Content. We hear that word all the time. But think for a minute, what does ‘content’ mean to you?
The way we think about content has a profound effect on how we approach content-related problems – and how we solve them.
For some, content is a commodity to be packed, packaged, displayed and (we hope) consumed. If it’s a popular, desirable commodity, the value is reflected in an accumulation of views, likes, shares and comments.
The trouble with this perception though is that it gives content a passive role, not only in its relationship to users, but also to the organisations it’s supposed to serve.
A decade ago, this view prevailed. Websites were built with rigid, lifeless layouts that attempted to recreate print documents online.
Unfortunately, many organisations still treat their content this way.
A dynamic view of content
At Scroll’s last Content, Seriously meetup, Kate Thomas suggested a more dynamic view.
A long-time content strategist and former Head of Content at ORM London, Kate argues that content is better seen as energy – the vital, sizzling force that powers the page.
Some content is like kinetic energy – the short, snappy, vibrant, engaging material that crackles off the page.
Other content is more like potential energy, ready to unleash its potential at the click of a mouse. You can store up this kind of content on the site – it’s always fresh, relevant, and interesting to users.
Content should fizz and pop like electricity – but it does no good if left as a livewire, wasting its power and frying you and your clients in the process.
That’s where content strategy comes in.
Harnessing content energy for business benefits
If it’s going to work properly for you, you must harness the energy of your content. A good content strategist has the systems, processes and tools to do just that.
They can plan ahead, with a full understanding of the users’ needs, backed up with analysis of the data, and fit the plan to the organisation’s editorial calendars. They understand the systems, the governance structures, the content models and content plans.
They oversee the resources, whether human, financial or content-related; and they know how to utilise the technology, including software, hardware and hard copy, applying the right media and channels to the message.
Unlike colleagues such as copywriters, SEO experts, UX teams, content designers and so on, it’s the content strategist’s job to see the whole picture and make sure it all works together. Their goal is getting the right content, at the right time, to the right people.
In this way, the content strategist channels the power of content to support the client’s business goals.
The result is real-world benefits, not just a rack-up of shares, likes and retweets in the ether.
In one of Kate’s recent projects, for example, her client saw gains of £600,000 because of improvements she made through the content strategy.
Correctly harnessed, content is the current of a digital presence – a liquid and energetic force that powers effective responses to business and user needs.