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Content Strategy as a Methodology

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Content Strategy as a Methodology

  1. 1. Content Strategy as a Methodology Rachel Lovinger July 19, 2019 – Design & Content Conference Photo by julochka
  2. 2. Rachel Lovinger Content Strategy Director • 13 years consulting as a Content Strategist • 7 years in digital publishing, at Time Inc. • Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data (Boxes & Arrows, 2007) • Nimble: A Razorfish Report on Publishing in the Digital Age (2010) • Areas of Focus: Structured content, metadata, content modeling, author experience, production processes and tools • Twitter: @rlovinger 2
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  6. 6. We are still grappling with the question: What is this practice we call “content strategy”? 6
  7. 7. “Content strategy guides the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.” By Kristina Halvorson, Author of Content Strategy for the Web 7
  8. 8. “We define content strategy as: getting the right content to the right user at the right time.” By Kevin P. Nichols, Author of Enterprise Content Strategy: A Project Guide 8
  9. 9. “Content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design.” By Rachel Lovinger, from “Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data.” 9
  10. 10. These definitions speak to the value of content strategy, but none of them tell us what a content strategist actually does 10
  11. 11. 11 There’s no set path to content strategy People come from all different backgrounds, a wide range of roles that work with content. This ability to adopt and adapt the learnings of other disciplines has allowed our practice and our community to grow really fast. Illustration by Richard Ingram
  12. 12. Sample Skills & Expertise • Quantitative & qualitative content audits • Competitive assessments • User needs assessments • Content analysis and recommendations • Information architecture • Tagging strategy and development • Content creation and migration planning • Content workflow and governance • Social and content marketing • Content database creation and maintenance • Current and future state sitemapping • Copy deck template for migration and redesign • Copywriting and copyediting 12 • Content modeling for CMS • Metadata & Taxonomy • Content Vision & requirements • Content authoring operations • Data integrity • Business process transformation • Content strategies for emerging tech • Content organizational design • Content globalization and localization strategies • Content marketing • Editorial strategies • Platform & channel strategies • Personalization strategies • Product, brand, and enterprise content strategies • CMS management • Translation management • Taxonomies & site maps • Content wireframes • Content calendars & planning • Content branding (end-to-end) • Digital integration (360-degree) • Artificial Intelligence vocabularies, responses & brand alignment • Copydeck/Content Matrix coordination • Video production • Blogging • Community management Gathered from just eight (8) of the content strategy practitioners in my company
  13. 13. The blind men and the elephant Everyone wants to define the whole field by the parts that are most familiar to them. 13 Illustration from “The Discipline of Content Strategy,” by Kristina Halvorson (2008).
  14. 14. This wealth of variety also leads to several 14 Photo by Jeff Eaton
  15. 15. “We need a content unicorn” Too broad • Job descriptions looking for a candidate who can do everything you can imagine with content. Too focused? • Job descriptions labeled “content strategy” that are focused entirely on digital content creation, or marketing campaigns. Not sure what to call it • Trying to recruit from a wider range of people, some of whom may not yet identify as “content strategist” 15 Difficulty hiring the right talent Photo by julochka
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  17. 17. “I’m up for anything” Ready? Or just willing? • Sometimes people say “I can do it” when what they mean is “I’m willing to learn”. Burning bridges • Saying whatever you need to do to get your foot in the door might seem like a good idea at the time, but it can backfire. Missed opportunities • If you’re not clear about your actual strengths and experience, you could be missing out on a chance (and need) to use those skills. 17 Difficulty finding projects that are a good fit Photo by julochka
  18. 18. “Hands off, that’s my domain” Unchartered territory • Claim ownership of content strategy work that was falling through the cracks. Contested territory • Advocate for content needs that have been glossed over because others didn’t understand the priority. 18 Territorialism is sometimes necessary Photo by Chris Christian
  19. 19. Claiming your domain “I’m going to make recommendations for… sustainable content, reusable content, relevant content, useful & usable content, user-friendly authoring experiences, intuitive interface copy, learning level appropriate content, tone appropriate content, on-brand content… and/or hundreds of other decisions about the content.” 19
  20. 20. “Hands off, that’s my domain” Unchartered territory • Claim ownership of content strategy work that was falling through the cracks. Contested territory • Advocate for content needs that have been glossed over because others didn’t understand the priority. Own your domain • Demonstrate the value you bring to others and “rivals” will come to recognize you as allies. 20 Territorialism is sometimes necessary Photo by Chris Christian
  21. 21. “I hear you’re the content expert” Having to explain what you don’t do • We often have to clarify things like “I’m not a copywriter” or “I’m not a content marketing expert.” Learning opportunities • It’s perfectly fine to say “I’ve never worked with conversational interfaces, but I’m eager to learn.” (It’s also ok not to.) Play to your strengths • Propose how you could make better contributions using the skills and experience you do possess. Establishing boundaries Photo by Maia Weinstock
  22. 22. “I can’t do all that…” 22 Photo by JD Hancock Imposter Syndrome
  23. 23. “Content Strategy” means wildly different things to different people The Elephant Problem Illustration from “The Discipline of Content Strategy,” by Kristina Halvorson (2008).
