The first thing you need to know about content strategy is that content is only the beginning.
Having the best content on the planet is great, but if your site is such a mess that visitors can't make sense of it or if they can't find it through a keyword search ... well, then, to put it bluntly, you're going to fail.
These issues - and more - all need to be factored into your content strategy.
Here are some things you should think about when developing a rough outline of a content strategy. Don't look at them as separate items on a punch list. They are all interrelated and the more integrated they are, the better off you will be.
The audience. If you're in business, you probably have a good idea of your target market, but do you know what they really want from you? What questions do they need answered? What information can help them succeed? Find these things out - along with how, when and where they consume content. It goes without saying that there's a lot more you need to learn, but here are a few things you should already know: Your audience isn't stupid. They don't want to be patronized or subjected to a hard sell. They know crap when they see it and they aren't afraid to tell their friends. They should never be underestimated.
The content. Once you have a handle on what your audience wants and needs, you're almost ready to start churning out content - blogs, whitepapers, podcasts and videos galore. Before that, though, you need to develop editorial guidelines that will give your content a consistent voice and an editorial calendar that will ensure you are providing fresh, timely relevant content on a regular schedule. Most importantly, you'll have to decide who will produce all this content.
The interface.What should your site look like? What image are you trying to convey? How can you make your site as intuitive and addictive as possible?
The feedback loop. You're talking to your audience, not at them. From the get-go, build in the tools that allow your audience to comment, share and build on the content you provide. Also, know that you must remain a part of the conversation at all times. If someone has a followup question to your blog, or just wants to bash it, engage them, don't ignore them.
The invisible stuff. Having smart, well-organized metadata helps users and search engines make the most of your content and helps you structure it in more complex and meaningful ways. This means identifying tags for your blog posts and videos, and writing proper keywords and descriptions in your page meta tags. All these things will improve your SEO, although without a steady stream of fresh, frequently linked to content, they can only take you so far (which is why it's called "content strategy" and not "SEO strategy.")
The CMS. What is the best content management technology to host, deliver and archive what you produce (right now and down the road)?
The channels. Yes, you're spending a lot of time (and money) to create a go-to corporate web site, but you know you also need a presence in social media. The thing is, don't let these goals operate at cross purposes.
The competition. What are the other folks doing? What tactics work for them that you may be able to emulate? Do they own a certain niche? Should you try to take them down, or look for other niches to own?
The measurement.Ah, yes, the measurement. Know what you want to measure and how you want to slice the data? Remember, the whole point of content is to help you gain followers, influence, trust and satisfied customers.Set benchmarks and define what success means to you before you begin.
Now, that's a big list, and it honestly only scratches the surface. But there is a lot of help and information out there - including companies like (insert shameless plug here) LyntonWeb - to help you work through it.
To be continued.
Image credit: Intersection Consulting