What the Heck Is Content Strategy?
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What the Heck Is Content Strategy?

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I presented this to a group of graduate students in DePaul University's Introduction to User-Centered Design class to introduce them to content strategy and what to expect when working alongside one. ...

I presented this to a group of graduate students in DePaul University's Introduction to User-Centered Design class to introduce them to content strategy and what to expect when working alongside one. I've shared elements of it in other What Is Content Strategy-type presentations with colleagues. It's evolving, so feedback welcome.

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  • This is intended to be an introduction for people who are totally unfamiliar or vaguely familiar with content strategy. One day I will add visuals.
  • That’s photos, images, widgets, you name it.
  • Background was content first by default: serving readers by determining what we needed to present to them, then designing ourselves or going to creative director and proceeding with the edit and review process.
  • It can be overwhelming.
  • Ask these in a nice way! Empathize too.
  • I wrote these in response to questions from some folks outside of our department about what content strategists look for and wondering if there is a “content strategy template” we could apply. The amount seems overwhelming, but as you can see, these are topics to tackle throughout the process – a reason why its important content strategists have a seat at the table.
  • I use the term define here loosely. There likely are other people making decisions about these things; this is just meant to speak to what the content strategist either can take ownership of or would bring up topically to make sure the basics are covered. “Content Strategy for the Web” has a great line about how it doesn’t matter WHO does the work, just that it gets done. It’s true.

