One of the best things about the content strategy community is that they’re so willing to share their advice and knowledge. There’s no better way to learn than through the experiences of others and someone with oodles of content strategy experience is Kristina Halvorson.
Kristina is author of Content Strategy for the Web, CEO and Founder of Brain Traffic and Confab Events and a renowned speaker and voice on content strategy. Phew! On August 3rd we are holding a live Q&A with Kristina where you can ask all things content strategy.
As inspiration, we’ve taken a look back at the last Q&A we had with Kristina and summarised 3 key learnings from the chat.
This is the number one question asked of Kristina. Content folk always struggle with how to convince people in their organisation that content strategy is something that they need.
Kristina shared the example of when eBay introduced content strategy to their European division. The content strategist hired spent 9 months moving around the organisation on a listening tour. This was before any project planning was underway. This is the best way to win trust with anyone, sit and listen to them and reflect back on what you’re hearing. People want to be seen and they want to be heard.
Kristina continued that through the information gathered from listening to people, patterns can then be identified as to shared challenges and goals and also primary pain points. ‘It’s only through understanding these issues that you can introduce a framework like content strategy, start to solve the problems and soothe the pains.
A top tip from Kristina was that you don’t have to call it content strategy if that label is going to get in the way of things. Use a vocabulary that is familiar to your stakeholders and will resonate them.
Collaborating on content sucks! When an answer starts like that you know what will follow is going to be gold! Kristina continued by listing some of the people that may be part of a content team or website project:
One way of keeping people aligned on content is to have standards and guidelines documented. But rather than just emailing a document and leaving it there, ensure there are ongoing conversations and training around the guidelines, workflow, governance, and processes for content.
Tools really do matter a lot too, though some facilitate decision by committee which is the worst thing that can happen to your content. You have to understand who is responsible, who gets to say no, who has specific input and who just needs to be kept informed. GatherContent makes a lot more sense over other tools like Word and Google Docs, because you can have control over the workflow. (Editor’s note: We didn’t ask Kristina to mention us 😉). Having that workflow built into the content production tool controls the feedback, gives visibility to progress and makes it clear who is responsible for what, any by when.
Kristina is also an advocate for getting input as early as possible. Deciding when stakeholders should be involved is really key. Make it clear when they are needed and what they are needed for. To write, review or approve content? And if they are reviewing, what do you need them to check? Spelling and grammar, voice and tone, accuracy?
If you have ability to do so, Kristina added, put 15-30 mins on a person’s calendar, send them an invite and tell let them know what they need to get done during that time. This can be tricky when working for clients, but for in-house teams it is a good way of keeping the process moving. Kristina shared that doing that has made the Brain Traffic process quicker as it isn’t just a check item on a to do. The final bit of advice from Kristina in relation to better collaboration was to watch our webinar on pair-writing. Pair-writing is a task that Kristina has seen being implemented more and more at a client level.
This is a vital part of content strategy but clearly one that many struggle with based on the number of questions we had around this topic. Kristina’s first response was, it depends! This is because it really does depend on what are you’re trying to do. It also depends on:
There are different metrics you could measure too including conversion, lead collection, trying to make content more readable, brand analysis. You need to know the benchmarks in order to be able to determine if/what improvements have been made in each area.
Kristina reassured us by saying that there is no wholesale approach to measuring the effectiveness of your content. It’s a question of knowing what you want to measure, what the benchmarks are, finding tools and methods to measure and test the content and then being able to analyse and disseminate the findings to inform any future decisions around content.
Have you struggled with the above and want to try and find out more about Kristina’s experiences in these areas? Perhaps you’re new to content strategy or face a different challenge and would welcome some advice. Whatever your content strategy question, send them to us and then we will be asking as many as we can in our next live Q&A with Kristina on Thursday August 3rd at 4pm BST (London time). 👉 Reserve your free spot now.
Rob is Content Strategist at GatherContent. He is a journalism graduate and has previously worked as Studio Manager and Head of Content for a design agency and as an Audience Research Executive for the BBC. He’s a published author and regular contributor to industry publications including Net Magazine, Smashing Magazine, 24 Ways, WebTuts+, UX Matters , UX Booth and Content Marketing Institute. On occasion Rob speaks about content strategy at leading industry events.
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