Content strategy: A two-way mirror between you and your audience

In my work with various clients, I find that many people see content strategists as only outsiders involved when a website is being redesigned. This is a huge missed opportunity, and I wanted to share some thoughts about that.

Content strategy guides an organization to create its content most effectively. One of the key jobs of the in-house content strategist is to promote (or “curate”) the organization’s products, programs, and other offerings in a way that they will resonate most with the audience.

Let’s assume that the people inside the organization who create those offerings are very good at what they do, that the products, programs, events, and publications absolutely rock.

Sometimes, though, the deeper someone’s expertise, the harder it is for them to “unknow what they know.” While the following event description might be clear to the event’s intended audience, we can’t be sure:

NWA 2013 Technology & Program Integrity Conference | NWICA

NWA is collaborating with FNS to incorporate the EBT Users Group meeting and program integrity into the former NWA Technology Conference.

I don’t know what the NWA is, nor what “program integrity” means, nor what FNS or EBT are. Do you? I certainly hope the event’s audience does!

As I wrote recently, content isn’t about itself — it’s about who you are, what you think, know, and do

But providing the audience lens to content authors is one face of internal content strategy. The other is to advocate for the content authors with many others who create the framework they work in:

  • about the essential value of content to the organization, since content is the key way the organization’s stuff will be found by its audience on search engines, social media, e-communications, and on the website. These conversations are often about having enough people to truly manage the organization’s content.
  • with IT, since the tools that they build or buy must be possible for the content authors to use to create content quickly and easily, enable it to surface automatically or easily if it must be manual, enable it to be interacted with through sharing, commenting, etc.
  • with user experience experts, who may not be familiar enough with the content volatility (publishing volume and frequency) to create the right organization structure for the content

This internal-advocate role enables the right content to get “out there” most effectively, so that the organization’s wonderful offerings get the exposure they deserve.

How else do content strategists reflect both the internal world to the organization and the organization to the external world? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.

 

2 Comments to Content strategy: A two-way mirror between you and your audience

  1. EGR says:

    Suppose your client produces lots of content–blogs, white papers, commentaries and more, some of which well represents the brand, some not so much. You show them metrics on what engages users, but still, they keep writing it all. Have there been certain metrics that have been especially helpful in guiding clients on which content to focus on? Thanks!

    • Hilary Marsh says:

      That’s a great question. I think you have two options:

      1. Show the client how the less-engaging content gets in the way of the more effective information. That might be in search results, real estate space on key landing pages, etc. That’s part of the outside-in mirror of the content strategist.

      2. Talk about the benefits of focusing their attention on the types of content that work. Engagement begets more engagement, and less engagement results in less. So if they’re dividing their time evenly between the more-engaging and the less-engaging kinds of content, they’re actually hurting themselves in the long run.

      I hope that helps!

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