  24. 24. Practitioners of Content Strategy Taxonomist UX Writer Search Content Strategist Content Designer Tech Writer Editorial Strategist Social Media Strategist Content Marketer Product Content Strategist Content Engineer Information Scientist Strategist Information Architect Data Scientist 24 Copywriter UX Designer Photo source: Content Planner CMS Developer
  25. 25. WHAT IF… Content Strategy is a methodology, not a practice 25
  26. 26. No one would just say “I’m a Scientist” Biology: Anatomy, Astrobiology, Biochemistry, Biogeography, Biological engineering, Biophysics, Behavioral neuroscience, Biotechnology, Botany, Cell biology, Conservation biology, Cryobiology, Developmental biology, Ecology, Ethnobiology, Ethology, Evolutionary biology, Genetics, Gerontology, Immunology, Limnology, Marine biology, Microbiology, Molecular biology, Neuroscience, Paleontology, Parasitology, Physiology, Radiobiology, Soil biology, Sociobiology, Systematics, Toxicology, Zoology Chemistry: Acid-base, Analytical, Environmental, Inorganic, Nuclear, Organic, Physical, Solid-state, Supramolecular, Sustainable, Theoretical, Astrochemistry, Biochemistry, Crystallography, Food chemistry, Geochemistry, Materials science, Molecular physics, Photochemistry, Radiochemistry, Stereochemistry, Surface science Earth sciences: Climatology, Ecology, Edaphology, Environmental science, Geodesy, Geography, Geology, Geomorphology, Geophysics, Glaciology, Hydrology, Limnology, Meteorology, Oceanography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology, Palynology, Pedology, Volcanology Healthcare: Medicine, Veterinary, Dentistry, Midwifery, Epidemiology, Pharmacy, Nursing Physics: Classical, Modern, Applied, Experimental, Mechanics, Molecular, Nuclear, Particle, Plasma, Quantum mechanics, General relativity, Thermodynamics 26 There are many practices in “Science” Photo by Chris Christian
  27. 27. The Scientific Method • A body of techniques for investigating phenomena • Employs systematic, empirical observation and measurement • Verified through repeated experiments • Based on the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses All Science practices share these common elements 27
  28. 28. What would the Content Strategy Method look like? 28
  29. 29. Proposal: The Content Strategy Method The common elements needed to systematically solve content problems 29 CONTENT A body of tactics for working with content STRATEGY VIABLE Interdisciplinary collaboration STRATEGY Measurable goals, strategic initiatives EFFECTIVE User-centered focus for making decisions
  30. 30. A body of tactics for working with content • The techniques we use to analyze content and content needs • The frameworks we use to describe the content problems and recommendations • The activities, templates, and tools we use to execute on the recommendations 30 Photo by Chris Christian
  31. 31. Measurable goals, supported by strategic initiatives • What are you trying to accomplish? (Goals) • How are you going to accomplish it? (Strategy) • Then select the Tactics that will enable these goals and strategies. 31 Photo by Alexander Kluge
  32. 32. User-centered focus for making decisions • User needs: If your content isn’t meeting user needs, they’re going to take their time, energy, attention and money elsewhere. • Unconscious bias: Learning to see past our own beliefs and expectations and understanding needs that are different from our own. • Business needs: The goals your employer or clients pay you to work towards will only be met if you meet your users’ needs! 32 Photo by Chris
  33. 33. Interdisciplinary collaboration • This can’t be a solo effort. You need to work with others to make it viable. • Working with people from other disciplines brings diverse points of view on needs and requirements. • When people feel ownership of decisions and solutions, they’re invested in making it work over the long term. 33 Photo by Wellspring Community School
  34. 34. 34 Goal: Engage guests in helping the hotel reduce environmental impact. Strategy: Provide clear instructions on a simple step guests can take to participate in the hotel’s green efforts. Two points of failure: 1. The rack has no space 2. They left new towels anyway
