How do you define content strategy? Do a Google search on content strategy and the results are dominated with web content strategy approaches -- from user design, interface, workflow and then yes -- even content. As we’ve entered a new era of content, it’s much more than web content management. It’s all encompassing for every company or government organization -- no matter what size. A strategy looks at how to apply content as a critical business asset to achieve business goals.

What Does Content Strategy Mean to You

Welcome to the Content era. It’s here, it’s now and it’s changed the game. Stemming from the rise of data during the Y2K scare, to the subsequent explosion of information that followed, we’ve drowned in data, been overwhelmed with information and now face a new realm that’s been characterized as Content Chaos. (AIIM, 2010). Regaining and establishing order requires a Content Strategy. Let me ask you first, what does ‘content strategy’ mean to you?

  1. Isn’t that what marketing does when they print brochures?
  2. It is the creation, delivery and disposition of web content.
  3. SharePoint
  4. It is the creation, publishing, distribution and governance of content in support of corporate goals.

Wikipedia defines ‘Content Strategy’ as, “the practice of planning for content creation, delivery, and governance” in the context of being "a repeatable system that defines the entire editorial content development process for a website development project."

While this served well for Web Content Management, the definition is too myopic for the new content-driven paradigm. Content is pervasive and proliferating throughout every functional group across a company or government organization and extending beyond the firewall to partners and customers. Meanwhile the unrelenting volume of user-generated content, rich media and social objects compounds daily as the tribes, crowds, communities and countless (millions!) of internet users continuously create, collaborate, publish, distribute, access, stream, download and view content online -- and now on their mobile device.

Applying a Content Strategy

Web content management is a valuable discipline and requires a content strategy. So does email, contracts, invoices, documents, presentations, spreadsheets, engineering diagrams -- even Twitter and Facebook accounts. However, managing content is very different than applying content. Managing content can help bring order to content chaos; you may even reduce costs, meet compliance regulations and generate efficiencies from process automation and knowledge-sharing.

Applying a Content Strategy not only brings order to content chaos, it prescriptively orchestrates through the clutter to realize new sources of value. For that reason, the best answer above that defines Content Strategy is ‘D’

How do you apply a content strategy against corporate goals? Therein lays the conundrum. Here are a few examples that illustrate the risk of not applying and the potential rewards:

Scenario Conundrum Recommendation Validation
Do I need a mobile app for that?  Content Strategy includes ECM and WCM and now mobile content and mobile content management completes the trinity. The content strategy supports the business objectives. If revenue is a top priority then monetizing content via mobile applications might be the focus. Mobile content revenues will grow from $1.15 billion in 2009 to more than $3.53 billion in 2014 (eMarketer)

NBC Olympics Mobile platforms (Mobile Web Site and iTunes App), amassed 87.1 million page views during the 17 days of the Vancouver Winter Olympics (NBC 01/03/10)
Who stole my brand? User-generated content, micro-blogging and viral distribution has shift the balance of power from the Establishment to end-user Embrace the users – and gain their support. Ignoring them won’t make it go away. Parody BP Twitter site usurped the official BP page in less than a week. BP, an enterprise conglomerate, applied a full court PR press and tweeted over 2,000 times to amass 18,632 Twitter followers.

The parody accrued 190,206 with less than 500 tweets.
Hell hath no furry…. Instant and viral distribution of content or social objects: Word of Mouth rules. A poor experience, delayed response won't encourage customers to say nice things. A content strategy is more than monetizing assets. The experience is equally important to ensure a repeat customer. And one that tells their friends, and their friends…. According to a survey of US mom Internet users, Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted- nearly 12 times more- than descriptions that come from manufacturers, (eMarketer, February 2010).

Content is a Valuable Asset

Organizations spend millions on data and information management infrastructure, systems and technology. They invest millions in storage, security, business intelligence and other applications to reduce risk, be compliant and analyze corporate performance. Sadly, in their efforts to achieve business goals: reducing costs, improving operational efficiencies and uncovering new sources of value, they fail to apply one of their most valuable assets: content.

The Content era is a new world with new rules and a new realm of players. To prosper, you need a game plan -- a content strategy, and it must align with business goals. Sitting on the sidelines isn’t being cautious; it’s conceding to the market, your customers, your competition. A prescriptive and pragmatic content strategy will help navigate this new world and support value creation.

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