3 Essential Elements of Effective Content Strategies

A successful content strategy has ‘core content’ at its center, with substance/structure accounting for additional ‘content components’ and workflow/governance accounting for ‘people components,’ says Kristina Halvorson, founder and CEO of content strategy firm Brain Traffic, and author of “Content Strategy for the Web.”

Halvorson joined four others on a SXSW panel entitled “Rude Awakening: Content Strategy Is Super Hard.”

“Once we begin to make those connections, we begin to see that content is more than what it is. It’s more than the product. It’s a process that goes right to the heart of our organizations,” says Halvorson.

Content strategy spans user interface design, marketing materials, internal communications, technical documentation and more.

People working in these different fields, often with different technologies, need to learn from each other in order to create the best pathways to a content strategy, said Erin Kissane, content and editor at Brain Traffic, and author of “The Elements of Content Strategy.”

The panel — which also included Mark McCormick, senior vice-president-customer experience at Wells Fargo, Karen McGrane, a managing partner Managing Partner at Bond Art+Science, and Joe Gollner, a director at content technology firm Gnostyx Research — tackled the following talking points, which touched on three essential elements of content strategy: planning, context and metadata.

1. Content strategy is just content planning.

Content strategy needs to be built on top of your communication strategy and other existing business strategy definitions. This can be a scary prospect if such definitions don’t already exist — but content strategy naturally leads into solving that issue. Content strategy impacts all of customer service interactions.

Content strategists need to be assertive and learn other disciplines to be able to apply content strategy to their teams.

2. Context first!

On the web, we create templates and buckets that we dump content into. This needs to stop.

There’s a lot of opportunity with mobile and responsive web design. Content strategists need to take the lead on the subject.

Content drives form. Not the other way around. Mediums are delivery devices.

3. We need to teach writers about metadata.

Content needs to be flexible and fluid across a variety of devices and in different contexts. People need to think about creating flexible content for future reuse.

People need to make the mental leap from webpage constraints to flexible content. We’re not writing documents anymore. We’re writing packages of content and ideas that can work across channels and devices. We’re not just writing. It’s video content, user-generated content, syndicated content. Meta data is one of many tools to wrap our heads around.

Image courtesy of Flickr, librarianinblack

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