“Content is king,” is an old adage that remains true in the Internet age, an age which has more or less become defined by the proliferation of content. But not all content is created equal. This is where content strategy comes into play.
Content strategy helps provide a purpose to an organization’s website, blog posts, online videos, and social media updates.
Content strategist Kristina Halvorson in Content Strategy for the Web, writes:
“Creating useful, usable content requires user research, strategic planning, meaningful metadata, web writing skills, and editorial oversight. It requires people. With experience. And insights. And judgement. It requires planning. And input. And time. And money.”
In other words, content strategy is the product of much hard work, various hard and soft skills, as well as resources and support from across the organization.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the content strategy best practices that well-meaning content creators could easily overlook.
1. Take an assessment of what’s already there
Figure out what content you have and what can be useful. This means looking at all the pages of your website, as well as, for instance, brochures and other print materials, and making objective observations.
On a basic level, it’s important to know what content you have, how it is organized (such as the menu structure), and who created it. Going deeper, you can look at the quality and effectiveness of the content. For each page, write a few sentences about the page, or even giving it a star ranking based on how accurate, useful and appealing it is to customers.
Knowing what you have to work with will help you determine what content can be updated, what can be removed, and what content holes must be filled.
2. Spend time planning and measuring
Content Strategy involves taking a long, hard look at an organization’s goals, and come up with a plan to deliver on these. Creating content that helps build trust, inspire action, and build loyalty takes great planning.
In the planning stages, it’s important to develop a messaging strategy, which will help all content be built around some common goals. It’s important to look back to the organization’s mission statement and try to develop content that is inline with these goals. It’s also important to brainstorm and research what content would be appealing and useful to site visitors.
During this planning stage, it’s helpful to think about your site and content goals, and create measurable metrics around them. It’s even better if you can tie these goals to your greater business objectives.
For instance, your goal could be to educate site visitors of the differences of your product from imitators. For content created around the idea that your product is unique, the criteria for success could be the time spent on these pages, how many times it’s been shared on social networks, or how often reading this material leads to a sale.
3. Less can be more
Creating less content makes it easier to update and manage over its lifecycle. And having less content can help you focus on making it valuable to site visitors and align with your brand messaging.
Generally speaking, web content should support a key business objective, and/or support a user or customer completing a task. Content that doesn’t meet these criteria could, in fact, harm your brand by providing a less-than-ideal user experience.
Creating too much content has the possibility of overwhelming visitors, and bogging down their browsing experience with content that doesn’t directly address their problem or need. Worse yet, this content will litter search results, making it harder for visitors to find the content they want.
4. Assign roles
As Halvorson says in her book, text can be messy, and it’s important to have the right people at each stage of the creation process in order to have content finally make it online.
These roles include:
- requesters, who ask for new content to be created, updated or taken down;
- providers, who are the experts with access to the knowledge required to develop the web content;
- creators, who are the ones who make the text, audio, visual, and video content;
- reviewers and approvers, who have a say in what content is created, how it is approached, and if the final product is fit to be published; and
- publishers, who handle the technical publishing of the content on channels such as a company website, blog, or YouTube account.
Depending on the organization, one person could be taking on multiple roles within this framework.
Reviewers and approvers will help determine which content requests should be pursued. Creators will go to providers for the information they need to develop content. And publishers will help put all the content on the right channels in the right ways.
Understanding these roles makes the content workflow more efficient and effective.
5. Think about the content lifecycle
Once you begin publishing pages, blog posts and videos, your job isn’t over yet.
Great content strategy means constantly re-evaluating the content posted to your site.
It’s important to take care of content after it goes online. This requires that people take the time to update and archive content, which can be difficult when other projects get in the way.
It’s also important to periodically update and revise content over its lifecycle, and ensure it continues meeting the organization’s standards and fits within the brand’s overall messaging.
It’s been repeatedly said, we’re all publishers now. Applying strategy to the content we publish is important not only to make the content focused and aligned with organizational goals, but also to make content development more efficient and organized.
Strategy goes a long way when it comes to delivering consistent and up-to-date information and messaging across your content.
Have any content strategy tips to share? Any questions? Please let us know in the comments!
Pursuing your own content strategy? Kobayashi Online develops content for a number of clients and can help provide content that’s aligned with your business goals.