Knowing your content strategy from your content strategy

Content is everywhere – and there is more and more being added to the digital landfill every day. The increased interest in “content” has resulted in the use of the term content strategy to mean content calendars for editorial content planning (brand journalism/content marketing) and social media content plans. “Content Strategy”, in my book, is something different. Here I explain how the discipline of “Content Strategy” is distinct from a content strategy for content marketing or social media.

As the web has mushroomed with more and more pages of descriptive content on websites as time goes on, the discipline of “Content Strategy” has evolved. It is a way to untangle the web of content that exists online and offline in organisations. I first became aware of the emerging discipline of “Content Strategy” in 2011 having read Erin Kissane’s book The Elements of Content Strategy.

Without realising it I was already doing some content strategy in my work as a copywriter. On reading Kissane’s book I knew I wanted to be a content strategist when I grew up. Fast forward three years and I’ve started seeing the term content strategy pop up more online. Frequently when I click on a link people are talking about content strategy in a way I hadn’t expected. To many, content strategy is a loose term to describe:

  • an editorial content calendar planning for blogs/articles
  • social media post planning

That’s not the content strategy I know.

Content strategy explained

However, it’s completely understandable that people have linked terms like content marketing, digital strategy and social media strategy, and have used the combination of the words content and strategy to describe planning content marketing and social media content. “Content Strategy”, in my book, is something different.

There’s an industry built up around it with international conferences run annually by Confab and CS Forum. I have attended two dedicated content strategy conferences: CS Forum 2011 in London and Confab Europe 2014 in Barcelona. To explain what I understand as “Content Strategy”, I’m going to quote the US Government, which in turn quotes Kristina Halvorson. “Content strategy focuses on the planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content.

Content not only includes the words on the page but also the images and multimedia that are used. Ensuring that you have useful and usable content, that is well structured, and easily found is vital to improving the user experience of a website.”

Examples of different types of content

We’ll take The New York Times as an example of different types of content strategy because it has:

  • a corporate website which tells you all about the organisation (NYTco.com)
  • a website it publishes newsy/timely content on (nytimes.com)
  • a range of social media accounts

If you – yes you – in your role are focused on content marketing (the newsy content) and social media (what it posts and shares on social media) saw that The New York Times was embarking on a content strategy project you may assume it’s referring to its editorial content calendar, or its social media calendar. It would likely not. Mainly because journalism has its own language and content strategy isn’t what you’d use to describe how you plan out your news publishing schedule.

Getting to grips with the discipline called content strategy

A content strategy for a corporate is about the content that sits on that corporate site (or in brochures etc) separate to its editorial/content marketing or social media content. Doing a “Content Strategy” content strategy involves a lot of work in Excel, workshops with stakeholders and making a plan for that content. As the web is filled more and more with content “Content Strategy” is an area businesses need to turn to, in order to ensure that the content on their website meets customer needs and business objectives.

If you have your social media content strategy and content marketing content strategy in place, that’s all great. But what shape is the material on your website or elsewhere that your bringing your target audience to? This is where your “Content Strategy” content strategy comes into place. Maybe you’re doing it in-house without realising so (content governance).

This post first appeared on Congregation.ie as a blog ticket entry to #Cong14, a social media gathering.

So, you’re a freelancer?

341377_10151062153406417_1675557851_oFor my whole career I’ve been asked “are you a freelancer?” or “are you a freelance journalist?” when I mention my profession or what I do (write).

It seems that the word most commonly associated with the term journalist is freelancer. However, having completed the South East Enterprise Platform Programme (the predecessor to Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Programme), I was in “business” mode for a few years. I was kind of allergic to the word freelancer.

Trying to build a business. Trying to find an answer to that question “are you a freelancer?” by well-meaning inquisitive people without sounding uppity.

The distinction for me was my interpretation of freelancer and the connotations attached to it, a bit of a lone ranger working from home. I tried and succeeded in building a business; I’d registered business name, rented an office, commissioned a website, paid professional indemnity insurance, had PAYE staff, and worked with a panel of freelance writers, sub-editors and designers. I was caught up in the whole thing of trying to expand, to create jobs for other people, to build some sort of content empire.

