The ten minute content strategy

The ten minute content strategy

2 minute read

The ten minute content strategy

2 minute read

The ten minute content strategy

Steven Wilson-Beales

Head of Editorial, Global

Today is such a special day for me that I wanted to share it with you.It’s been twelve months since I left the relative comfy confines of a corporate job for the rocky road of freelance life. The journey hasn’t always been smooth but I’ve been supported by such an amazing community of fellow content strategists (that means YOU!) that I thought it was time to give something back.

The ten minute content strategy is my way of saying ‘thanks’ for everything you’ve done. You might not like the present I am about to give you, you may even snigger slightly like when you received that pair of florescent stripy socks from your out-of-touch aunt. Just know that these are very special socks and they’ve kept me warm all year…

He’s bonkers you know

Content strategy? In ten minutes? Impossible!

But imagine. You’re waiting to go into a meeting when a colleague turns and asks you to present your content ideas for a site you’ve never seen before.

Or, you’re manically working on a project when you hear that gentle, satanic PING OF A CALENDAR REMINDER telling you the boss is going to call in ten. Numbskull! How did you forget?

You get the idea. This isn’t about delivering a comprehensive audit. This is about taking your best shot within a short space of time using a few tools at your disposal. No one is going to let you steer their business after a ten minute audit, but it will lead to further conversations…

Your time starts now…

When I look at a website I look for relevance. By that I mean I’m looking for evidence that the client has taken a user-centric approach to their digital strategy. Do they actually acknowledge you at all or are you reading what might as well be a marketing brochure?

Make sure you have this hexagon scribbled on a post-it somewhere:

honeycomb

Load up the homepage and look at the following:

  • Your first impressions. Do you get it? Do you know why you are here? Do you know what you will find if you click on a link? Do you feel reassured (excited even) or confused, annoyed? What is the one message you take from this page?
  • Similarly, look at the language used on the page. Do you feel like this is a real human being talking to you, a robot, or eighteenth century diplomat?
  • Look at the use of modules on the page, the balance between text and images. Does the page ‘flow’ or do the sections look like buckets of poorly linked content?
  • Are they using a carousel? Look at what is being promoted. Does ‘it’ work?
  • God no, that’s not an actual typo is it?!

Then dig a little deeper, visit a couple of sections on the site, maybe even read an article:

  • Are you reassured by the navigation?
  • Is the business adopting an ‘Every Page a Homepage’ approach? If not, can you see a good reason for this (are you entering a purchasing funnel?)
  • Is the content on this page what you were expecting? Did it answer the question you wanted answered? Was it easily legible? Did it speak to you in a language you are familiar with and could trust?
  • Is the page easily sharable? If appropriate, does it feel like the site is inspiring you to debate and become part of the community?

Then, quickly, you’ve only got five minutes left…

Time to check out social and search. Ask yourself these questions…

  • Can you find the social network sites easily? What is the frequency of updates? Are they engaging with the audience here?
  • Are they using the same tone of voice on these social sites as their main site? If not, what could be the reason?
  • Is the business using best practise methods to increase engagement – use of hashtags, large images for Google+ etc…  Are they part of the conversation?
  • Now fire up a tool like Screaming Frog. Look at the selection of keywords being used on the site. Which keywords is the business optimising for?
  • Now fire up Google. Throw these words into the search bar. Where do they rank? Are they running PPC campaigns?
  • Do you think the site has been structured around these keywords? (or are you ready to have a conversation with your client about semantic search?)
  • Lastly, and if you have time, throw in a couple of Google commands ... like ‘site:www.yourwebsite.com keyword’ and see which page is ranking for that term. Use the same method for a competitor.

Time’s up!

Ok, that’s it. The boss is phoning and you’ve run out of time. As you’re speaking to him quickly visit the client mobile site or app. Does it completely suck, or rock?What did you learn? Well, hopefully you’ve looked at this:

  • Design/UX
  • Editorial
  • SEO
  • Social

You’ve worked fast enough to really take note of your first impressions and, believe me, they count for a lot… Critically, you have should have gained an awareness of your client’s pain points and are ready to whet their appetite for change. You’re ready to talk strategy.

Good luck!

Today is such a special day for me that I wanted to share it with you.It’s been twelve months since I left the relative comfy confines of a corporate job for the rocky road of freelance life. The journey hasn’t always been smooth but I’ve been supported by such an amazing community of fellow content strategists (that means YOU!) that I thought it was time to give something back.

