Content Strategy: Brief Explanation
The term ‘content strategy’ is used to refer to the strategic planning, development, distribution and management of content. It is sometimes used interchangeably with the term ‘content marketing’, but in reality, it is a distinctive concept, concerned with efficiency, tactics and execution. Indeed, the Content Strategy Alliance defines the basic idea behind content strategy as: “getting the right content to the right user at the right time.”
Although the content is usually marketing content, like website articles, blog posts and infographics, it can also include other types of business content as well. Content strategists are not only interested in the creation and publication of content, but also with the key strategic questions surrounding its distribution, such as “what is the purpose of the content?” and “who is going to find this content useful?”
Content Strategy: Detailed Explanation
Content strategy, as a discipline, gained popularity in the late 1990s, as businesses and website owners began to get to grips with the content marketing possibilities provided by the internet. It is typically seen as both a marketing and web development concept and is a recognised aspect of user experience (UX) design. A content strategy should help to provide a vision, define an audience and identify a purpose for the content a business creates.
While it is a relatively new discipline, content strategy as a concept has become increasingly well defined over the early part of the 21st century. Content strategists tend to formulate their strategy by carrying out specific steps to assess current content, identify content gaps, plan for the creation of additional content and devise a strategy for distributing it so that it reaches its intended audience at the right time.
Ultimately, the main purpose of a content strategy is to ensure that high-quality, useful content is created and that its publication provides benefits for both the website or business and the audience that consumes the content. A comprehensive strategy should identify a clear need for the content and also provide a plan for how it will reach its audience. It may also include style guidelines or key messages that should be included.
The content that is created and distributed as part of a content strategy can be varied. While it is usually marketing content, which is intended to persuade, increase awareness, establish expertise, impart wisdom, or help to build deeper, more meaningful relationships between businesses and consumers, the content itself may range from website articles, blogs and social media posts, to photographs, infographics, videos and audio.
For this reason, content strategists will typically have a knowledge of (or familiarity with) a number of different content marketing concepts, methods and approaches, including things like search engine optimisation (SEO), audience research, social media marketing, and content management. They will also typically make use of analytics software, content management systems (CMS) and tools for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Creating a Content Strategy
When it comes to actually devising and drawing up a robust, comprehensive content strategy, marketers or content strategists need to cover a lot of different bases. Generally speaking, content strategies can be divided into a number of different sections and components, which then come together to form the overall strategy. Although there are different ways of dividing it up, the steps below will cover the essential elements:
Vision – The vision of your content strategy should be broad and answer the big questions, like “what are we doing?” and “why are we doing this?”. It will serve as the foundation to build upon, with each piece of content being aligned to it. Your vision should give you purpose and a basic motivation. Are you trying to increase overall brand awareness? Do you want to establish specific people as experts in their field?
Audience – Next, you need to start thinking about the audience you intend to reach with your content strategy. Is there a specific demographic? Who are they influenced by? Is there a particular platform or channel they prefer to use? What sort of websites do they visit? Your audience research should help you to gather some basic ideas of the sort of content they may want to consume and where they might prefer to consume it.
Content Audit – Any successful content strategy requires an analysis or audit of current content. Here, you need to create an inventory of all content, whether it is published on your own website, social media platforms or on third-party websites and look at the key performance indicators to see which content has been successful. Content should also be compared to the audience personas you identified in the previous step.
Objectives – It is also important to establish clear objectives. Your objectives will differ to your vision, in that they should be more specific and measurable, rather than being broad and intangible. For instance, it could be that you want to generate leads, increase conversions on your website, drive more traffic to your website in general, improve search rankings on Google, or increase outreach on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.
Planning – Once you know what you are setting out to achieve, you can start to plan how your content will be released in order to meet objectives and reach your intended audience. During this step, you may wish to identify influencers who can help you to reach your target audience, clarify what your core brand messages are and make sure that everybody involved in the content strategy knows their role.
Production and Distribution – Next, you need to decide how you are going to create your content and put it out there. Are you going to create the content in-house, or outsource basic ideas to professional writers? Will you publish it yourself, or try to get it published on influential websites or blogs? Are you going to send some content out via email? Will you post it on social media? You should also think about optimising it for Google.
Management – Finally, the management aspect of a content strategy is essentially a maintenance task. This is where you track the performance of content using analytics software, look at how many people it has reached, monitor social media shares and interact with those who have left comments, or responded to it in other ways. You can then ascertain which types of content bring you the most success and use this to inform future production.
As a concept, content strategy is still relatively new, although it has become fairly well defined. Essentially, it is about the tactics behind content production and content marketing, helping to ensure that valuable, useful content gets into the right hands and produces the right results. It also helps to clarify direction and provide answers to the all-important ‘W’ questions, like “what?” “why?”, “who?”, “when?” and “where?”
Essentially, the job of a content strategist is to oversee the planning, creation, publication and management of business content. This means that content strategists must understand various aspects of content marketing, web development and UX, while also aligning their strategy to broader business goals or targets.