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Where content meets technology

Feb 23, 2011

First Principles of Content Strategy

Every organization should have a good hard look at their content strategy and bring in help if they need it. However, doing any kind of content strategy work (using external or internal resources) is a waste of time without first establishing a solid foundation.

Your content strategy cannot succeed unless:

  1. You have information that a desirable audience wants

    In order to create content, you need information. In order to create content that your target audience wants to consume, you need to have information that is of interest to them. A steady stream of irrelevant press releases cannot be the basis for a good content strategy. Neither is a random Twitter stream of links and retweets. The good news is that any organization with customers (product purchasers, potential buyers, subscribers, members, etc.) probably has information that is of interest to them. The challenge is figuring out what that information is, which requires an understanding of the audience.

  2. The information you have is capable of driving desired behaviors

    While your audience may find it intriguing, simply airing your dirty laundry isn't very strategic. For every bit of information you publish, think about expected and desired reponses. If you work for a product company that has launched a new product, the content should contain information about who should buy the product and why. If you have no information that would compel a customer to buy your product (that is, your product stinks), there is really nothing worth saying and no content strategy can solve that problem. Lying is a not a good content strategy. If you have information about a defect in your product, the content you produce should support customer loyalty by resolving the issue. If publishing is your business, your content should establish your organization as the authority on this topic (and topics like it) so that the audience subscribes and/or returns.

I call these the "First Principles of Content Strategy." Any content strategy work should be grounded on these principles. If you hire a content strategy consultant or staff an internal resource, testing these assertions first will help you start off on the right direction and save time. If your answer to either of these assertions is "no," put that content strategy project on hold. You have more pressing issues to address.