The ten minute content strategy is my way of saying ‘thanks’ for everything you’ve done. You might not like the present I am about to give you, you may even snigger slightly like when you received that pair of florescent stripy socks from your out-of-touch aunt. Just know that these are very special socks and they’ve kept me warm all year…

He’s bonkers you know

Content strategy? In ten minutes? Impossible!

But imagine. You’re waiting to go into a meeting when a colleague turns and asks you to present your content ideas for a site you’ve never seen before.

Or, you’re manically working on a project when you hear that gentle, satanic PING OF A CALENDAR REMINDER telling you the boss is going to call in ten. Numbskull! How did you forget?

You get the idea. This isn’t about delivering a comprehensive audit. This is about taking your best shot within a short space of time using a few tools at your disposal. No one is going to let you steer their business after a ten minute audit, but it will lead to further conversations…

Your time starts now…

When I look at a website I look for relevance. By that I mean I’m looking for evidence that the client has taken a user-centric approach to their digital strategy. Do they actually acknowledge you at all or are you reading what might as well be a marketing brochure?

Make sure you have this hexagon scribbled on a post-it somewhere:

honeycomb

Load up the homepage and look at the following:

  • Your first impressions. Do you get it? Do you know why you are here? Do you know what you will find if you click on a link? Do you feel reassured (excited even) or confused, annoyed? What is the one message you take from this page?
  • Similarly, look at the language used on the page. Do you feel like this is a real human being talking to you, a robot, or eighteenth century diplomat?
  • Look at the use of modules on the page, the balance between text and images. Does the page ‘flow’ or do the sections look like buckets of poorly linked content?
  • Are they using a carousel? Look at what is being promoted. Does ‘it’ work?
  • God no, that’s not an actual typo is it?!

Then dig a little deeper, visit a couple of sections on the site, maybe even read an article:

  • Are you reassured by the navigation?
  • Is the business adopting an ‘Every Page a Homepage’ approach? If not, can you see a good reason for this (are you entering a purchasing funnel?)
  • Is the content on this page what you were expecting? Did it answer the question you wanted answered? Was it easily legible? Did it speak to you in a language you are familiar with and could trust?
  • Is the page easily sharable? If appropriate, does it feel like the site is inspiring you to debate and become part of the community?

Then, quickly, you’ve only got five minutes left…

Time to check out social and search. Ask yourself these questions…

  • Can you find the social network sites easily? What is the frequency of updates? Are they engaging with the audience here?
  • Are they using the same tone of voice on these social sites as their main site? If not, what could be the reason?
  • Is the business using best practise methods to increase engagement – use of hashtags, large images for Google+ etc…  Are they part of the conversation?
  • Now fire up a tool like Screaming Frog. Look at the selection of keywords being used on the site. Which keywords is the business optimising for?
  • Now fire up Google. Throw these words into the search bar. Where do they rank? Are they running PPC campaigns?
  • Do you think the site has been structured around these keywords? (or are you ready to have a conversation with your client about semantic search?)
  • Lastly, and if you have time, throw in a couple of Google commands ... like ‘site:www.yourwebsite.com keyword’ and see which page is ranking for that term. Use the same method for a competitor.

Time’s up!

Ok, that’s it. The boss is phoning and you’ve run out of time. As you’re speaking to him quickly visit the client mobile site or app. Does it completely suck, or rock?What did you learn? Well, hopefully you’ve looked at this:

  • Design/UX
  • Editorial
  • SEO
  • Social

You’ve worked fast enough to really take note of your first impressions and, believe me, they count for a lot… Critically, you have should have gained an awareness of your client’s pain points and are ready to whet their appetite for change. You’re ready to talk strategy.

Good luck!

Worksheet

Content Strategy Roadmap

A free step-by-step path, template, and checklist towards creating a content strategy.

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About the author

Steven Wilson-Beales

Steven Wilson-Beales is Head of Editorial at Global, responsible for the digital editorial output across 11 brands including LBC, Capital, Heart, Classic FM, Radio X, Smooth and Popbuzz. Those brands are now viewed in more than a billion Facebook newsfeeds each month.

Before joining Global in 2014, he was Managing Editor (Entertainment) at MSN UK and Head of Internet at Ministry of Sound. He started his career as a music journalist for Universal Music.

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