Overcoming 3 Crucial Challenges with Content Strategy

Maybe I'm wrong, and in that case this post is not for you. The main difficulty businesses and individuals have with social media is the constant demand for fresh and topical content to attract and retain attention. Which is not the same as eyeballs.

Because what everyone wants is described by that overused and oversimplified term — engagement. In addition to looking at what people click on and how often, everyone is keeping score of how engaged people are to their content by tracking and counting subscribers, links, and trackbacks, number of comments and likes, the list goes on.

Every day you look deeply into what you have, often the eyes of your team mates, or your own reflected in the mirror, and work on reaching further. Because to make this happen, you need to figure out a way to make it sustainable, to make publishing a natural part of your processes.

Not an easy task, given the formerly sporadic and outsourced nature of content generation for any kinds of marketing and communications materials. Plus, most organizations still require internal reviews — regulatory issues come to mind as an example of why. I've been there, I do know.

To be successful and own your social conversation, in addition to thinking socially, you need to also figure out how you're going to get your organization to be in it for the long haul. You want to do that, because that's where you need to be for your investment to be worthwhile.

The way I see it, there are 3 crucial challenges to overcome if you want to implement a successful content strategy.

(1.) resource allocation

The main question here revolves around people — Who's going to do it? How many hours per day/week do you allocate to this activity? What kind of knowledge, skills, and training do they need to pull it off? How are they organized?

However, there is also the budgetary consideration connected with the people allocation. Would your money be spent better elsewhere, for example? What's the optimal balance to reach here between content for social, and that for other forms of communication?

We talked about some of these costs when we asked are you ready to become a media company?

(2.) workflow planning

What's your organizational structure? Who needs to be in the loop and under what circumstances? What are the steps in the project(s)? What's the frequency of production? How do you manage document versioning and revisions? 

Having editorial calendars is a good idea, of course. How do you get it all done? How do you figure out an optimal output flow to provide enough information and value?

Figuring this out will help you with resource allocation as well.

(3.) governance

This is always a biggie because it helps you define expectations, assign decision-making roles, and track performance. Governance relates to all the things you manage to make the rest happen — processes, decision-flows, policies and guidelines, etc.

Rules of engagement with social falls under here. How do you regulate personal use of social networks during work hours? Do you address use cases of what to do or not to do on personal time that could impact the business?

How are people going to use data that is company property, for example? Good corporate governance is about establishing patterns that lead to positive results, both in terms of the laws and rules and how they are applied. You may have heard the term also in association with Board of Directors governance.


How you connect the dots between these three will help you make your effort whorthwhile. Sustained effort begets sustainable results.


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0 responses to “Overcoming 3 Crucial Challenges with Content Strategy”

  1. Knowing the kind of resource to allocate is the main problem in social media, especially for a small business starting up. There’s no clear answer, it all depends on the kind of effort you want to pull off, on your strategy and what your final goals are. It’s also hard to make the management understand the business’ money is well spent here rather than in some other promotional investment.
    Organizing a proper content policy is something that has to be taken seriously if you’re serious enough about content creation.
    However I wonder, is it better to start full out with all these safeguards or “just start” and progress on the way?

  2. To reply to Gabriele’s question, it is very important to have a well thought out strategy in place before you start any social media activity for business purposes. At the outset and throughout your social media activity, resource allocation, workflow and governance all need to be taken into account, as Valeria points out. I can say from personal experience that building a community around a brand through social media requires a lot of strategic thinking. You have to consider before hand who your community will be, how will you find them, how you will consistently reach out to them, what type of content you will produce, where you will post it, how you will promote it and how you will manage and monitor all of this over the long-term. Time is money so you really do have to have a plan in place instead of just playing trial and error. It looks very unprofessional when a business simply quits their social media activities because they were unorganized, and this happens all too often.

  3. Valeria,
    I think you are correct in that you can be successful by overcoming those three challenges, but I would also add ’empower’ to that list. Writing to some degree needs some personality and confidence to ring true with the reader. Even though our team has informal reviews on content, we try to let the other feel empowered by their writing. Otherwise, it can feel much more like completing a chore.

  4. Valeria,
    You are singing my song. I just finalized a social media strategy with a huge emphasis on the content plan. To me it is incredible that during most of my research for supporting documents, there is a disparity between social media and content for the social media. Having a plan in place before launching an aggressive online strategy is key to success, visibility and I would say relationship building online.
    Thanks for re-emphasizing what I suspected to be true, but had a difficult time finding. All along…I should have been looking deeper in here 😉

  5. @Gabriele – that’s why you need to plan and measure against plan. I disagree that just jumping in will do the trick.
    @Alexandra – business and personal use are such different conversations with social, I found. It’s easy to be lulled into having a casual or trial and error approach for business when it has worked in personal context. However, as you point out, that’s a dangerous road to travel.
    @Brian – it is hard work, even when one is in charge, so to speak. So having support from the organization and the team does make a big difference.
    @Olga – glad you found the post useful. This is a very deep blog. I could publish from the archives for a year or so an nobody would be the wiser 🙂

  6. Valeria, Good tips for a content strategy, and identifying the Who, What, When, Why and How. I could certainly benefit from an editorial calendar. One of my rules is remaining flexible so that I can respond or adapt as needed. And I might notice if you started recycling old posts, or at least, using the same great Calvin and Hobbes comics. 😉

  7. Thanks for the content strategy tips, Valeria.
    I’m currently working for an employer who wants to “demonstrate authority and expertise” to our core customer through new product, new workflow, and new communications approaches.
    There’s no doubt that the delivery of good content will help accomplish the mission.
    I’m hoping that pitching an approach down the road using your key points helps demonstrate that both internal and external content strategy and scheduling can promote authority in a marketplace.
    …I hope. In the meantime, I’m definitely reading your stuff!

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