Now, having jumped through all the hoops of hiring and firing and managing panels of freelancers, the focus is back on me. The focus is on selling my abilities ie writing, content strategy, journalism, and well thinking.

While I still have all the trappings of the business I built: good custom, an office, business name, website, social media accounts and the use of occasional freelancers, I’m parking the idea of world domination through this particular business. Hire me and you’ll get me. And in my spare time I’ll be researching the other technology business ideas I have that won’t go away. Maybe you’d like to be part of the research or a beta user.

And back to the word freelancer, it’s just bizarre in my opinion how hung up people are on connecting it to the word journalist. When I was a staff journalist I was asked it. You never ask a carpenter are you a freelancer… There could be worst things to be called I guess.

I have found an answer – I’m now ok with you wondering if I’m a freelancer. I’m not sure what you have in your own head about the word, but if you mean do I work for myself, yes, I do.

Drive traffic to your office with your contact page

Get your contact and location page right

How to increase productivity and save money by including useful information for visitors on your company website contact and location pages

Stop sign

If you think contact us or location pages might be the ones you think you can put the least effort into, it’s time to think again.

It is not a simple case of having your contact details and a map.

The people that visit these pages may need more than your office address or a map – depending on their own personal needs.

But…

People can phone for directions

You can save a lot of man hours on an annual basis by directing people to a link with lots of contact/location/travel and transport information. That’s less calls for everybody from reception to management.

We don’t want unannounced visitors

That’s okay, don’t include a map. You still have a legal requirement to include

  • the place of registration of the company and the number with which it is registered
  • the address of the registered office of the company

Include the wording “strictly by appointment only” on your website. Or invest in a buzzer and waiting area.

We have multiple entrances

This is your opportunity to increase productivity of meeting time and reduce confusion amongst visitors and people they are meeting.

Include public transport, parking and access details for all your entrances.

We are difficult to find

We’re hard to find, so give us a call when you arrive onto the street. Some people are better at reading directions than listening to them. Give them the opportunity to arrive on time without phoning.

Parking is tricky

Is there on-street parking? What’s the cost and what’s the limitations? Is there a company car park? Do visitor spaces need to be booked in advance? Is there a nearby car park with all-day rates? Helping people park can reduce stress, nevermind about clamping fees.

All visitors must sign in at reception

Are you a large corporation with tight security and a strict visitor sign in process? Include details on your website – if it takes 5 minutes to sign up and be issued with a visitor tag, say so, this may prompt people to arrive earlier and for meetings to begin on time.

Deliveries has a separate entrance

Give them details about this entrance then.

Overload

Too much to think about? Here’s a simply way of making a start on a decent contact/location page:

  • Who would want to know where you are?
  • What do they know?
  • What verbal directions do people generally have to give on the phone or in an email?

Postbox and outside of office hours deliveries

Is there anywhere to leave a package outside of office hours?

No? You could have saved me a two-hour journey if you had those details on your website.

Easy assumptions to make

Everybody has a smart phone

Not everybody has a smart phone. Some people will forget theirs, or the battery will die.

Everybody has 3G/4G/mobile internet coverage in this area

There is a specific area of Wexford town I cannot get 3G coverage in with my phone provider

Everybody has Google Maps

Lots of people never think to get to a place on foot or by car

Everybody has a good sense of direction

North, south, east, west. Seriously, many people have no concept. And as for to the left or right. Make sure you include indicators such as your left and their right. E.g. with your back to Spar, we are to the left or facing Spar, we are to the right.

Your Google Maps location is correct

Check it is correct – or indeed that you do have a presence on various online maps.

Everybody is driving from the same place

You know that driving from Dublin paragraph? Not everybody driving from Dublin may realise they are on the main road from Dublin to your office, if they joined the motorway enroute or travelled cross country. Mention the main road/motorway name here to help.

How does your contact us/location page size up for your business?