On Monday the Cambridge Usability Group welcomed Rahel Bailie, all the way from Vancouver,¬†to give a talk titled ‘The Content Strategy Paradox’. There’s been a lot written about content strategy recently. I’ve read articles and books that promote content strategy (too many to list here) and some¬†articles that question the existence of content strategy as a standalone discipline, like this recent one. So I was keen to hear what Rahel had to say.

The first part of Rahel’s talk addressed confusion over the definition of the term ‘content strategy’. She highlighted that recent workshops and events have promoted a number of seemingly paradoxical interpretations of the term ‘content strategy’. But in reality, whilst there are a wide range of specialisms that involve content (including web, social, mobile, editorial, brand positioning, marketing, support and technical), there is only one discipline. In other words, it’s all content strategy!

Rahel then covered some of the processes and approaches to researching, planning, developing, publishing and managing content.

One of the main takeaways for me was that “Consumers use all types of content to make buying decisions”. Customers don’t differentiate between marketing, support and social content, so neither should you.

Rahel provided some excellent ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ examples of how content affects our purchasing decisions. I think everyone who uses the internet has experience of struggling to gather and compare product information before making a purchase. Companies that fail to focus their content on user needs and tasks or provide sufficient, detailed support information and leverage user generated content are missing a trick!

However, having great quality content is not enough. Rahel outlined that you also need to know how and when to deliver your content, and to which audience. Think about whether all your content is relevant to all your customers. Chances are it isn’t. This tweet from one of the audience summed up the amusing example Rahel gave us!

Overall it was a really entertaining and useful talk. I was busy sketching away throughout (something I’m trying out to improve my skills in sketching and summarising information), so here are my sketchnotes:

Sketch notes from Rahel Bailie's talk on Content Strategy

And here are Rahel’s slides from a previous presentation of the same talk:

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