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  • Do You Really Need a Content Strategy?

Do You Really Need a Content Strategy?

    The answer is Yes.
     
    You have many discussions about content activities, methodologies, and deliverables. But if you don’t have a conceptual framework for those activities, you are not practicing content strategy.
     
    It is impossible to design a great user experience for bad content. If you are passionate about creating better user experiences, you can't help but care about delivering useful, usable, engaging content.
     
    Content strategy is not a single solution or deliverable. It is a process and a mindset. If you approach your content management initiative knowing that it will constantly evolve, and that you are guiding its evolution, then you are practicing content strategy.
     
    Content strategy evaluates business and customer needs and provides strategic direction on how improved content and content processes can help to achieve specific objectives. It’s a continual process of improvement.
     
    Content strategy requires more time and resources upfront, but your content management initiative is much more likely to succeed with a solid strategy supporting it. Content strategy activities are scalable and can be modified to fit any budget. You don’t necessarily need a large, formal content strategy. You just need to take the time to think things through and determine your goals, resourcing, workflow, and success metrics, which can save you from the high cost of ineffective content.
     
    You can’t expect to get where you want to go if you don’t know where that is, what you need to do to get there, or how to even recognize it if you stumble across it.
     
    Content strategy starts with the big picture and then drills down to a granular level that can be implemented and measured. It encompasses everything that impacts content, including workflow and governance.
     
    The content-strategy process is not so much circular as it is spiral, starting at the big vision and then repeating at each stage as you drill down to more details. To make matters worse (or more fun!), content strategies, tactics, processes, and even specific pieces of content are often shared between projects, products and business units.
     
    A good content strategy looks across organizational silos and integrates the different business needs, goals, and tactics. It makes sure that the end product promotes consistent, effective and efficient user experiences and business processes.
     
    Reasons for developing a content strategy:
     
    1. Better Content
     
    Developing a content strategy will enable you to create content that will be more engaging. A content strategy will allow you to clearly identify the elements that will add more value and create more interesting experiences for your users over time.
     
    2. Consistency in Messaging
     
    This is traditionally done within a marketing strategy, but the problem is that content extends beyond the marketing department. Within a content strategy you can outline guidelines,standards, quality control processes, branding, voice tone and messaging, so that anyone creating content of any format has some rules for the road.
     
    3. Optimization
     
    A content strategy will help you optimize your content. When developing content, it is critical to identify user personas, and create individual content paths for each of them (all fitting into one content strategy). Since each has their own questions, concerns and interests, you’ll need to develop content around these specific characteristics. By doing so, you will optimize for search by using the right keywords, and your content will be more relevant to those searching for it. The reason you need to consider this within your entire content strategy is because your content lives in various locations; your website, social networks, press, etc.
     
    4. Limitation of Friction
     
    A content strategy will help you to avoid friction in your content management system. You want to facilitate an engaging environment, so if there are disconnects between your information architecture or formats, you will create discomfort and stress for your users. You want to make sure their experience is easy. This ease will come from clearly defined goals, research, content paths, content processes, and the tactics that have been identified by the content strategy. This will also ensure that everyone responsible for content creation is on the same page, even if they are not on the same team or in the same department.
     
    5. Improve efficiency
     
    There are many ways to re-use content, like posting a blog post into a web site or a series of documents, or maybe an ebook. The idea is that you repurpose content to be consumed in various way, so you can always reach who you want while staying relevant and adding value. A content strategy outlines the thematic content and how it can be used throughout the year so you are not constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. It will help you organize an inventory and plan for releasing various kinds of content throughout the year, as well as streamline the internal processes needed to achieve the content goals.
     
    Things to think about when developing your strategy:
     
    There are many elements you will need to consider. You will need to know what content you have, what content you will need, who your users are, how they like to consume information, and who will be responsible for what. All of these things will be important in developing a realistic strategy for your content.
     
    Here is a brief list of questions to ask: 
    • What content do we have? 
    • Who are the content sources? 
    • What does the current content creation process look like? 
    • What are the content channels? External web: website, social media, partner sites, email, webinars. Internal: intranets, wikis, training sessions, seminars. Traditional: PR, print, events, outdoor, direct mail. The reasoning behind a content strategy is to make informed recommendations about the creation, delivery and governance of content. 
     Your content strategy should outline the following: 
    • current content and what you will need;
    • how content should be structured in various formats Long-term plan–starting point and ending point What will this mean in terms of business objectives?
    With the current proliferation of social media, and web based tools, including your web site, it is very important to have a content strategy. It is important that everyone is on the same page. This is difficult for most companies, but the development of a strategy and plan will only help things run smoothly, and actually have the business impact you are looking to achieve.
    Categories: Content Strategy
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