How we got to content strategy today
When the concept of writing was conceived (circa 3400 BC), it took thousands of years until Gutenberg invented movable type (circa 1450). A couple hundred years more came modern newspaper publishing, which started in Germany circa 1609.
Then the internet happened. (Around the time I was born, incidentally).
Thus began the Cambrian explosion of content. The amount of content gets created exponentially as the ability to publish becomes more accessible.
Today, exabytes of data (that’s one billion gigabytes) are produced. Of this content deluge, 1400+ blog posts are produced per minute, along with countless tweets, Facebook posts, video content and beyond.
But that doesn’t mean that all content is created equal. Suboptimal content creates friction in the user experience, such as unclear directions, content that’s too long for mobile devices, and content that users simply don’t care about (legalese, anyone?) Not to mention the challenge of creating and maintaining that content itself.
Recognizing these content problems, writers, editors and marketers from various disciplines began to recognize the need to be strategic with content.
And that set in motion the field of content strategy today.
Content vs Content Strategy
Content could be as simple as an email campaign or as complex as an SEO optimized website.
Each piece of content constitutes the “what,” and content strategy is the “why” and “how” behind that content:
From these examples, I framed the content strategy column as questions.
These questions support one definition of content strategy:
Content strategy is the creation, management, and marketing of content in a purposeful way that serves both businesses and their users.
Content without strategy is just data. Content strategy considers the context in which content will be consumed.
Sounds similar to user experience? You’re absolutely right.
Understanding content strategy from a UX perspective
There was a time when people thought of UX as another production-oriented role.
Can you UX that? Our quarterly goal is to produce 200 wireframes.
As design gets a bigger seat at the table, UX gets increasingly embraced as a strategic practice that can generate serious ROI for companies.
I now think of content strategy as the user experience of content.
Companies are realizing they can’t just produce content for the sake of content. They need a strategy.
Writing is to content strategy as graphic design is to user experience.
Both UX and content strategy were born out of the failures of the production-only mindset, and the increasing need to be strategic.
Content strategy is here to stay
Awareness and interest in content strategy continues to grow:
Every company has a business model…whether it knows it or not.
Similarly, every business has a content strategy. It just comes down to whether that content strategy is defined or not.
Opportunities abound for the companies looking to be more strategic with content, and those with a knack for wrangling it.
Have feedback for the article? Please tell me your thoughts – it’ll help me with future articles on content strategy and UX.