So Many Elements, So Little Time

Who would have thought a few weeks ago that I’d have any idea about content strategy? On top of that, I had absolutely no clue how many facets there were to it. This blog will concentrate on some of the people behind the scenes of content strategy and their individual roles in making it all happen.

So much of what we do is group work and it can be challenging at times. The folks I’ve listed below all need to collaborate and work well together but unlike some other industries, they have incredibly small amounts of time to produce and execute their work.

  • User Experience
  • Design
  • Information Architecture
  • Copywriting
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Marketing
  • Business stakeholders

User Experience

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This work is so freaking cool. Mostly it’s research to figure out people’s behaviors and motivation. User-Centered Design is what drives this research. It ranges from basic interviews and surveys to first click testing and prototypes. This type work can be very impactful on design and content based on the results.

Design

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The design for your project is incredibly important and giving the designer a clear understanding of what the vision is for the project is the key. The designer needs to know the who/why/what/when/how in order to produce that integral piece of the puzzle.

Information Architecture

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Information Architecture provides the backbone to the project. It gives the project structure and form that no other piece can do but of course they all need to intersect to truly come to life. Seems to me that IA needs to use the user experience data to create a highly functioning product.

Copywriting

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So it’s probably horrible to admit that I didn’t even know exactly what a copywriter did until earlier today? Well, there, I admitted it. So the learning outcomes for this blog is now I know, woo hoo! Copywriting is the execution of ideas; content strategy is their organization and measurement. Seems like these jobs can blend together at times but also need to be separate to have great success.

Search Engine Optimization

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So I didn’t have time to read everything out there on SEO and I’m getting the feeling like there could be a whole college degree created around the topic.  SEO is all about hits and visibility.  How many people can you get to your product.  It’s just like in the old days when companies would try tricks like AAAAAA Moving Company just so they would be the first listing in the ole phone book.

Marketing

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The marketing piece to the puzzle is there to support the content and to push it out there for all to see.  Content is always most important but if it’s not marketed well, you’re sunk!

Overall, each area needs a strong team or at least one person’s focus to be successful.  I can’t see where you can cut out any of these areas at all.  What kills me is how I didn’t know anything about all these huge fields that are out there until I started this class.

 

Publishing is Hard: Make it Easier on Yourself

You’ve thrown yourself into the exciting industry of content marketing and social media. Hooray! But wait, that means you’re also now a publisher since publishing content is a big part of your new daily responsibilities. And here’s a secret for you—if you didn’t realize it yet, you soon will.

Publishing is hard.

Consistently creating quality, effective content takes a whole lot of work. And this work certainly doesn’t end after you click ‘publish.’ But no worries, it’s time to make it easier on yourself—starting now.

Content Creation

Keeping up with your content creation needs is tough. Photo: Dawolf, Flickr CC

Plan, Then Plan Some More

The more time spent on creating a cohesive content strategy for your web content in the beginning, the easier the entire process will be for you. Don’t forget to include the following elements into your planning. This is, by no means, an exhaustive list but is an excellent way to get started. Be sure to write all this down into a content strategy guide for yourself, as you’ll want to refer to it regularly!

  • Messaging
  • Brand tone and voice
  • Target audience and personas
  • Keywords
  • Distribution channels
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Metadata

Create an Editorial Workflow for You and Your Team

Now that you’ve got a pretty good sense of what your content will be about, who it’s for, and how you’re going to get it to them, it’s time to create some procedures, policies, and a workflow. This will help you to gain momentum and keep up with the complexities of frequently publishing content.

Developing an editorial calendar (Contently has an incredible guide to creating one), a customized content management system (CMS), and your newly developed content strategy guide is going to be what sets you apart from everyone else.

An editorial calendar will keep you and your team focused on creating the right content, for the right people, at the right time. And a CMS customized with page and post templates for your specific needs is a tool that will keep you and your team publishing efficiently. Margot Bloomstein, author of Content Strategy at Work, says it best. “Above all, make it easy for your internal users to produce, publish, and manage great content.”

Kanban Wall For Content

A workflow strategy will get you and your team regularly producing content. Photo: DeanoPower, Flickr CC

Don’t Publish Your Content in Just One Place

Most organizations don’t need to create content for only one channel; that’d be too easy. They have to share their content across several platforms in order to effectively reach their audience. If this is you (and I’m sure it is) make sure you’re not publishing your content in just one place. Instead, take your topic for a blog post and rework it to fit across other appropriate channels as well.

Can that blog post work well on the main website? Should it be a microsite? Or what about a digital magazine, email newsletter, podcast, video series, webinar, ebook, or infographic? And don’t forget about your social channels! You’ll be surprised how much additional content you can create when you’re thinking creatively about its form. Fortunately, Hubspot has lots of ideas for not letting your content go to waste, which is definitely worth checking out.

Like I said, publishing is hard. But the above strategies to plan a cohesive content strategy and develop a workflow will surely help you to create content more regularly and efficiently.

Do you have any strategies to add? What helps make your life as a content manager oh-so-much easier?

4 Steps to a Killer Blog Post

4 Steps to a Killer Blog Post

You’ve got this awesome idea for a blog post, right? Now all you have to do is write and publish the post then you’re going to get thousands of views and incredible engagement. Man, I wish it was that easy.

Actually, there’s quite a bit that goes into a blog post and it’s not just about the writing. It all revolves around having an excellent content strategy.

 

1. Develop Your Organization’s Content Strategy

First thing first. You need to make sure your content strategy for your organization, company, or personal blog is good to go. According to Margot Bloomstein, “content strategy is the practice of planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content” (2012). Oh, and while developing your strategy, make sure you’re addressing the following:

  • Creation: What will it consist of? Why? Where will it come from? Who will be in charge?
  • Delivery: Where will your new content go? How are you going to post and share this with your users?
  • Governance: How are you going to update your content and keep it fresh? How are you going to evaluate its effectiveness?

2. Design Your Website to be Easy on the Eyes

The best content you’ve ever created is worthless if no one spends time on your site. So make sure your website is easy on the eyes and easily navigable. A mess of unrelated advertising, too many colors, and too many links (just to name a few) can easily distract the reader and get him or her lost within your site. When that happens they’re going to quickly click away. And no one wants that.

Great Blog Web Design

Keep it clean and easily navigable to keep your readers interested.

3. Write an Easily Scannable, Highly Engaging Blog Post

Yes, a well-written blog post is still critical for success. This is going to be what keeps your readers coming back for more. When writing a post, keep these ideas in mind:

  • Keep it short and scannable. Because we’re all short on time.
  • Mix up your content a bit. Words are awesome, but don’t forget about video, photos, graphics, polls, podcasts and more.
  • Keep it engaging. Pose a question or call-to-action (CTA) at the end of your post.

4. Follow-Up With Your Blog Post

Lastly, your new piece of content that you just published needs a bit of help to push it over the top. The proper distribution, search engine optimization (SEO), and following up with some analytics will ensure that you’re getting the most out of your posts. Come back to your content regularly and actively engage with those who post comments on the article and your social profiles. You can also refurbish any of your content that isn’t time sensitive. If that lengthy article you posted 6 months ago can easily be turned into a sweet graphic or video that can easily be consumed and shared, why wouldn’t you do it?

Share Blog Post on Social Networks

Great content will want be shared—make it easy for the user to do.

This will surely get you on your way to writing a killer blog post. Each of the 4 steps must all work together and none can stand alone. Start by focusing on your content strategy and when in doubt, always refer back to it. This will help to ensure you’re creating useful and usable content for your users that’ll stand out among the rest.

Think you have it down? What other steps do you take to create a killer blog post?