When did everyone become a content strategy expert?

There was a great link going round last week to a presentation called: Crap – the content marketing deluge.

The basic message behind the very clever and funny slideshow is that suddenly everyone involved in marketing has woken up to the concept of ‘content’ and how important it is to produce – thus making your (the expert in content and content strategy) job twice, or possibly 100 times as hard: to get cut-through.

‘Endorse me’

In a related area, I’ve noticed that the new ‘endorse’ feature within LinkedIn becoming more and more popular.

Members write down their supposed areas of expertise and connections ‘endorse’ that skill.

The interesting thing I’ve spotted is that almost everyone seems to have suddenly become skilled in content strategy.

Let me first point out that – although content is my day-to-day job – I don’t consider myself a major authority in content strategy.

However, my years in magazines and subsequent experience online have given me a fairly good grasp of the area.

Content bandwagon

I’m not doubting everyone I know or who have worked with previously, but it’s fairly clear – from where I’m sitting – that this is a bandwagon everyone seems to be jumping on.

I imagine the conversation might go something like this:
‘Have you heard about this content strategy malarkey?’
‘Yeah, it’s basically content management and marketing with a fancy name, isn’t it?’
‘Exactly. We do that already, don’t we?’
‘Sure do – another useful skill to add on LinkedIn then’

Crude, I know, but you get my point.

Magazines were there first

The funny thing is – back in magazine days – no-one would ever have launched any title without doing the crucial analysis work that underpins any good online content strategy currently.

We knew our target reader intimately, had tested the concept thoroughly and only then did the magazine jump into the market.

Then, as the magazine evolved, regular surveys and analysis were carried out to refresh different sections, killing any regular feature that failed to engage readers.

It was more long-winded, but it performed the same function.

Aimless online?

For some reason the majority websites are created without any clear idea of the user and how to reach them.

The rise of content strategy is really an attempt to backfill the work that wasn’t done properly originally and ensure future online strategies aren’t doomed to failure before they begin.

To be honest, I totally understand the interest in CS – after all, it has enabled those who ‘just’ did content management or content marketing to do something a lot more interesting.

I just hope those who claim to ‘do content strategy’ really know what’s involved.

Am I being unfair or is the concept of content strategy being hijacked?

4 thoughts on “When did everyone become a content strategy expert?”

  1. Oh god so true. I’m working on a site who has no idea who their user is or why they would buy from them. They want me to create original content and yet have no idea what they want and why they want it. Site looks beautiful though. Bit like building an amazing million pound house in middle of nowhere, and asking people to find a buyer ASAP!

  2. Well put, Rob, thank you – it needed saying. I was quite excited when I discovered the concept of ‘content strategy’ some time ago – but only because it summed up what I already do, better than my existing job title. Like you, I’ve previously worked in print and if you’re an editor you do all that big picture stuff anyway. You’re right, too, about hijacking – I saw something from an internet marketing company recently that confidently defined content strategy as a) choosing keywords and b) making users do what you want. (That’s it.)

  3. Thanks for this. I recently worked at a company that hired someone who had written online newsletters and overseen some content management. Then they called her a content strategist. But there were no strategy skills there. No idea how to plan for content, do an an inventory, create messaging statements… Oy! And yes, I see people I know who have been web writers calling themselves content strategists without any experience iin the core cs deliverables.
    But another problem is companies who don’t know what they are looking for so they hire the wrong people. And companies who put managers with no understanding of cs in decision-making roles over content strategists.

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