They are the same basic reasons people are interested in what you have to say in the real world. Content strategy is a term that has become popular in web development and user experience disciplines over the last several years, and the job of a content strategist is to plan, curate, and distribute interesting and shareworthy content. If you’re interested in learning more about content strategy and the disciplines within it, you might want to start here. For the purposes of this post, I’ll go over the reasons why good content strategy is based on positive real world interactions.
It Starts With a Personal Connection
Imagine you walk into a cafe full of strangers and state that you’re a professional golfer, then talk about your love of knitting all night every time someone tries to initiate conversation. You confuse people because your title doesn’t match your content. Also, you’re in a jazz cafe, so they weren’t looking for your type of interests in the first place. The venue for a conversation about knitting was incorrect.
Let’s look at a similar situation in a different way:
A museum curator has an artistic strategy to best choose the artwork for exhibits based on relevancy, placement, accessibility, and with a general goal of setting up content for the greatest engagement from museum-goers. The curator chooses which pieces to collect and display for an exhibit, and then promotes the exhibit with a meaningful title and description that generates interest, is easy to find and decipher, and gives a true picture of what visitors should expect to find at the museum. If all of this is done effectively, the exhibit is a success and both the museum director and visitors end up happy.
While content strategy can be applied to the offline world, the term is most commonly found in creating, editing, and publishing in order to drive engagement online. The goals of content strategy carry over to any business that is looking to provide an optimal experience for audience or customers online.
In the real world, you maybe have a different goal, such as being popular or interesting to your peers, but in business, a successful content strategy is one that achieves business goals while fulfillment of these five traits of likability in the most natural and organic way possible.
A successful content strategy always brings new insight to users. Your content must be valuable by educating or informing the audience on a deeper level. If you aren’t informative, or if your content is trite, redundant, or can be found easily elsewhere, your results and viewership will suffer.
Good content does not always have to be entertaining, but humans have an innate admiration for content that causes them to cringe, laugh, or cry. As shown by Daniel Tosh, content can be made more digestible if it’s entertaining and forms an emotional connection with an audience, even if on a very basic level. Users also tend to discuss and share content a lot more when it affects them on an emotional level. A successful content strategy should seek to produce and distribute content that is consistently shared by your audience, but that also can be shared easily.
Understanding what is appropriate, popular, or timely content for your target audience is another important hurdle to cross. An effective content strategy looks at all channels for distributing content and formats content to be channel specific. For example, although a video you produce may be relevant to your target market overall, think about how to modify content based on whether you’re distributing through your website, an on-demand video platform, or at a trade show. The time of day or the season can also play into your content strategy. A week early or a week late can make your content less relevant and make you look uninformed. As you work to push our timely content, look at performance and engagement based on analytical data, not common sense assumptions. Avoid shortening or simplifying your content too much based on your channel, when simplifying the user experience can be done instead. The last thing you want is to remove important parts of your content because you think users won’t want to take in so much information, on a mobile device, say, versus on their desktop computer. Drew Thomas makes a good case for this in his article about responsive design and keeping content accessible.
People like patterns. They want to find what they’re looking for, minus surprises. While it may seem that audiences yearn for a fresh approach, if you change too much or too often, user engagement will suffer from this sporadic inconsistency. This consistency pertains to your tone and voice as well. If you jump around too much and fall into a cycle of multiple personalities, your audience may find the content to be unpredictable and dizzying. A good content strategy lays out a repeatable system to govern content creation and publishing. That goes for frequency of messaging too. You want to stay in front of your audience as much as possible, without being an annoyance.
Tell your audience what you really think, and don’t be afraid to have an opinion or show personality. With web-based content, and especially blog content, don’t be afraid to open up and put a name, face, backstory, and context to your content. Before content strategy was an industry buzz term, and before Content Strategist was a common job title, Rachel Lovinger stated that unambiguous content is the starting point for good content strategy. This still holds true today.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared on the Brolik blog.