Content strategist – cornerstone part of content marketing
There are quite a few key people (and many more roles) to deliver an awesome results in content marketing. In traditional and offline media Editor plays a key role in content production. For web based projects a content distribution add up a big deal to the whole process.
If you take a look particularly at what our content marketing agency does it becomes obvious that none of our staff professionals are editors in the traditional sense of this word.
Let’s have a closer look at this cornerstone role in content production.
What content strategist does
In simple words content strategist is a specialist who develops a strategy of website promotion via content marketing.
Initial research: studying the project
First, researching the subject of the project.
- What content would be relevant to target audience at different decision making stages (aka marketing funnel) and how to cater it to the target audience in the most effective way.
- Does a competitors research to collect best practices and first draft of topics
- Often overlooked part is to dig into what needs to be improved in existing content (if there is any)
- Interview the client’s team (even for in house there are fairly standard stakeholder roles)
May last quite a while. At the same time, a strategist should always be ready to adjust to the volatile nature of search traffic and the market in general.
Content plan outline & validation
In GRIN tech we use the following methodology: content can be divided in
- has potential to rank in Google. Such content created for owned media (e.g. website \ blog)
- has not clear potential to rank, but topic is interesting for auditory. Such content we syndicate via partners to get an exposure and build a link profile
Note: in 9 out of 10 posts on content marketing you’ll see importance of scheduling publications. It’s consistency that is important, not equal interval of time.
Content production fulfilment
After working through previous stages a content strategist gets most clear vision of content marketing ideology for a given project. That is why he is the one ensuring execution.
Selection of authors
Modern web is much beyond pure texts – there are audio, video, coding, visuals to delight users’ perception. Still texts are blood cells of the Internet and most content will be built around it.
The problem is that marketers suck at writing and writers suck at marketing (an so on for every niche apart from on writing itself. What an irony)
A strategist must be aware this problem and have means to solve it (there are quite a few). A content strategist must be able to work on the article as an editor, but approach it from the reader’s point of view.
How content strategist delivers
work manage a team. Methods of work can be (on the example of our web agency):
- A weekly briefs with an account manager and an SEO specialist of the project. This is where they discuss work plans for the week. To get a full picture, one needs to know what search requests you need to correct and improve. In order for the website to host expert level content, a content strategy should be developed in coordination with the project’s account management. You need to receive information from the first hand — from clients. It often breaks a tidy content plan created for months in advance, but adjusting the plan and making actual changes to it is an integral part of the work.
- Daily planning with copywriters. There was case when a client’s competitor did a sponsored publication on its’s product advantages in industry leading media. As it also supports posts from users we rushed a client to write a “comment” and interlinked it from competitor’s promo comments. Two month later a company (700 people big) was searching for solution and ended up on our hijacked publication and closed a deal.
What content strategist delivers
Some say it is quality content and it is true. But at GRIN tech we believe in metrics and hard numbers even more:
What is quality content anyway?
What is informative? In context of content marketing: more useful information, less characters. If something can be taken out of the text without hurting the message, it should be.
Do not hope to attract user attention if your text is useless and uninformative. No amount of metaphors or striking pictures will help you. Only information is of value: facts, figures, statistics, tables, graphs, video content or any type of visual highlights. On the web, a person gets to the site by means of a request. This person is interested in information. In order for the public to be interested in the text, it should contain an expert opinion.
However, informativeness should not be understood only as facts in a mathematical degree of truthfulness.
In a text you have, one way or another, to prove your point to a reader. And bare facts are not enough to persuade anyone you’re right. The basis of your text should be facts and a display of expertise. An appropriate style of expression is also appreciated. And here you can work everything: from bits of humor to memorable catch phrases or details. You need a reader to believe you.
One of the major problems of many modern web editors (who are not content strategists yet) is incorrect work process with authors. Often due to the abundance of work they prefer “flat”, faceless authors, who do not stand out stylistically, but write without mistakes. Editors often do not have time to send the text back for reworking and provide the author with details on what the text is missing and how to polish it. Instead, they prefer those who give a good number of quite literate but “typical” content. Do not fall into this trap. It’s a dead end. With an approach like this, there will be a lot of content, but there will also be a lack of real quality.
The only thing to do is to organize your work in such a way that there is always extra time on your clock to solve all issues. You need to spend an hour or two a day to work with authors. This is one of the main aspects of your content marketing strategy. You need to speak with authors in the same language, explain what you want from them and how to do it better. Right, the perfect option would be a writing content strategist (the easiest way to convince the author of doing something specific is to write a paragraph of the text in the same way you would like to see it). You will eventually understand that this is not a waste of time, but a great investment in the well-being of the project.
So, the quality is not only about the desire to fill the website with good texts. It is a whole set of measures: planning, cooperation with authors and experts, selection of images and more subtle things like concept creation for video content. But the most crucial thing is work planning and time management. It is impossible to keep the constant level of quality without effective tools to achieve it. And content strategist in some sense becomes such tool.
To sum it up on Content strategist role
A content strategist seems to be a kind of a super hero. In some sense, a content strategist is a project manager, an SEO assistant, an editor, and even a copywriter. All at the same time. Still a content strategist rests above all of those in the hierarchy. However, despite a somewhat negative perception of someone being a super hero — it is believed that you can understand many things at once only if you don’t dig deep — a content strategist really is a solution architect but in content marketing.
The diversity of knowledge should be paired with the depth of understanding. This is literally a unique expert, who has been created by the demand of modern business reality. And the deeper this expert is involved in all aspects of content creation, the more solid your content-based strategy will be.