Develop Your Content Strategy

Content strategy is an emerging discipline in the digital world. It works hand in hand with public relations, traditional marketing, SEO, content marketing, web development, interface design and user experience. 
This new niche has various definitions but according to Mark O’Brien, a marketing author, it refers to ‘a plan for adding unique, expert and indexable content to your site on a regular basis.’ It is essentially a plan that helps both individuals and organizations create and maintain content relevant to their audience. It outlines the process from no content/too much or bad content to useful, understandable content people actually care about.
The main aim of creating a content strategy is to fulfil users’ expectation of your online content and meet business objectives. It all begins with team work. According to Kristina Halvorson, BrainTraffic CEO and founder of ConFab, user experience, design, information architecture, copywriting, development, SEO, marketing, public relations and business stakeholders should be involved in the process. This does not mean calling a meeting to brainstorm. Such an approach will bring about the ‘too many cooks’ phenomenon. 
What should be done instead is get the heads of Creative and User Experience (this refers to a person’s perception of a product or service i.e a computer application or website, developed after prolonged use) and two other people from the different disciplines to come up with the content strategy. Specialist from other disciplines in the same niche should then be involved to view the strategy, make necessary changes then implement.
When developing the content, it is necessary to match it with the audience’s literacy level in order to get your message across. In short, keep the language simple and clear. Also, as taught in journalism classes, employ the Five Ws and H: Who, What, When, Why, Where and How. Answer these questions in the content development process to ensure the material is both relevant and timely.
The other aspect of a content strategy is SEO writing. The current general consensus is that SEO is dead; it is getting harder to design content to appear on the top of page one on a Google search. This may be the case but this move by Google was to reduce spamming and force content developers to produce quality writing in order to be ranked higher on a search. It is important to avoid repeating keywords unnecessarily; the aim is to tailor your content around the brand, not the keyword(s).
To understand where your site content stands:
      1.       Analyze
What kind of content are you dealing with? What content is needed? Who cares? A         content audit will help answer these questions.
      2.       Collect
What are your key themes and messages? Once established, create a plan for the creation and authorization of content.
      3.       Publish
Where does the content live on the website? How does it get there? Put in place a framework explaining how content and interactions will work. Specify content management systems (CMS) features like metadata and content models based on the content strategy 
      4.       Manage
Carry out an evaluation- What worked? What didn’t? What could be done better? Thereafter create a style guide (like APA format but for content development) for tone, SEO, the linking and community policy.
Once you have developed your strategy and implemented it, connect it to social sites. It is humbling to note that the most important content on a site is not the organizations but the users’. It is the review from users that generates traffic and promotes social PR for organizations. Most people opt to read reviews about a product, service, initiative- whatever it may be- before engaging themselves. For this reason a platform for users to tell their stories is essential.
To fulfil users’ expectation of your online content and meet business objectives these details should be considered. Choose a tone that strengthens your brand image, keep language clear and to the point, and structure your content correctly to rank highly in search engines. Also use metadata effectively to create a richer user experience and give users a space to share their stories. All this combined makes for a solid and successful content strategy. 
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