Content Strategy: Let’s Ask the Question Why?

on March 2, 2014

In my last post I spoke about the importance in viewing your website as a garden instead of a building with the benefit of saving valuable time and creating a thriving website full of useful and relevant content. The garden analogy can be absolutely pivotal in how we develop our website persona.  However, ultimately if we do not understand why we post content and how to post content specifically designed to address that concept then it serves no purpose.

Recently, I have been reading an excellent book about this very topic called Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach. They have created a resource for executing successful content strategies with the end result being useful, usable content for your online audiences, when and where they need it most. However they stress the importance of starting with the question why?

Kristina and Melissa make a great point that in our desire to deliver: to employers, clients, customers- we may tend to race right past strategy and into execution. It’s not that we’re not interested in doing the right thing. It’s simply that we’re under constant pressure to deliver, to do something we can show our boss (and our boss’s boss). We’re expected to churn out requests, tasks initiatives, and documentation as quickly as possible. That leaves very little time to step back, take a breath, and ask: “Why are we doing all this in the first place?”

“Creating content might be a good tactic, but it isn’t something you should do just because you can.” Time to start asking the question why? Why are you creating content in the first place? What is your end goal? From here, we begin to filter our content and create concentrated value rather than diluted material.

Brain Traffic has created an excellent resource to help answer these questions through an info graphic describing the critical components to consider in every content strategy decision. Below is Brain Traffic’s info graphic referred to as the quad.

At the center of the why question is the core content strategy. This is the central idea for using content to achieve your organization’s business goals. To achieve that strategy most effectively, we look at four closely related components. The core strategy directs what the content will be and how it will be structured:

content-strategy-frameworkContent-focused components:

1) Substance—What kind of content do we need (topics, types, sources, etc.), and what messages does content need to communicate to our audience?

2) Structure—How is content prioritized, organized, formatted, and displayed? (Structure can include communication planning, metadata, data modeling, linking strategies, etc.)

People-focused components:

3) Workflow—What processes, tools, and human resources are required for content initiatives to launch successfully and maintain ongoing quality?

4) Governance—How are key decisions about content and content strategy made? How are changes initiated and communicated?

The ultimate answer to why in content strategy is to connect real content to real people. That authentic connection is the key to getting your content right. Identify your audience’s needs and consistently return to the question why? Resources such as Brain Traffic’s quad are guidelines to help keep you focused. Once the why question has been answered it is up to you to realize the best way to meet the needs of your audience to create a thriving garden. By applying the quad you start making your site’s content instantly more valuable and prune other content back that doesn’t fit your desired end result.