Managing Content Within a Business
Content strategy was first referenced by Ann Rockley in the late 1990s; however, its usage became more prevalent in 2009, when dedicated conferences like Confab arose, and multi-channel publishing increased in popularity. Content strategy revolves around the optimization of when content is published, edited, repurposed, republished, and archived. Content strategy also helps businesses plan ahead for content that also needs to be published in multiple places, such as multiple platforms.
Components of Content Strategy
Content Strategy includes four components: substance, structure, workflow, and governance. While substance and structure refer to the physical content itself, workflow and governance refer to the people responsible for executing and implementing the content. Content strategists will often specialize in one of the four components, but it is important to be familiar with all of the components.
- Substance refers to the message, voice, and type of the content being produced and released. These are often defined and created by content strategists.
- Structure often applies to specifying which technologies the content will be released on. For example, content placed on websites and content placed on apps will vary in their presentation.
- Workflow refers to the process, tools, and resources that a content team will need to execute and implement specific content.
- Governance relates to the hierarchy of decision making that occurs in the content creation and distribution process. It will also refer to the communication structure within the content strategy team.
Responsibilities of Content Strategists
While content strategists typically come into a project in the discovery and research phase, they are mostly responsible for the entire lifecycle of their content. In order to accomplish their goals, some tasks and methodologies that content strategists often use are:
- Content Inventory Management: Content strategists must create and keep track of their inventory in an organized manner. Typically, this is done through an Excel spreadsheet, or a similar platform. This inventory is usually then divided into different projects, each listing the content being used for that project. This content may include pages, but also pictures, PDFs, or videos. Auditing may be helpful to analyze the inventory to compare each content to that of a competitor or the business’ standard of quality. Through this audit, a content strategist, especially for on-page SEO can determine which pages to prioritize, create, edit, repurpose, or remove.
- Core Strategy: Like a business plan, the core strategy determines the overall direction, goals and vision for the content team. The core strategy therefore may include issues with current content, recommendations, priorities in upcoming time periods, and future timelines. This document or presentation may also help stakeholders and executives recognize the importance of content strategy, and align other departments or future goals with that of the direction of the content.
- CMS Research: Content Management Systems (CMS) house all content that is used and appears on any platform used by a business. There are many different CMSs that exist, so finding the most suitable CMS for that content strategy team requires research and consideration of the team’s goals, abilities, and scale.
- Content Mapping and Modeling: Content mapping helps a content strategy team identify types of content being used, and content modeling adds definition and structure to the map. This is useful for when the content is being transferred to another team, so that the content can be most effectively implemented on its platform.
- Voice and Tone Standardization: The voice and tone of all content should be standardized so that it suits the goals and branding of the business. Regardless of the platform of the content, it should align with the rest of the business’ relationship with their customers. For example, formal voice and tone should be maintained throughout all content if that aligns with the business’ branding.
Content strategy is crucial for many businesses, especially those in the media industry, to maintain their relevance and growth. Investing in content strategy teams with a strong direction and capabilities can often be the best way that a business stays innovating and a leader in its field.
"Complete Beginner's Guide to Content Strategy." UX Booth Content Strategy, UX Booth, n.d. "Content Strategy Basics." Usability.gov, Department of Health and Human Services, 24 Jan. 2016