It’s hard not to think of content and content strategy as buzzwords, with how frequently they’re tossed around in meetings and online articles. We hear “Content is king,” “go viral,” and “clickbait” noted as if they’re tangible goals to achieve. Views and shares may be awesome to count, but once the traffic bump dies down, where does that leave you?
Content itself is very broadly defined: it’s any way of showcasing or presenting information to an audience, oftentimes now a digital one. This could include everything from a social media video to a published e-book to an interactive display. It could be material that is curated from multiple sources. It could also be content that is specifically produced to be a crucial part of a company’s marketing efforts.
To make your content really worthwhile and long-lasting, it must be meaningful to the audience who is consuming it. That involves conscious planning and purposeful content creation and / or curation.
Most notably, it requires a strategy. Content strategy is the establishing of business problems to be solved or goals to be achieved that carefully planned and developed content can effectively address.
Strategically published content can play many roles for a business or organization – offer new perspectives, dispel misconceptions, reveal information, provide entertainment, increase audience engagement, uncover results, display insights, highlight updates, and more. As long as there’s something your customers (and other audiences) should know – and you have content that can meaningfully address that – your content will have a purpose. Codifying that purpose into a plan is the role good content strategy serves.
Content strategies: Storytelling with intent
Cogent content strategies have the power to shape perception. They have the power to change minds. And, as a result, they have the power to elevate brands in the minds of the consumers they serve – as well as those they don’t. Building a well-crafted content strategy involves first identifying what business goals or problems need to be addressed.
It also involves developing an understanding of what content – and what content types – are best suited to addressing these issues. This is where content strategy and content marketing overlap. While content strategy and content marketing are not inherently the same thing, they do have the potential to be the happy marriage of creativity and strategic thinking that produces results.
Content strategies are crafted from a variety of resources related to your designated audience: topic research, search listening, site analytics, social media review, keyword research, user interviews, and a great deal more. Properly harnessed, well-curated and well-crafted content is really a form of storytelling that purposefully engages users.
Why is this important? Because your users aren’t just data: they are readers, and viewers, and people. They have interests and questions, and if they are willing to engage, your brand’s content should answer them.
Websites, social media channels and other digital outlets that emphasize the quantity of content risk being perceived as “content factories” that are only there for quick clicks and views. Once readers realize their headlines are grabby, the info is thin, and the copy is bombarded with bad links or poor writing, they quickly turn elsewhere. However, in this regard, brands would be well advised to consider themselves content publishers. And just like traditional publishers, they need to be committed to their audience. The best way to do this is to focus on providing rich, thought-provoking material that delivers quality, detailed answers to their readers.
Search engines are smart enough to comb webpages for sensical, informative content over stuffed keywords. Publishing reputable content that brings users back and keeps them on your site not only creates a positive experience, but is a key building block in developing a sustainable and enduring relationship with your fans and followers.
In fact, the benefits of content strategy go beyond ROI for time spent on a site or views amassed. Over time, it can grow brand awareness, build a returning audience, strengthen industry authority, improve SEO & web presence, lead to eventual conversions or sales, gather customer data, and involve users with interesting work.
The best content is authentic content
There are plenty of stats, trends and opinions to be mindful of when it comes to publishing web content, but ultimately whatever you publish should be authentic to your brand values. It should advance tangible and clearly articulated business goals. Solid content strategy is the mechanism for ensuring that your content is carefully crafted to do just this.
Interested in learning more about how to make a purposeful impact with your content? Contact us to take the conversation further.