Sunday, September 26, 2010

You Want to Know What a Content Strategy is? First, Think Communications and the Glue That Holds All the Pieces of a holistic Marketing and Communications Strategy.

Last Tuesday night, I attended my first SF Content Strategy Meetup. It was titled "A Day in the Life of a Content Strategist: Panel Discussion." Speakers were Kris Corzine, Content Strategist, eBay
John Alderman, Creative Director, Razorfish and CC Holland, Content Strategist, Cisco. The moderator was Frank Marquardt of Barbarian Group, who hosted.

So what is a content strategy and how does it fit into other categories thrown around the Online Mar/Com world? What's the intersection between content strategy, social media, mobile, interactive gaming, brand creation, brand strategy, user interface, design? Content provides the underpinning to all of these departments and so the content strategist asks the questions that help determine how all these content pieces and divisions work together to realize a company or organization's goals.

Content is not just about writing, not about stuff. It is about asking the questions of what stuff should be created and then asking again, why? It is about drilling down to the basic, almost simplistic questions: how does this relate to larger goals, how will users understand how to consume content, how does a brand communicate its message?

How do content strategist provide deliverables? The panel and audience came up with multiple options: Content Inventory, A Content Audit, (yes) Editorial Style Guides with SEO chapters, Social Reward Maxtrixes.

The Content Strategists works across departments to enable conversations and most importantly, ground those conversations around concrete goals. Most often, the content strategists role is found in AVOIDING and SOLVING marketing/communication obstacles simply by saying, "NO."

NO to the flashy new campaign idea that confuses the consumer.
NO to the creative concept that sounds good in a conference room, but tries to change user behavior before the user is ready.
NO to user interface content that overwhelms.

Content Strategy makes a difference when an organization, company or client has that "Ahha Moment." Razorfish's John Alderman gave the best example. He shared Yahoo's dilemna is creating a new celebrity site/component to Yahoo. After hours of rigorous brainstorming, thousands of questions -- who are we talking to, what are we trying to stay, what do we want to the user to think -- John's content group came up with the recommendation to create a new microsite, OMG. It fit. An Ahha Moment ensued.

Content Strategists need to document these successful case studies. This will be the subject of future MeetUps. Check them out. In four years of regularly attending these events, last Tuesdays ranked as one of the most valuable I have attended.

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