Anyone can generate content. It’s out there, as far as the eye can see. Be it ads, copy, videos, pictures, metadata or stories, the online world is filled to the brim with content. But how can you tell which one is good and which is useless? Moreover, what is the purpose of all that content? The answer to both these questions is the content strategy. It’s the only way you can ensure the right message is delivered across all platforms, that it reaches the targeted audience, and promotes a brand in the right way. Are you new to content strategy? There is no need to worry, because here is your unrivaled guide to the domain.
What Is Content Strategy?
Let’s say content is king of the castle. Building on this idea content strategy is the process that allows the king to ascend to his throne. Even though it emerged as a fully-fledged concept back in the 90s, it only began to attract attention around the year 2009.
You might ask yourself why that was and why did no one take it into account more before that date. You’d be right to do so, as 2009 is very close to present day. There were a plethora of factors that contributed to content strategy emerging then, almost all of them focusing on need.
- First of all, there was the conference called Confab, dedicated to web content strategies and nothing else, which began around the year 2009.
- It’s the same year that saw the start of multi-channel publishing, shaping as the second factor that led to the appearance of content strategy.
- The iPhone is the third factor. Once it was presented to the mass audiences and they all started buying and using it, the iPhone virtually pushed publishers into creating content that could be viewed on two platforms at the same time – desktop and mobile.
In today’s market, content strategy has transformed into a process on its own. It’s set into place and used to make sure the content will be edited, published, republished, reused, and archived when the time is right. Not only that but content strategy for the web also creates a timeline for when the content should appear, the places it needs to surface at so that all the info conveyed can be used by the audience in a personal way.
You can also use a content strategy template to help you along the way, with your process, as well as with your content optimization.
The Components of Content Strategy
According to the team at Brain Traffic, content strategy has four main components.
#1. Substance – its main components are the types of content, the voice, and the message. Strategists and content specialists define the message, document it, and then plan and create the content itself.
#2. People – the tactician creates a workflow that details all the processes and tools the content team needs to generate, edit, maintain, and store. When these parameters are met, the content in itself will appear to the appropriate people when the time calls for it.
#3. Governance – this part of the content strategy whole is, in fact, the human hierarchy. It involves a team comprised of decision makers as well as the communication structure and the people who actually create the content.
#4. Structure – The strategists are involved in this part as well. They must determine the content’s structure via research. They also work with developers, which help them pick out the best piece of software and technology for every site or app created. This team works to set up the metadata as well as the tagging. The last two items on the list are crucial to personalizing the content and assisting all the semantic searches.
The content strategists often specialize on one single component of the content strategy. However, it’s imperative to have a working knowledge of all four of them and understand how they work together. Content strategy applied literacy is imperative, even if you don’t actually work on all of the components.
Content Strategy Methodologies
There are a few conventional methodologies in content strategy, which we shall detail as follows.
- Omni-Channel Publishing
The idea of omni-channel is relatively easy to understand. If multichannel speaks about delivering a distinct piece of content and taking into account a user’s experience on several channels, then omni-channel refers to taking them all into account. The word ‘omni,’ in fact, stands for ‘all.’
A strategist will be required, from time to time, to consider the omni-channel publishing needs. He or she will then have to work with a large design team to tackle and resolve all the implications.
Tip – however tempting it might be to jump to a template that takes you directly to international social media channels such as Twitter or Facebook, resist it. It’s crucial to choose your goals and tactics in your allotted area and context as well as possible.
It is true that content strategy refers solely to content development per se. However, the strategists or specialists who are able to look at marketing and all that this field has to offer from this perspective, mainly gain an excellent insight into communication.
The best type of marketing will always be based on outstanding communication. If a strategist can understand this idea, as well as the means to achieve it, he or she can then apply the same basic principles to create a fantastic content marketing strategy.
Apart from this, there is a branch of marketing that revolves around publication and editorial planning. These are the same two tools used by content strategists. They are called editorial calendars and are frequently used to create good content. As long as you can master them and use them for your intended purpose, it doesn’t matter from which field you got your info.
We detailed governance above as well, but its use needs to be further detailed. As we already stated, governance is primarily a hierarchy of the people involved in a content strategy campaign. The structure and idea itself come to us from the domains of HR and business. However, it is now a part of the content strategy as well, and a paramount one.
The content strategist, given his or her privileged status, has an overview of the entire process, including generating the content per se, editing, and publishing it. He can also overlook the omni-channel needs if the campaign requires it. Therefore, he or she is the best person to recommend or even create a governance prototype which will maintain the campaign’s quality at very high levels.
- The Architecture of Information
Another type of methodology when it comes to content strategy is informational architecture. One needs to prioritize parts of the content, design sites that are very easy to navigate, and ultimately help the user find the information he or she desires on the website itself.
Seeing as content strategy is based on marketing, branding is an important part of both. Therefore, in content strategy, when a specialist is focused on sending out a unique branded message to the general public, he or she needs to use branding techniques.
Keep in mind that a good label needs to be complicated enough to be able to send out a message, but simple enough for the mass market to understand and, most importantly, remember it and its deliverables. Think of Nike and its vocabulary, for example. Its slogan is Just do it. Its creation value is sophisticated enough to send out a powerful message, yet simple enough to make it and the services Nike offers impossible to forget it.
Brands are usually visual by definition, as seen in logos and a particular choice of colors, and verbal, as per way of speech and language used. When it comes to colors, for example, if correctly used, they can become a branding to themselves. Think about Coca Cola’s red, Orange or ING’s orange, Starbucks’ green, Facebook’s and Skype’s blue or McDonald’s yellow.
Content Strategy Tools
The list of tools a strategist can use to convey valuable content from the client to the audience is very long. However, here are some of the best you can find.
#1. CAT or Content Analysis Tool
If you need to build an audit for a large site, the CAT will seem like the perfect tool. Developed by Content Insight, CAT basically crawls a site and then pulls its pages into an excel spreadsheet for you to use. If you so desire, it can also pull out analytics data, screenshots, and details at page level.
You need to purchase this tool, either for a particular number of pages or via a monthly fee.
#2. Microsoft Excel
It sounds a bit old school, but Excel is, in fact, one of the primary tools of the trade. Strategists often work with hundreds of elements concerning content strategy. Keeping this in mind, what better way to organize, sort, and go through them all than good, old Excel?
You can use it to export information from other CMS tools as well as improving them. Content management and SEO developing are two amazing benefits that come from using Excel.
#3. Google Analytics
As its name suggests, Google Analytics is a solution for enterprise-class analytics. This description means that it will tell you just how effective your website really is, via a plethora of metrics. These can be the frequency of your chosen keywords, bounce rate and so on.
Content strategy is one of the most important things of which you need to think. Without it, you will just be creating generic content, with no core or purpose, that will not rank organically. Ultimately, it won’t get shared, it won’t engage an audience and, therefore, will never reach your marketing goals.