More than half a decade into the content marketing revolution and there’s a lot of talk about the potholes. “It’s expensive and hard to measure.” “Content overload.” “There’s too much second-rate content.”
Some of that is certainly true and there are ways to fix it. However, it’s important you don’t get so caught up by the condition of the road that you forget why you’re behind the wheel.
Content marketing, with its tactics and metrics, has stolen so much air that it’s easy to forget its birthplace: content strategy.
Why is this important? Because content strategy is all about content. And content – recently described succinctly as the ebb and flow of our cultural narrative – flows in very different ways under our digital moon.
Content strategy provides us with the roadmap to navigate and embrace the huge external cultural and social change in how we communicate. It identifies the reason, purpose and approach for communicating with the outside world.
Therefore it’s bigger than just marketing. Content strategy is a way of thinking that needs to sit at the heart of every business and be applied right across your organisation.
Here are just a few ways of how it plays out.
Audiences commune in groups inside devices. They delve deep, judge quickly, get what they want and leave without so much as cheery-bye.
In the highly competitive digital and commercial jungle, they expect to be at the centre of your world. If not, they’ll go elsewhere. Ditto if you bore them or confuse them. They’ve got the choice.
- Content strategy principle: Audience is at the centre of everything you do.
- Content strategy approach: Forget what you want to say. What does your audience want/need/like? Where do they spend time? Now create. Measure to see if they liked it. Recalibrate. Create.
- Where to apply: Marketing, sales, business planning, R&D, comms, advertising, customer service.
Everyone has a microphone
You can probably point the finger directly at social media for this one, but society no longer likes to be lectured. And they expect to be given the chance to return serve.
Companies, governments, brands and media no longer own the megaphone. Get on your soapbox and you’ll likely be toppled off.
We don’t need someone else to tell us how it is. We’ve got our own opinions and stories. We expect to have our say, tell our stories, be heard and answered.
- Content strategy principle: Embrace the great democratisation of opinion.
- Content strategy approach: What does the audience want to talk/know about? Create detailed information to help inform them. Create channels to converse. Create opportunities for audiences to publish their own thoughts or content.
- Where to apply: Marketing, PR, community relations, sales, customer service, internal comms.
Knowledge is power; knowledge is free
From rubbing two sticks together through to the Encyclopaedia Britannica that sits on the bookshelves of most households, our love of learning, exploring and discovery is part of who we are.
With more than two trillion searches performed every year, Google is a verb. We’re truly empowered. Everyone is a research machine. We can find out what we want, when we want – fast and for free.
We expect transparency and instant access to knowledge. Fudge or muddy that view and expect to be treated with distrust. The truth is out there and we will find it.
- Content strategy principle: Knowledge is good; knowledge is to be shared for the benefit of all.
- Content strategy approach: Do I know something special that someone else might like to know? Create. Measure. Recalibrate. Repeat.
- Where to apply: Marketing, sales, R&D, corporate governance, internal comms, PR, customer service, supply chain.
So if you’re struggling with your content marketing, that’s okay. Get back to basics – revisit your strategy, your audience, the quality and types of content, your channels and tweak. Keep learning, testing, listening and measuring.
Just don’t stop trying. Content strategy is the new narrative of our modern world. It’s part of a bigger cultural change. It’s important, exciting and not always easy. We’re only just getting started.