If you don’t have a professional blog or web site, you may think that you don’t need to worry about content strategy. Think again. Celine gave some great advice in her article “How to Develop a Content Strategy for Your Professional Blog,” but these days our blogs and web sites aren’t the only windows to our professional souls. If you use social media platforms for professional purposes, you should consider having a content strategy for the material you publish on them as well.
What is Content Strategy?
“Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.”
If you’re tweeting or updating on Facebook or elsewhere, you’ve got creation and publication of content down. But what about all the other keywords in that definition?
Developing a Content Strategy For Your Social Media Presence
Putting together a content strategy for your social media presence can be a real challenge, especially when you mix business with pleasure; my Facebook friends include relatives, old friends, new pals and purely professional contacts, some of whom I’ve never met personally. You can’t please all the people all the time when you have such a mixed audience, and the privacy settings are too global to adequately address this issue. (My only strategy for Facebook is not to publish things that are too personal. Content strategy is as much about what you shouldn’t publish as it is about what you should.)
But Twitter, for example, is a different story. It’s easy to have separate “personal” and “pro” Twitter accounts. And if you have a pro Twitter account, it’s also easy to apply a content strategy to it. The same is true of professional networks like LinkedIn.
Planning and Governance of Useful, Usable Content
Here are some ideas that might help you get started on a strategy:
- Planning: Define your mission (what you want to achieve with your content). Define your audience. Define what you want your content to do for your audience (inform, persuade, entertain). Define the nature of your content (what it should consist of and the tone of the content). Decide how often to produce it. Decide how you will interact with your audience.
- Governance: In this context, I interpret this to mean managing and monitoring your content and its impact, as well as your own role. Are you meeting your audience’s needs? What’s working and what’s not, and why? Is the quality of your content consistently high? Are you responsive and available?
- Useful and usable: Most of the blogs and Twitter accounts of small businesses I see need a content strategy. They tend to be too inwardly focused, all about their own updates and services (boring), or else they are too much about the owner/founder. These businesses generally need to figure out how to provide some real value to their audiences in order to keep them coming back and turn them into real fans, or even evangelists.
Here’s an example: I discovered a nice app the other day called Memory-Life. It’s a site where you can store media and other files in a virtual “box of memories.” (It’s still only available in French, but hopefully not for long. You can see a demo by clicking “Voir la démo.“)
It has a Twitter account, but it could be doing a lot more. Its audience is interested in preserving memories, so in addition to the occasional updates about upgrades and features, it could share links to articles about repairing old photos, or compressing large video files. It could provide creative suggestions, like “Upload pictures of all your grandmother’s jewelry to your box of memories” or “Create your own art gallery with Memory-Life.” It could suggest alternative uses for the app; designers could use it to create inspiration boards, for example.
If you want to connect with and engage an audience, your content has to provoke thought and action. You know you’re adding value if your content is being retweeted, liked and shared. It takes work, but it’s worth it.
You Too Could Be a Content Strategist!
Content strayegy is a relatively new career field. Large corporations are beginning to have in-house content strategists, but there is no reason why this job shouldn’t be done by consultants, which is where you come in. It could be an ideal occupation for a web worker.
If you’d like to learn ore about content strategy, in April, several chapters of the Society for Technical Communication are putting on “Content Strategy Forum 2010,” a two-day conference on content strategy in Paris. The conference is intended for:
“…anyone who develops, manages, or delivers content within their own organization or for their clients: user experience designers, information architects, business analysts, technical writers, web project managers, documentation managers, translators, web marketers, practicing content strategists, and those looking to break into the ﬁeld.”
Learn more about the conference program and register here (tickets are very affordable).
Here’s some additional recommended reading on content strategy:
- “Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data,” a great article by Rachel Lovinger
- There are several good articles on A List Apart about content strategy.
Have you implemented a content strategy for your social media presence?