-person interviews, in addition to your site’s analytics, to understand your core audience and …
- The questions they have with regard to your industry
- What they are looking for in the way of information from your website
- Problems your business can solve for them
- Where they are currently going for information germane to your business, industry
- Ways your business can meet their needs so well they no longer need to seek out the competition
Content: Be brutal in your assessment of the content your site will deliver by determining …
- Who will produce the content
- What content on your site has value and what should be killed
- The process by which content will be produced, packaged and delivered
- The types of content likely to be most easily consumed by your audience
“When you understand who you are speaking to, how they like to be addressed, and what they are coming to the site to do, you can effectively evaluate how well site content meets their needs and speaks their language.” – Content Insight, The Qualitative Content Audit
My hope is that companies come to recognize the value of real content strategy. The discipline brings focus, clarity and insight to the entire process of content delivery and serves to make for an experience that’s wholly worthwhile, no matter your business’s objectives.
Do you see the value of content strategy for your business?