What is a Content Strategist?

Content Strategy Specialist

A Content Strategist ensures that a business is creating the right content, publishing it at the right time, in the correct format and is promoting it in the appropriate places to reach, engage and convert customers. She will work to understand the overarching business goals and the customer motivations to produce content that will directly impact these goals.

This usually involves:

  • Lots of research (audience, persona, competitor, industry, SEO)
  • Content audits
  • User experience and information architecture
  • Data analytics deep-dives
  • Creating content plans, calendars and templates
  • Sourcing and developing content partnerships
  • Content writing and copywriting
  • Performance reviews and optimisations

Read on to learn more.


The Role of a Content Strategist

So, you what do you do, Kim?

If there’s one question I dread being asked when I meet new people, that’s the one. Not because I don’t like my job or am ashamed of what I do, but because 9 times out of 10, it requires an in-depth explanation. There’s rarely any head nods of recognition or approval, usually just plain faced confusion.

I’m a Content Strategist. But what the hoola-hoops does that mean? What is a Content Strategist?

In a world of ever-increasing entertainment choice and ever decreasing consumer attention, it means that marketers and agencies need to be smarter about how they communicate. It also means that in a time of constant information exchange and the need for instant gratification, clients are demanding transparency. They want to know what their marketing budgets are going towards and they want to see the results. In short – they want ROI.

So in one sentence, here’s what I, the elusive Content Strategist, do:

I work with clients to understand their business goals and user needs and advise them on the right kind of content to produce that will reach their target audience(s) where they are in a contextually relevant way so that their communication efforts produce measurable results.

OK, that was two long sentences but like… it’s my livelihood people!

Contextually relevant is important here too. This means hitting them at home, where they consume content already, in a helpful and unobtrusive way.

Always wanted to know what a Content Strategist is? @kimberlymicado's article explains it all.

Why is Content Strategy important?

In the past few years, many agencies and in-house marketing teams have realised that content is important. Yet they still may not be seeing the ROI of it, or seeing any success as a result of their efforts and a big part of this is down to a lack of or deviation from a content strategy. According to a recent report by the Content Marketing Advisory, strategy issues is the number one cause of stagnant content success.

Cutting back on content

Producing quality content is great, as is realising that constant publishing is necessary. But unless you have a framework that proves the need and performance metrics of that content, you’re flying blind. You don’t know if it’s working and you won’t know what to do to optimise it, you won’t know how to measure ROI and you won’t know how to plan for future content marketing efforts.

Here are some trends that prove the need for Content Strategy:

The Uncertain Future of Advertising

Starting with the most obvious, advertising is an ever-changing beast. What worked in the Mad Men era is not working now, for a number of reasons (post to come, stay tuned!). This means we marketers and agency people need to think about a consumer first campaign always. It’s no longer enough to blow million euro budgets on 30-second ads and online video – the client wants results and audiences want something that’s worth consuming and sharing. Something that’s gracing your efforts with their attention.

A recent report by Brightedge, which surveyed 252 digital marketers at B2B and B2C Fortune 500 brands, showed they overwhelmingly agree that Content, Organic and Search would be the most important initiative in 2017.

The Growing Importance of Diversifying Efforts

With the changing landscape brings the need to diversify agency efforts in order to make money. It’s always been the way – adapt or die. That’s why we see the traditional agency hiring model changing and the addition of new skill sets within them.

Transparency within the Industry and Agency/Client Relationships

I touched a bit on this earlier, but the one trend that I definitely don’t think will go away is the need for transparency. Clients want to see real results that they can prove to their stakeholders. And they are taking the time to understand, define and communicate their own metrics, which puts added pressure on agencies to meet them.

Clients want to see real results that they can prove to their stakeholders. And they are taking the time to understand, define and communicate their own metrics.

Consumer Habits; they are a-changing

Audiences are taking control of what they consume, whether we accept it or not. Fewer people than ever own a TV and watch regularly scheduled programmes and when they want to purchase something, they do it on their terms only.

When you want to buy a new laptop or book a holiday, what’s your first point of call? If you’re anything like the 1091 consumers surveyed by Hubspot, you go to Google. People are no longer listening to advertisers talk about their product benefits, they are actively researching themselves. And that’s why SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a must for advertisers to understand now. The Brightedge report mentioned earlier also found that 97 percent of its customers believe content marketing and SEO are now one single function.

Consumer behaviour - what is a content strategist

A little crash course on Content Marketing for good measure

You’ve probably gleaned by now that content marketing is more than a 1000 word blog post with a truckload of media spend behind it. Content marketing spans the written word (articles, blogs, sponsored content, and partnerships), video, podcasts, email marketing, social media and website building, and SEO.

Here’s a couple of definitions that are pretty spot on:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

 Content Marketing Institute

And even more simple from the good folks at the dictionary:

A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.

We have to create valuable content that people want to consume. Adapt or die. For reals. And THAT’S why a Content Strategist is now a thing.

Does your organisation follow a content strategy? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

And you might now be realising your business is in need of a content strategist, so let’s talk!

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