“What do you think makes a good content strategist?”
This is the kind of question that used to make me tense—full-body, tingle tense. I used to stumble trying to come up with an answer, using words like “user-centered” and “structured creativity.” But all of the definitions failed me. After a while I realized, that being a great content strategist either meant a million things or likely just one.
Great content strategists are great listeners.
This is my current working definition of the work that I do. At Converge, whether we’re working with Emory’s Goizueta School of Business on redefining their digital presence or helping Columbia College Chicago Online connect with a new audience of e-learners, our conversations start with asking every question, until we hit on the right one.
Then we listen.
We listen to clients, to data, to audiences, to research, to competitors, to designers and developers and everyone else, all in pursuit of the information that will spark our strategy.
Listening—figuring out what the problem is, where the gaps are and how we get to the next step is the foundation of any good strategy. It is even more critical for content strategy. Ours is not a prescriptive skill set, but rather a commitment to building in flexibility into content development and accounting for ambiguity in how content is understood across your digital presence.
This is particularly key for storytellers, the people who figure out how to shape and bend narratives across channels to connect with higher-level business goals. For a while, there was a content marketing wave—pushing us to generate more content, faster and for increasingly segmented audiences.
“You need content marketing right now!” the internet shouted.
“Content marketing is the future!” it implored.
“Don’t ask about results,” it begged.
Most of us were left with heaps of generic listicles that didn’t reflect our institutions or communities. And tying success metrics to our strategies? Well, that wasn’t really even a part of the conversation.
The verdict? Storytelling needs a new model. One that accounts for cyclical planning, production and promotion of content. Here’s my best shot at a modern model for storytelling:
Listen : Ask questions, observe and analyze the information you gather to develop a sound strategy that is aligned with your business goals.
Empathize: Connect with your audience and your internal stakeholders to find the stories that will break through the digital noise with a clear narrative and engaging voice.
Execute: Design your dream team and develop a workflow that allows you to continuously develop content on time and on budget.
Repeat: Measure your success, repurpose content and refine your storytelling to capitalize on wins.
The above is just the start. Over the next several weeks our talented Content Strategy team here at Converge will weigh in on all of the areas above citing real case studies from exceptional colleges and universities. Check back in to learn more or, get your start with Content Strategy basics.