Content strategy hasn’t been in the public lexicon for long. In 2008, Kristina Halvorson penned the seminal article, The Discipline of Content Strategy. Two years later, just 763 people on LinkedIn had “content strategist” as their job title. Today a search yields over 360 thousand results. It’s apparent that content strategy is an accepted part of a business in the twenty-first century. But has it become a business buzzword, like Bizmeth (business method)?
Content Strategy has made progress but still has a ways to go. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 71 percent of business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations report having a content strategy, yet only one in three has a formal plan and just 41 percent of business-to-business (B2B) companies have one. Most organizations acknowledge the importance of content strategy but don’t have a formal plan, which raises the question, why?
With the spread of smartphones and social media, it is staggering to consider that organizations don’t feel compelled to create a formal content strategy. In the time since Halvorson’s article was published, more people use their phones to surf the Web than ever, and social media use has steadily grown.
- In 2010, 83 percent of Americans had cell phones or smartphones. By 2019, ownership had increased to 96 percent.
- In 2010, 35 percent of Americans reported to have accessed the internet on their phones. By 2019, 37 percent reported that they mostly used their smartphones to access the internet.
- In 2010, eight percent of American adults used Twitter. Today the number is twenty-two percent.
Understandably, organizations feel compelled to produce as much content as possible to keep up with the public’s insatiable appetite for it. But as much as 70 percent of branded content is not consumed. Is it a coincidence that 71 percent of businesses have an informal content strategy, and 70 percent of branded content isn’t consumed? There’s a disconnect somewhere.
In my experience working on an audience development team, people confuse a content strategy with an editorial calendar. This type of thinking discounts the impact of a thoughtful content strategy. Rahel Bailie, the coauthor of The Language of Content Strategy, provides a detailed explanation: “Content strategy deals with the planning aspects of managing content throughout its life cycle, and includes aligning content to business goals, analysis, and modeling, and influences the development, production, presentation, evaluation, measurement, and sunsetting of content, including governance” (Banner, 2017).
Content strategy can be simplified into two principles (Leibtag, 2013):
- Useful and usable – useful content aligns with an organization’s goals and helps users accomplished their goals.
- Repeatable system – create a reusable workflow, so content is created and managed the same way each time. Think of it as following a favorite recipe.
Managing content is difficult, which is the genesis for content strategy. It fills a void. It’s worth the effort—69 percent of the most successful B2B businesses have a documented content strategy. Without doing the necessary research and considering a content strategy, organizations will continue to struggle to achieve their content goals. Here’s hoping more companies embrace a formal content strategy in the new decade.
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