  35. 35. What it means for different roles to use Content Strategy Methodology in their practices 35 Editorial Strategist Social Media Strategist UX Designer CMS Developer UX Writer
  36. 36. Editorial Strategist Sample goal: Develop brand awareness and loyalty. 36 Strategic Initiative Plan the creation of useful, usable content that conveys less-known, valuable features of the products. Key Collaboration • Copywriters • Creative/Production • Business Stakeholders Tactics • User research surveys • Traffic analytics • Editorial calendar • Creative brief • Editorial guidelines • Content governance User-Centered • What content are your users looking for? • What content will engage them and inspire them to return?
  37. 37. UX Writer Sample goal: Improve interaction with site features. 37 Strategic Initiative Update messaging and improve navigational elements to reduce friction and barriers to interaction. Key Collaboration • UX Designers • Product Managers Tactics • Stakeholder interviews • Competitive analysis • Site exit surveys • Customer service logs • User testing • Content style guide User-Centered • What’s blocking users from doing what they want to do? • What words and tone make sense to them?
  38. 38. Social Media Strategist Sample goal: Drive brand engagement via content likes/shares. 38 Strategic Initiative Determine the best cadence, topics, formats, and channels to get high business-value information in front of users when it’s timely and useful. Key Collaboration • Business Owners • Content Creators • Data Scientists Tactics • Social listening tools • Content planning • Channel planning • Influencer partnerships • Social metrics User-Centered • Where does your audience go for info and discussion? • What types of content appeal to them?
  39. 39. CMS Architect Sample goal: Reduce effort of content production. 39 Strategic Initiative Select and configure a CMS to support the business’s production and publishing processes. Key Collaboration • Product Managers • UX Designers • Content Producers Tactics • Evaluate processes • Assess pain points and new requirements • Define content model and metadata schema User-Centered • What tasks are the content producers trying to fulfill? • What’s blocking them?
  40. 40. UX Designer Sample goal: Improve findability on a content-heavy site. 40 Strategic Initiative Employ user-centered design principles to create a digital experience that better empowers people to find the information they’re looking for. Key Collaboration • Strategists • Product Managers • UX Writers • Developers • Data Scientists Tactics • Content audit • Site search logs • IA for navigation & site structure • Content hierarchy • Card sorting User-Centered • What information do the users need to achieve their goals? • How are they hoping/ expecting to find it?
  41. 41. What would this look like for some other Practitioners of Content Strategy? Taxonomist UX Writer Search Content Strategist Content Designer Tech Writer Editorial Strategist Social Media Strategist Content Marketer Product Content Strategist Content Engineer Information Scientist Strategist Information Architect Data Scientist 41 Copywriter UX Designer Photo source: Content Planner CMS Developer
  42. 42. Everyone may not be a Content Strategist, but everyone can use Content Strategy Methodology in their work 42
  43. 43. IMPLICATIONS 43 Photo by Chris
  44. 44. By being more specific about our content skills or needs, we will find it much easier to: • Sell content-related work • Hire talent • Find good projects to work on and teams to work with Express yourself! 44 Photo by julochka
  45. 45. Advocate the benefits of content strategy to people in other disciplines by sharing tools & frameworks. 45 Photo by Robert McGoldrick
  46. 46. Scale content strategy for smaller organizations, where roles may not be as specialized 46 Photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid
  47. 47. We need to get more specific in identifying what we do, how we do it, and why it’s valuable. Stop worrying about whether that does or doesn’t qualify as “content strategy”. Call to action 47 Photo by Jonathan
  48. 48. thank you