No one ever said, “I want to be a content strategist when I grow up,” because the job didn’t exist until the 2000s. Managing content was never an issue until the web exploded with various ways to obtain information. Today, some technical writers are honing their skills and becoming content strategists.
The concept of content strategy was a mystery to me until recently. As a young professional in the 21st century, I’ve had to utilize many different types of media not only to obtain a job, but to maintain one as well. In order to be competitive in the job market – no matter your age – being knowledgeable in using media to accomplish a specific task is a necessity. Whether it’s a website, blog, or social media, there is always a need for content, but is it good content? Is it useful? Is it relevant?
The buzz for content strategy was started by Kristina Havlorson in her article, The Discipline of Content Strategy. She defines content strategy as a plan for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.
As technical communicators, it’s not enough to simply communicate in a clear and concise manner. It’s important that the information is usable as it’s presented. Before the web, technical writers only had to worry about publishing information in one form. Today, the same content can be distributed among several different avenues; the content may be the same, but it needs to cater to the specific outlet used. This is important because if the content isn’t usable, it’s useless. This problem can be avoided with a content strategy.
A content strategy isn’t just a plan or schedule; it’s a strategy for ongoing maintenance and sustainable growth. John Eckman, a digital strategist, defines it best: “Strategy is using limited resources to accomplish a goal.” Companies are investing in content strategies to save time and money in the long run. For example, if a company launches a website but never updates the content or adapts to changes in the work culture, it will no longer be relevant and therefore useless. Customers can’t use the information and the company loses business. With a strategy that maintains content, this will not happen, and since it has been planned out from the beginning, the company doesn’t have to worry about making changes — it happens naturally. That’s just one example of how content strategy can be effective. There are so many different aspects of content strategy that can be pivotal to the successful execution of content that I can’t even begin to discuss them here, but just know that having a strategy gives the content a boost. Having a strategy from the beginning ensures the use of the content is more likely to be successful.
If you aren’t in the position to practice content strategy in your career, it can be mastered in your everyday life. Think about it, if you have a blog or social media account you are distributing content to represent you or your ideas. We naturally organize our Facebook statuses and Twitter posts, but how much more successful could we be at conveying the message we want if we strategized? How many more blog views could we get if we strategized the how and when content is delivered?
Try it out. For more ideas on using content strategy in social media, check out The 4-Step Social Media Content Strategy.