I am convinced that almost all of my fellow students heard this one annoying question I keep hearing for almost half a year: “Content what…?” People seemed to be a bit confused when they first heard the title of my master’s program “Content Strategy”. Okay, it’s a fact, Content Strategy is a very young compared to other scientific fields. However, this does not mean that it’s less important. Quite the contrary. Nowadays everybody is confronted with content day in day out. We consume it en masse every day, consciously and subconsciously. Using smartphones, computers and other mobile devices, taking and uploading pictures, reading newspapers, booking flights, keeping in touch with friends, we are consuming content in different kind of ways. “Content” is something people have associations with. It is something they deal with every day. The same applies to the term “Strategy”. People do have a concept in mind when they hear the word. A strategy used to achieve goals and solve problems. Of content and strategy seems abstract to many people.
In more than three billion search queries per day, users look for relevant content, using the market leader in search engines, Google. Increasingly, it turns out that the majority of users are overwhelmed with digital rubbish and irrelevant content. In the early phase of the Internet people used to be more tolerant of different kinds of irrelevant web content. Times have changed and the World Wide Web is now ubiquitous. At the same time the tolerance limit towards inadequate web content and advertising messages have decreased significantly. Over time, have become more resistant to web content, almost as if a filter has been set up to block our absorption capacity. In a digitalized world however, Content is the base for each company’s web success. They have experienced the problem of customer acquisition and retention. As response rates drop, business objectives can no longer be achieved. Many sub-subjects, such as Marketing and Content Marketing, Customer Support, Social Media, long-term content recycling, channel variety and many more have to be considered. Therefore, Content Strategy can be seen as an umbrella of all those sub-strategies.
Similarities between content strategists and surfers
As I work for a sports company I tend to make comparisons to this industry. I see many parallels between the performance of a content strategist and a surfer – and not only because both of them surf, one on the Internet and the other on the waves.
Analysis is the first important step to success, whether it is a content audience or an actual surfer analysing the surf conditions. In this phase, the actor is creating a scenario which is crucial for each further step. The second phase is about information gathering. The actors are faced with the question: Where is the challenge from? For the content strategist the question is who will be the creator? Will there be content missing? Surfers are collecting as much information as possible about the condition of the ocean. Their performance will depend on the wave and wind intensity. In the third phase, both actors have to manage the elements. Content strategists model and structure their collected content for specific target groups. Surfers adapt their relevant surfing skills to the information they acquired during the analysis and collection process. Step four is about delivery. One is delivering relevant content, the other performance. There is no final version of a performance for them because there is always a new trend to come that brings new challenges to overcome.