Research, Research, Research: The Most Important Element of Content Strategy

When I first looked at the long list of deliverables that I would eventually need to complete for the content strategy of Making Music Magazine, I had no idea which element would take the longest, which element would be the hardest to find or complete, which elements would be easy or which elements were most important. There was so much information packed into 10 deliverables that I knew they’d all have importance and they would all take serious effort. There one most important thing I learned during this whole process was:

The more research you do, the better the overall content strategy will be.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as too much research. This is a lesson that every student hoping to pursue content strategy should be taught. But the most interesting thing about this project is that only two of the deliverables were researched-based, the quantitative audit and the analysis summary document. But I can honestly say that those two elements, mostly the analysis summary document, took up 80% of my time to complete. But good research makes my job easier.

The research I completed for this project was:

  • An interview with the client
  • A complete audit of the website and content
  • A complete audit of each social channel and their content
  • Monitoring online conversation around the brand using Sysomos
  • Monitoring competitor conversation and determining share of voice
  • Using Google Analytics for website insights
  • Using Facebook insights¬†for Facebook¬†data
  • Using Twitter analytics for Twitter insights
  • Demographic information searches

And I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things. But this research made the rest of the job so much easier, and this is a great lesson going forward while I pursue a career in content strategy. The more I research, the easier my job will be.

One of the biggest challenges of this project was that in order to develop a strong content strategy and really know what’s best for a brand and its content, you really need to be an expert on the topic being covered, the brand and even the industry as a whole. I was certainly not an expert on the music magazine industry and I had never heard of Making Music Magazine and time was extremely limited. So I became as much of an expert as I could possibly have become in that amount of time and I can name more music education social media influencers than I ever thought I’d be able to. But becoming an expert and doing that research isn’t just something that makes the job easier, it’s a requirement in completing the job.

The easiest part of developing a content strategy was connecting insights to strategy. Once the research was done, there was a lot of information in place and and not much sense could be made of it. But it was a lot like a puzzle, all the pieces were there but they had yet to be put together. I grabbed those pieces and aligned them in a way that made sense. One thing to always be sure of is that you’re always connecting a strategy to both an insight and an objective. If strategy isn’t based on an insight than it’s not going to accomplish an objective.

This process was eye opening and a great exercise on how to build a content strategy. But the most important thing to come out of it for me was the value of research. If I would have been light on my research, this would have been an entirely different, more difficult experience.

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