What the Heck Is Content Strategy? Presentation Transcript

  • 1. What the Heck Is Content Strategy? Sara Zailskas Walsh www.sarazailskas.com zails@yahoo.com
  • 2. What the Heck Is Content? Anything you put in front of the user
  • 3. Content Strategy Content strategy is determining the best way to present information to your audience so that it’s valuable and makes them want to come back for more.
  • 4. Content Strategy Content strategy defines how a business will use content to achieve its business objectives and meet user needs.* * Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach say this in “Content Strategy for the Web,” which I argue you should read if you plan to work with content
  • 5. Content Strategy By taking a content-first approach, content strategy ensures groups are working toward the same goals.
  • 6. Content Strategy & Me My editorial background is “content-first” by default; content-first is still new to non-publishing industries. (Today: I’m a UX Content Strategist with United.)
  • 7. Content Strategy Content strategy is particularly important on projects that span multiple channels and require multiple groups or departments – most likely all following their own processes, goals, and standards. Also: Content is political and personal.
  • 8. AHHHH!
  • 9. Your Content Strategy Cape We content strategists are liaisons, negotiators, and mediators as much as we are strategists, analysts, and user advocates. The responsibilities vary by company.
  • 10. A Few Typical Questions from a CS • Tell me about the goal of this. What are you trying to accomplish? • What do you want people to do with this? • Who are your trying to reach? • Is this the best presentation (Q&A? List? Video interview?) for this information? • What related content is in the pipeline? What’s out there? • What does this content look like across channels?
  • 11. Typical Questions from a CS Discovery phase: Research, Analysis, & Strategy Pre-Scope • What problems need solving? (User AND business goals) What are the reasons why we're making this update/taking on his project/etc.? • What does the business need as the end result of this update? • What does the user need? How do we know? • How does a user use this information? How do we know it's valuable to them? • Who is the main audience we're trying to reach? Who is the secondary audience? Tertiary? • What is top message we are communicating? The secondary and tertiary message? • What are the user actions we need performed? • What content do we HAVE to make sure to include -- based on user or business need? Where does it need to go (channel)? • What groups are effected by this content changing? • Who needs to know about this change right now? • Are there any legal limitations we have? • What are our technical limitations? • What are our competitors doing on this topic? What are their strengths and weaknesses? • Are there reasons to NOT take an omnichannel approach? • Will we employ active or passive personalization? To what degree? • Examples of deliverables to inform answers: Stakeholder needs interviews, user need interviews, business charter, scope document, competitive content analysis, user personas, SWOT analysis, customer journey diagram, etc.
  • 12. Typical Questions from a CS Post-Scope • What content do we have now? • Where does it live? Which channels? • How is it performing? • What can we get rid of? • What's missing? • What content do we HAVE to make sure to include -- based on user or business need? Where does it need to go (channel)? • How does our content map to the customer journey? What gaps do we have? Where can we expand? • What is top message we are communicating? The secondary and tertiary messages? • What user actions are our priorities? • Who is the main audience? Who is the secondary audiences? • What is our SEO strategy in regard to this topic? • Do we intend this to be shared? How? • What resources for content creation, design, and development will we need to meet user and biz needs? What resources exist? (Anything from people to style guides) • Who will own the content? How will it be maintained? • Are the content owners willing to commit to maintaining it, or is that something we need to figure out? • What is our strategy: how will we use content to meet our biz and users need? What's the approach? • What is our personalization strategy? Are we prepared to support it as technology and our user needs change? • How will we know our content is successful? How will we measure success? • Examples of deliverables: content audit and analysis; gap analysis; ecosystem analysis; scenarios and use cases; content strategy statement; etc.
  • 13. Typical Questions from a CS Content Planning, Creation & Design • How does the user want this information presented? (Text, chart, video, images, etc.) How does it differ according to channel? • What does the business require us to include? • What are the legal requirements? • What are user requirements? • Where will this content live? How will users find it? How will search engines find it? • How does a user use this specific information? How do we know it's valuable to them? • What is the intended action for the user on this page? (Aim for an answer not tied to an emotional response, i.e. They will love our company.) • How will this user get this information on each channel? What information is most important in each channel/in that user moment? • How will it be presented differently on each of the channels? What if they switch devices? What is that experience like? • Where else do we as a company talk about this content? Is it consistent? • Will the content we're planning change in the future? How easy will it be to update and remain consistent? • Check: Is what we're planning matching up with our overall goals for the business? For the user experience? For the channel? • Check: Is what we're planning matching our strategy? • Does this updated content align with what the user will see in advertising, direct mail, email, etc.? (Messaging, voice/tone, facts, etc.) • What's the best language to use to communicate what we need? (For fundability, user understanding, SEO, etc.) • What meta data do we need to update? What's the current meta data performance? • Who will maintain this content? How much maintenance will it require? • Are the content owners willing to commit to what this will require to be fresh, accurate, etc.? • Examples of deliverables: content requirements documents for user tasks; page tables; wireframes; prototype content; etc. Implementation, Maintenance & Measurement … the questions continue. Will update this presentation with more for this portion.
  • 14. Typical Content Strategy Activities • Content Audit (incl. SEO analysis) • Competitive Analysis • Gap Analysis • Map content to Customer Journey • Ecosystem Analysis
  • 15. Typical Content Strategy Activities Ecosystem Analysis – Analyze Users, Travel Modes, and Content Lifecycle – Analyze stakeholder needs – Analyze internal factors impacting content – Analyze external factors impacting content – Analyze workflow – Analyze channel interaction – Analyze localization and globalization – Document Tech, CMS, other systems
  • 16. Typical Content Strategy Activities • Define Governance & Maintenance – Authoring, ownership – Process, Procedures – Plans, Priorities – Content Policies – Guidelines • Define Reuse Strategy • Define SEO Strategy • Determine performance metrics • Plan for content development (via content requirements, page tables, etc.)
  • 17. Skill Sets Serve as Jack-of-all trades: writer, editor, information architect, researcher, analyst But again, the responsibilities vary by company and its needs.
  • 18. What Does a Content Strategy Look Like? (My content strategy for my Facebook page. Because I’m a dork.) Presentation Title 18 Post commentary, observations, and photos that communicate an opinion, perspective, or life milestone that is truly important to me AND relevant and valuable to my Facebook friends who want to stay connected to me.
  • 19. What Does a Content Strategy Statement Look Like? Presentation Title 19 Post commentary, observations, and photos that communicate an opinion, perspective, or life milestone that is truly important to me AND relevant and valuable to my Facebook friends who want to stay connected to me. This is what I’m doing. (Posting)
  • 20. What Does a Content Strategy Statement Look Like? Presentation Title 20 Post commentary, observations, and photos that communicate an opinion, perspective, or life milestone that is truly important to me AND relevant and valuable to my Facebook friends who want to stay connected to me. This is the content I’m publishing.
  • 21. What Does a Content Strategy Statement Look Like? Presentation Title 21 Post commentary, observations, and photos that communicate an opinion, perspective, or life milestone that is truly important to me AND relevant and valuable to my Facebook friends who want to stay connected to me. This is what the content is about.
  • 22. What Does a Content Strategy Statement Look Like? Presentation Title 22 Post commentary, observations, and photos that communicate an opinion, perspective, or life milestone that is truly important to me AND relevant and valuable to my Facebook friends who want to stay connected to me. This is who I’m publishing for: my broad Facebook community.
  • 23. What Does a Content Strategy Statement Look Like? Presentation Title 23 Post commentary, observations, and photos that communicate an opinion, perspective, or life milestone update that is truly important to me AND relevant and valuable to my Facebook friends who want to stay connected to me. The end game – the reason why we’re FB friends.
  • 24. What Does a Content Strategy Statement Look Like? Presentation Title 24 Post commentary, observations, and photos that communicate an opinion, perspective, or life milestone that is truly important to me AND relevant and valuable to my Facebook friends who want to stay connected to me. This sets criteria for what I publish so my audience will get something out of it – and hopefully won’t unfriend me.
  • 25. How do I apply it? 25 Oh my God! I love these eggs! This is the best egg batch ever. I’m having the best morning! I’m going to take a picture and post on Facebook!
  • 26. How do I apply it? 26 Hmm… this photo isn’t very good. My eggs look gross. I’m not sure what to write in my post. … WAIT. Maybe I shouldn’t post it.
  • 27. How do I apply it? 27 Will people care I’m eating eggs? Will they get something out of seeing these eggs? I don’t have a recipe to post, and these eggs are not that important to me. I don’t have anything unique to share. I will spare my friends a bad photo of eggs and not post until I have something better to say.
  • 28. Get-Started Resources 28 1. READ KRISTINA HALVORSON and MELISSA RACH’S “CONTENT STRATEGY FOR THE WEB (v. 2.0)” 2. Check out the Content Strategy Google Group 3. Go to hear speakers like Kristina Halvorson, Karen McGrane, Jared Spool, Kevin Nichols, etc. at Event Apart, Confab, and many other great user experience or content strategy conferences. And feel free to email me with questions: zails@yahoo.com