Challenges in Content Strategy for the Coming Year

The-Blog-Tree I've been thinking about what's next in content strategy.

Some of the questions that come up when I talk with organizations focus on the challenges teams are facing with content as a business asset. It's very hard to justify investing in something with a longer term payout.

Given that current marketing and communication practices are still very much centered around a specific campaign or event — landing pages, one or two Website pages optimized and doing the heavy lifting in terms of search — many organizations have not shifted their approach nor mindset to become publishers.

Is leadership going to go for additional investments in content creation?

Making the case by example

In the case where leadership is open to allocating greater resources, they want to know who’s executing terrific content strategies? The best way to sell a concept is often to show what an implementation would look like.

Use examples from other organizations to demonstrate and drive the point home. Better when not in your industry, and with results in hand.

Because the challenge there becomes to move away from the concept of the example and executing something new — it is the something new or done differently that will give the organization a competitive edge.

Businesses are still in a very risk-averse mode and something that has not been tried before will be a harder sell. Be prepared to address objections.

Making the case with data

That's where you should look for facts and statistics that show the evolution of static Websites into more fluid and search friendly places that are part of an ecosystem designed to connect with prospects, get them what they need to make better buying decisions with you.

I wrote extensively about Websites — and online presence — being organized in thirds, with editorial impact, community building, and marketing actions as ingredients and organizing principles.

Blogs are contributing greatly to search engine optimization (SEO), and are especially helpful in balancing out search engine marketing (SEM) expenses.

Social media and mobile are also forcing organizations to plan and own broader content strategies built on solid frameworks with a conversation or interaction component — both baked into the way people buy, when they decide, who helps them make those decisions, etc.

What's next in search

By far the biggest concern on the horizon are the new tags which indicate to Google what content is original to the site. Google will soon prefer the original sources in the display of search results.

This is great for content creators like you and me, and terrible for aggregators like the very many sites that have sprouted in the last couple of years. If you're a content creator, you probably receive dozens of content requests by these sites a week.

A few have foreseen this trend develop and adopted a different approach — even though it started as a place where people syndicated posts from their blogs, Social Media Today, for example, shifted to original content. Others will need to reorganize the way they operate — The Huffington Post comes to mind.

So that's where the hand is being forced. Aggregators will have to add value if they want good SEO returns. Is content curation the answer? 

Challenges as opportunities

This will make ascertaining what is really attractive to the reader much more important, since few companies have the resources to originate everything.

Better reader research. Narrower site topics. Lower ratios of aggregated and syndicated content. That's where the challenges lie for site owners. The good news for organizations is that, especially in the B2B space, the experts are in house. In B2Cs, the passionate digital brand managers know their brands really well.

Which is also the bad news. Because in the first case, these are often the companies that don't allocate enough resources to content creation and marketing communications. It's not unusual to come across content by the pound tweaked only slightly to work for search and lead generation.

In the second case, B2Cs, brands that touch consumers directly — and with social media more brands do that anyway for the sake of growth — brand managers have a much bigger plate than content generation.

Will content strategy expand beyond the marketing and communication group in your organization? Have you invested in a community manager, for example?

Content strategy in the new year

These are some of the key thoughts I have around content strategy in the new year. The evolution of search, social media, and mobile open up plenty of opportunities for leaders on the organization side to emerge and build a significant advantage.

We're moving passed the question of content value and utility for brands and into the next generation of content. Are you working on your content strategy to make an impact? Would you be interested in a deeper dive on this topic? What keeps you up at night about content strategy?


[image of The Blog Tree. I included it because it's a good example of stepping away from conventional ways to organize content and experimenting with more interactive/different ways. it got people talking, as you can see in the comments of the post. Many more ideas on Facebook, too. Yup, this blog is on the tree.]

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0 responses to “Challenges in Content Strategy for the Coming Year”

  1. One of the things I’m still working on myself, at my agency, and with clients is consistency of content creation…setting a reasonable pace and sticking with it whether that’s 1 blog post each month, 2 flickr photo sets each week, or whatever else. Tying that with content focus makes it much easier to set realistic expectations for how long it actually takes to create and/or curate content. I know it’s not a new problem, but it’s something that, at least in many of the cases I deal with, I don’t see going away any time soon 😉

  2. @Eric, I struggle with the same thing. Most of my clients are small businesses, and company leaders struggle to balance their conventional duties with the demands of subject matter expertise. Even scheduling an interview for me to write their thoughts down is difficult.
    The other challenge I run into is turning the content into conversation across multiple platforms: forum, blog, Twitter primarily — and then (tied into the above problem) helping the subject matter experts respond on other blogs.

  3. This is pretty exciting. All I have to say about Google looking to prioritize original, non-aggregated content is:
    BRING. IT. ON.
    I’ve got a rant loosely related to the topic brewing upstairs, which I’ll spare the world until it’s simmered a while longer, but I would like to mention the idea of thirds – editorial/community/marketing – clicked this morning. I’ll be bringing it up with the team shortly.
    Thanks as always. 🙂

  4. The common question in the real estate industry is “Will blogging bring leads that close in the next six month?” If no then they do not have the time to blog. I, however, am launching my site in Jan because I see that in the long term it will set me up for success. @Live_alpharetta

  5. @Eric – that is the hardest part, consistency. Finding useful information and making interactions valuable over time to unlock the value to both you and your customers. and all without making it feel or sound rote. Thus, mixing things up a little, adding sizzle to the steak, and so on. I can attest to it taking time for sure.
    @Christa – I’m mulling over the necessity to be in all outposts. Certainly, if a conversation develops, it can be opportunistic to be there. Thinking about having a hub model in terms of where people can find the subject matter experts more easily… good thoughts.
    @Brian – and to think I presented that concept in June 2008 at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum. Glad it clicked with you. I love it when people feel energized and go do cool stuff.
    @Sabine – good for you. Developing a habit for being connected with your subject matter and the community will pay off. There is a thriving real estate blogging community, by the way. Find @BillLublin and follow the tweets.

  6. @Christa & @Valeria The difficulty of being on multiple platforms is one reason that we’re examining in-house networks much more with our clients. In certain cases, they’re proving valuable because the startup investment is much more development-intensive (which many execs are more comfortable with) than time-intensive (which they’re less comfortable with generally). Of course, being in nonprofit, the feeling of a Facebook page, in-house network, and so on can often be significantly different from, say, Best Buy’s Facebook page.

  7. @Sabine – You might want to look up @drubloomfield on Twitter. She’s a Realtor friend of mine in Scottsdale, Arizona, who regularly blogs about not only the real estate market, but the local community as well.
    Just thought I would mention Dru, as it can be helpful to get to know others doing what you’re looking to do.

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