The Evolution of Content Strategy
Written by Rebecca Steurer, Content Academy® Co-Founder & Content Strategist
I originally wrote this blog post in 2013. Today is May 18, 2017. In four short years, we continue to see content and content strategy evolve into a key player in the digital world. Since writing The Evolution of Content Strategy in 2013/14, we’ve seen organizations rethink how they optimize their online presence with content thanks to the advancement of technology, and of course, because of Google algorithms. This continued growth is causing the content strategists role to be valued more than ever. Here is the original blog post with updated information about how content strategy continues to evolve. Let me know how content affects your world.
Original post starts here . . .
2013 – According to Forbes, the top marketing job of 2014 is Director of Content. How did that happen? Let’s look back in time to see how content strategy and content marketing became the “it” job.
IN THE BEGINNING
The year, roughly 1996
Companies started using the Internet, aka the information super highway or World Wide Web, to post annual reports as PDFs. Non-technical individuals started posting “HELLO” in blinking letters (yes, that was me). Why? Because it was fun. As technology advancements made it easy for just about anyone to create a website, more and more people did.
Soon, hundreds. . . . thousands . . . hundreds of thousands of websites with downloadable brochures popped up. With this rapid increase, the information got overwhelming and not easy to read.
The fun was fading.
AND SO, UX WAS BORN
The year, roughly 2000
Some very smart people got together and decided that websites needed to be easy to navigate. New terms were introduced – “information architecture,” “user experience,” “interaction,” “wireframes.” Now websites started becoming easier to use. We didn’t get lost in a sea of brochures. We could find our way “home.” It was time to celebrate!
But wait, thanks to content management systems, more people were able to post information faster. But faster meant posting without thinking about the content that was being added to the site. The actual information users needed wasn’t there. “Why, oh why are companies telling me about their history?” asked users. “I just want to know their hours of operation!” Not to mention every page was written in a different voice (we’ll save that topic for another blog post).
There had to be a way to develop a plan that made it easier to post information that is relevant, fresh and on message.
AND SO, CONTENT STRATEGY WAS BORN
The year, roughly 2003
The roles and responsibilities of content strategists are many. But who are they? Journalists? Copywriters? Marketers? What knowledge and skills do they need to wrangle the thousands of pages of content into well-organized groupings? Lets answer those questions once and for all. Content strategists are:
- Archaeologists who like to inventory and assess content
- Organizers who like to group content into relevant categories so the information is easy to scan
- Audience advocates who strive to post the information their audiences want and need
- Leaders who assign content owners to write, post and delete
- Unifiers whose ultimate goal is to tear down the walls between marketing, public relations, communications and business units
As content strategists started to organize the information to be useful, meaningful and trusted, The CEOs and CMOs of the world asked, “Now, how do we let people know our website exists?”
AND SO, CONTENT MARKETING WAS BORN
The year, roughly 2010
Thanks to technology, sharing the message became “easy.” Hello social media tools – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram. Strategies were created to determine where, what, when, why and how to post messages. Suddenly, content strategy started to shine.
DIRECTOR OF CONTENT: TOP MARKETING JOB OF 2014
The year, 2014
With Forbes reporting that the top marketing job of 2014 is Director of Content, there is proof that companies see the value of well-organized, well-maintained and well-shared content. They are looking to content strategist and content marketers to develop and share the message of how their companies’ are unique and stand out in the crowd.
SEO BEGINS TO FOCUS ON QUALITY CONTENT
The year, 2015
Google announces a Panda algorithm that focuses on quality content on mobile optimization. This is an audience-first advancement to help searchers find the information they’re looking for on a first Google search pass. This change bridged the gap between SEO and content strategy. Now, content strategists need to provide recommendations on how to provide quality content. That means, more content development, less keyword stuffing. Ug, who is going to do this work? Hint: Content Strategists!
CORPORATE BLOGGING GAINS MOMENTUM
The year, 2016
On Rainmaker.FM, Unemployable Podcast “Blogging is Back,” host, Brian Clark and ProBlogger founder, Darren Rowse, discuss how corporate blogging is stronger than ever. Content Strategists need to understand how corporate blogging can support the online experience and ensure the content is consistent and in-line with the user needs and business goals. This tactic is causing traditional marketers to start thinking like content strategists and content marketers.
RECRUITING FOR CONTENT STRATEGY INCREASES
The year, 2017
As more marketing budgets are allocated to digital marketing, corporations are finding they need content strategists to help them wrangle the content ecosystem. We’re starting to see more job listings looking for experienced professionals who can produce content, who understand SEO, who can manage the editorial calendar and who know how to post content online. We’re at a time where the demand out ways the supply, but not for long . . .