Every time I hand over my business card, I am confronted with such questions;
“What does a content strategist do?”
” What is it that you do exactly?”
“Content strategist… wow… that’s a new word!”
You see, I put the title for two reasons 1) as a conversation starter and 2) I consider myself that. When I get to answering these question, I use the 5w 1h as used in journalism. I have found it is much easier for me to explain the complex discipline to the curious people.
What is Content Strategy?
At the most basic level, majority of content created online is geared towards meeting the needs of users as people visit a site to accomplish a specific task. This may include;
- Register for an event, newsletter, webinar
- Purchase a product
- Get more information on a business, product or service
- Get something for free e.g. an ebook, case study, coupon, advice, tips
- Entertainment and edutainment …e.t.c
Every piece of content you create should seek to accomplish the perceived need. Remember, no two strategies will be similar as the process of crafting one is dependent on business goals, industry, customers, branding strategy, marketing and communication strategy e.t.c.
A further look at the word reveals two co-joined words – content and strategy.
CONTENT – any stuff you have online
- Website, microsite, presentations, mobisite
- Social media profiles, forums, tweets, status, discussions
- Blog, e-newsletters, webinars, podcasts, e-classes
- Multimedia – photos, videos, slideshows, infographics
- Your circles, fans, followers, subscribers
STRATEGY – a plan to achieve a goal
- Goal – brand awareness, increase sales, thought leadership, customer service, new product launch etc
- Plan – email marketing, social media marketing, PPC, blogging, webinar, podcasts, mobile apps etc
So, what does a content strategist do?
Let me explain using my earlier blunders…
When I started writing online I had the liberty of coming up with the topics as there was no structured format. At first I did not have a plan or calendar on what to write about. This meant the topics I chose were very unrelated, unconnected and confusing to myself and the readers.
This was really exasperating. I realised I needed a game plan in my writing projects as the lack of such a plan was driving me crazy. The first thing I did was to come up with monthly themes. This helped me zero in on topics, people to interview, where to source for images and content, length of post, distribution and monitoring. At the time, I did not know I was actually strategizing on what I was working on. I have carried this practice to date though I have expanded to include other components of content strategy.
You can use the 5w 1h model to explain the concept from various angles. In this post, we discuss it in its simplest format to explain what content strategy is all about.
Why are you saying it?
Starting with your business goal, it is important to zero in on why you want to be online. Guided by your goal, your content strategy should be geared to answering the why.
What are you going to say?
Once you have identified the why, it is important to understand what you are going to say to your target audience. What tone are you going to use? How often will you say it?
Who to say it to?
The next step is understanding your target market and audience when crafting your strategy. Where do they congregate online and offline? This will ensure that your what and content developed will resonate with the who.
Where are you to post what you want to say?
This means identifying the most appropriate distribution channels and tools. Social media marketing, email marketing, online ads, blogging…etc are all channels that you can use to publish your what. Choosing the where at that the right when for the appropriate who is paramount.
When you are going to say it?
Timing is everything. What are you going to say now? in three months? in six months? a year?
How are you going to say it?
Is it through a tweet, a status update, an email shot, training, webinar, slideshow, blog post…etc? These are key in delivering your what.
Content strategy is the foundation for all online marketing and informs a business the best approaches they can deploy and implement to realise their goals. With a content strategy, your content development activities will be more aligned and efficient (unlike my early days online).
So, next time we meet and you ask for my business card, you’ll know what a content strategist does.