I wanted to write a big, long narrative introduction but - to be totally honest - I’m writing this at 8.30pm and inspiration is low.
So let’s just get to the question I’ve posed for myself shall we?
What makes a successful content strategy?
Here’s the thing.
You could type that into Google and get 100 different answers.
You could pick up Content Strategy for the Web and get a great answer.
But here’s what I don’t think any of them will say.
You’ve got to have an opinion.
Let me explain why.
After I tell you about a few other things you need to have in place first.
A strong core
In 'Content Strategy for the Web', Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach state that content strategy “plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.”
They introduce the idea of a core content strategy statement: a single sentence that helps all stakeholders maintain a singular focus in all content creation, editing and maintenance.
Your core should be actionable, measurable, flexible and also immediately understandable.
I like to call it your content North Star.
It should speak to your business mission, but not replace it.
If you’re wondering, mine is ‘to share ideas and stories that challenge the content status quo and unravel the content/process conundrum’.
It tells me which corner I’m fighting from.
The right flow
There are a few flows you need to keep in mind.
The flow of information
Are you giving people the information they need in the right order? What content pieces are you serving them and when? The order of information is just as important within a page and across a website as it is across all of your other channels. Which brings me to…
The flow of people
You’ve got a universe of platforms. How do you want people to move between them? How do you expect people to move between them? Because when you know that, you can be even smarter when it comes to repurposing. Which brings me to...
The flow of content
How does content move around your universe? Does it move in chunks, or is it just the theme? What do you produce first, second, third? Content flows help you do more with less.
They give you time to be creative.
And now, back to that opinion.
A point of view
You know how I said that my content mission helps me know which corner I’m fighting from?
It’s a powerful position to be in.
It gives everything more weight. It shows your audience what you stand for, and answers ‘why you?’ in a clear and compelling way.
Content may just be answers to user questions, but sometimes it’s hard to nail down exactly what those questions are. Especially in the early ‘getting to know you’ days.
They're often unconscious, and you answer them whether you mean to or not. Things like do I like you, do I respect you, do I trust you?
The best way to answer them?
Set your content mission and take a stance.
What do you see the people you work with doing that makes your heart sing?
What happens in your industry that makes your skin crawl?
What do you wish people would stop doing?
And what should they do more of?
What hill will you die on?
Where will you draw a line in the sand?
Even if your mission is to share balanced, unbiased resources - that’s a stance.
You see, when you have the right content processes in place, you know your purpose and you know that you’re sharing information in the right order - you can be more courageous with your words.