Content marketing remains one of the most buzzed about marketing methods in business today, this despite the throng of pundits declaring that its time may have already passed. (Don’t forget that these same self-proclaimed “experts” said the same thing about email marketing more than a decade ago: “Email Marketing Is Dead!”)
Because the phrase “content marketing” has become the catch-all for virtually all types of marketing efforts, the number of professionals identifying themselves as some form of content marketer has risen dramatically over the past few years.
The good news is that everyone with “content” in their title is an expert in SEO, and Google Analytics, and Mailchimp, and Marketo, and Buffer, and Hootsuite, and BuzzSumo, and hub and spoke, and channel matrices, and BingoBongo, and content strategy, right? Guys? Right?
(BingoBongo isn’t real; it’s a joke, so don’t fire up the ol’ Google machine and search for a fabulous new content marketing tool called BingoBongo and expect it to be your content magic bullet. We just wanted to make sure you were paying attention…)
First of all, many of us—even some really, really good content marketers and content strategists—aren’t experts in all these tools, platforms and approaches. In fact, how many of you reading this are “Google Analytics Certified” but still find yourself occasionally confused while clicking around deep inside the tool’s inner workings? It’s ok to admit it; you’re in good company.
Content Strategy Means Different Things to Different People
As far as “content strategy” goes, if you were to walk into a room of 100 professionals, all with the word “content” in their title, odds are you’d hear 100 different definitions of “content strategy.” And each professional would insist that theirs is the only right answer.
The truth is, “content strategy” means different things to different people and organizations, and it’s often used interchangeably with “content marketing” and “content marketing strategy.” (As our friends at the Content Marketing Institute point out, “the lines are somewhat blurry.”) Your own definition of “content strategy” will largely depend on your organization, your industry, and your goals. But there is one universal truth: it doesn’t have to be complicated.
How I Think About Content Strategy
As we said, there are as many definitions of “content strategy” as you can imagine, as a quick Google search of the phrase confirms: one billion six hundred sixty million results.
One of our favorite definitions/descriptions comes from the experts at Moz:
Content strategy concerns itself with the vision—the ins and outs of how and why your content will be created, managed, and eventually archived or updated. It looks at all of the content your customers ever encounter. It overlaps with content marketing…but they are not the same thing.
And another comes from the Content Marketing Institute, where “content strategy” is defined as…
“…(in Kristina Halvorson’s words) ‘the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.’”
And “content marketing strategy” is defined as:
“…your ‘why.’ Why you are creating content, who you are helping, and how you will help them in a way no one else can.”
Our opinion? We think each of these definitions is correct. But we’d combine them all and simplify them a bit.
To us, “content strategy” is articulating and documenting:
- Why you’re creating content (why your organization is publishing and why your audience will care)
- Who you’re creating it for (persona research)
- What form it will take (blog posts, social media posts, videos, infographics, etc.)
- Where it will be published (various social media platforms, your organization’s blog, print publications, etc.)
- When and how often you’ll publish it (content publication calendar)
- How you’ll measure its success (Key Performance Indicators)
- How you’ll create and tailor future content to continually improve your content marketing performance (revisiting KPIs, keeping an eye on trends and news, and getting creative!)
For our purposes, that’s close enough for rock and roll.
For you and your organization, that list of questions might look different. But as long as you’re seeing success and continual improvement, don’t stress over whether your definition of “content strategy” or methods are “correct” according to anyone else.
As long as it’s working, you do you!