Well, it's that fun time of year again, where crystal balls are dusted off, and gazing into the future is fun for all. Content Strategy came of infancy in the later parts of the last decade (eek -- it is the 10's) and really rose to hot prominence this year. So, what's my take on what'll be hot topics for content strategists and their clients next year?


It's the future -- and it's here. Content strategists can expect many clients to anticipate what the changing mobile market will look like, and how they can align their content strategy to their mobile business strategy. Most important thing to remember? Content is still content, and should speak to a company's business goals.

So don't start delivering texts to your customers' mobile devices about the weather if you’re a sneaker company. Instead, think of promoting running campaigns, mobile apps that can measure miles covered and weekly texts updating customers on their progress. Always think valuable, shareable and engaging content, particularly for mobile.

Semantic Web

Here’s a basic description of the Semantic Web: Imagine if you want to go to an outdoor ball game, but you want to know what the weather is, where they sell the hot dogs, how much the parking is, and which teams are playing and where their next five games will be played. Imagine if you could see that all in one place, avoiding the hassle of jumping to five different websites? You could, if all those details existed as data that one system could read.

The goal of the semantic Web is to categorize all of the Web’s metadata in uniform language and tagging, so that all the information is filed into the world’s largest database. Think of it as a universal, global, digital, filing system -- with every tagger using the same universe of labels. It’s a pretty cool concept, and it’s going to continue to be a hot topic, as tagging becomes critical for shareable content.

Trackable Content

I’m not exactly sure how this is going to look, but as organizations keep looking for a way to make money off content, trackable content is going to become important. Notice how things become viral, but you never really know where and who started the initial content spread?

What if there was a trackable system for content that attaches to the piece of content itself and not in a ranking website, like Digg, Twitter or even Facebook? The origination and chain would be present in the content itself -- perhaps embedded on the bottom or present in the backend code. You would be able to track the influencers and spreaders of content -- critical to figuring out how best to maximize your content’s viralbility.

Social Media Content Strategy

Anytime anyone tries to pronounce my name, I always say, “It’s pronounced exactly the way it is spelled.” So too, social media content strategy means simply, having a content strategy for your social media campaigns. Is it possible for an organization to have a different content strategy than their social media content strategy? Absolutely.

Let’s say you’re a huge financial firm and you serve four or five audiences. One of them is the 21-30 year olds who are beginning to think about investing and saving money, and another audience is in their late seventies. Probably the older generation isn’t using social media. You’re going to have to reach them using more traditional marketing strategies. But, your younger audience is going to be interested in slices of your content. Deciding which content to promote to them, and how best to deliver that content, while still serving your business goals, is where a social media content strategy will come in to play.

Technical Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing

I’m going to write more about this in the coming weeks, but I see an interesting trend in the world of content strategy. It seems there are the “technical content strategists”: the professionals who are thinking about meta-data, Content Management Systems, character limits, XML and RDFs.

There are also “marketing content strategists”, who are focused on creating relevant content to reinforce and promote branding. These marketing content strategists are thinking about things like writing and delivering great content, creating a content strategy that aligns with personas, running great content campaigns, editorial guidelines and publishing calendars. Will those left-side/right-side brain professionals converge into one superhuman content strategist?

What do all these ideas have in common? They circulate around a major theme: What does it take to deliver great, relevant, engaging content in the world of Web 2.0? Stay tuned for more on content strategy in 2011.

On a more personal note, thanks for your readership and support by consistently sharing content. I’d be fascinated to hear if you agree or disagree about what the future looks like. If you do, be sure to send me the name of the shop you picked up your crystal ball -- I could use another one.