Tuesday, 30 August 2011

17 nuggets of content strategy advice

I added my most recent blog post, on how I would sum up my content strategy advice in one sentence, to the LinkedIn content strategy group and was delighted and surprised to see lots of members offering up their own sentence of advice. 

There were lots of interesting thoughts, so I thought I'd collate them all here for your delictation:

  1. "Think of content as a recorded conversation between the reader and creator" Brandon Quan.
  2. "Effective content strategy enables the reader to follow his or her own path through the information in a way that's comfortable, interesting and satisfying while also serving the communication goals of the host site" Scott Corrigan.
  3. "Good content makes sense to the first-time user" Tessa Copland.
  4. "Content marketing is having the ability and understanding to provide valuable customer enriching information on a consistent basis knowing this creates a nurturing and brand building foundation between you and your prospects and customers" Jeff Harrison.
  5. "Without governance, you're sunk" or "it's all about the metadata" Rahel Anne Bailie.
  6. "Creating and managing content in a way that doesn't piss anyone off (clients, audiences, stakeholders, creators)" Andrew Nhem
  7. "CONTEXT >>> PAGE >>> TASK >>> CUSTOMER, that's how content should make sense" Eric Beteille.
  8. "Listen, man. The streets are clamoring" Edwin Tam.
  9. "A variation of the Golden Rule: what do I, as a customer, want to read?" Kok Hong Poh.
  10. "Content strategy is about making your content matter... to everyone who uses it and to everyone who is involved in producing it" Pamela Kostur.
  11. "Spending your money and using your resources to produce conent that meets your goal in the most efficient and effective way possible" Scott Abel.
  12. "How about a question? If your content can't be found does it exist?" Seamus Walsh.
  13. "Content basics are who, what, when, and where BUT provide or give access to context, without it content loses meaning and value" Neal Burns.
  14. "Know you audience" Claire O'Rourke.
  15. Said the Content Strategist to the Director at the first meeting: "Tell me how your public feels about your products and how you know that, and there we will see what your content needs are" Jenifer L Johnson.
  16. "Creating and managing content so that those who care can mutually embrace it" Andrew Nhem.
  17. "Develop effective information that can be resused and repurposed across multiple platforms" William Huscher.
Anymore for anymore?  Let me know your suggestions below:

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Can You Sum Up Your Content Strategy Advice In One Sentence?

Yesterday in a meeting I was asked by a prospective client, to sum up my content strategy advice in one sentence. So I said: "Align your content strategy to your overall business strategy."

It's something you'll have heard me say before. It formed a key part of my presentation at Internet World on developing a content strategy. I am pretty passion about it, and here is why...

Why is it important to align your content strategy to your overall business strategy?

  1. Creating content for the sake of creating content is pointless.  Content needs context.  A content strategy developed within the context of your overall business strategy will ensure your content has the context it needs to be relevant and engaging.
  2. If you don't know what success looks like, how will you know whether you have been successful or not?  If as a company you are trying to achieve particular goals, you can use content to get there.  Whether your company wants to be seen as: the tech and gadget experts, thought leaders in the sub-prime space, or the place to come for health advice, you can produce content to introduce or reinforce a vision.
  3. When you create content in an isolated bubble you risk that content being squirrelled away out of sight on your website and you risk the content creators or content strategy team being marginalised.  If you create content that is aligned to your overall business strategy then, assuming everyone has bought into the company strategy, they can also understand and support the content strategy too.
What if you don't have an overall business strategy?

It's not unusual to come across a company without a clear overall business strategy.  If you work for a company which doesn't have a vision, then developing an effective content strategy may be harder, and you may actually need to suggest forming a team to develop a business strategy, before you can develop the content strategy!  

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Proving The Value Of Investing In Online Content

How to show that content is valuable, that content is worth investing in, that a company should spend money on content marketing over a million other marketing strategies?  It can be really tricky, and while mulling it over today, it reminded me of similar discussions I would have regularly in my previous life as a news editor for a commercial radio station. 

Commercial radio news is a cost and cannot make money. OFCOM rules prevent you from selling news sponsorship, although you can sponsor the sport, weather and travel news. Being a cost is particularly difficult when a company is looking to cut costs, and commercial radio has been trying to cut costs for over 10 years now.

We would always argue that it was our high quality, well researched, well written, beautifully read news bulletins that encouraged people to listen. The common refrain from a journalist to a manager arguing about the cost of the news was always: "people won't listen to dead air."

Costs were cut, regularly and often, but local news remains in place (for now) and my former colleagues do an amazing job with ever decreasing budgets and ever increasing networking.

It strikes me that there are similarities between the arguments over the costs of news broadcasts and the costs of blogs, news articles, features, info graphics.... After all it's all content.  So how did we prove the value of news content in commercial radio and what lessons can be learnt by those who find they're tasked with proving the value of online content?

3 lessons that content strategists can learn from commercial radio news

  1. Research - Commercial radio is a competitive world and radio stations live and die by their RAJAR figures. It's all about how many listeners you have, because listeners = advertising revenue. So how do you get more listeners?  One of the favoured ways was to ask the listeners what they liked and disliked. Groups of them would be brought into the station, fed pizza and asked to divulge their deepest darkest listening habits.  And I'm delighted to tell you that these very wise listeners would, very helpfully, tell management how much they loved our news bulletins.  Can you conduct similar research?  Can you question users and find out what they like/dislike about the content you're producing or planning to produce?

  2. Education - Want people to understand the value of content? You've got to teach them! Use every opportunity to tell anyone who'll listen about what you do and how you do it.  See it as part of your job to teach your colleagues, managers and partners about the power of content. An important lesson from commercial radio: don't hide your light under a bushel. Promote what you and your team do internally and celebrate successes. It is your responsibility to make sure no-one in the company can say: "who are they and what do they do" about you and your team.

  3. Inclusion - Self-promotion can be ugly, avoid looking like a megalomaniac by getting everyone involved in what you do.  Get the whole company looking for news stories; encourage the sales team to phone-in when they get stuck in traffic on the way to a meeting; ask the news team to pass on leads to the sales team; encourage co-operation. This lesson from commercial radio could prove useful.  Perhaps the more you can involve people in your content strategy, the more likely they'll be to buy into it?