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.]