Content Strategists: What they do, how they work
The job title “content strategist” is one that has evolved over the past decade or so as the interactive agency business has grown and with it the need for people who can think strategically about the kinds of content that websites should publish.
Content strategists combine the skills of writers, editors and publishers to think in a holistic way about what users should see when they visit a site — are they looking for articles? Audio or video clips? Calendars of upcoming events?
They also give a lot of time to thinking about how content should be presented on a website, the order in which users should see it, and the editorial voice and tone it should speak with consistently across a site.
Hand-in-hand with copywriters, designers and information architects
When they’re part of a creative team at an interactive agency, content strategists spend a large part of their time coming up with concepts for how content should be presented, and create what are known as editorial style guides to help writers for a website execute the creative concepts they’ve designed.
It helps also to know what we’re talking about when we say “content.” Content When we talk about “content,” we mean mostly textual content – the articles, introductory text and nomenclature you see throughout a site – but content can include many other items.
Content includes (but is not limited to):
- Articles – the subject matter your users are visiting the site to see
- Brand identity messages – headlines and teasers that communicate the brand, as well as introductory text that speaks in the brand voice and tone of the site
- Organizational information – press releases, employment listings, etc.
- Nomenclature – a naming system for buttons, categories, navigation, and links
- Instructional copy – text and graphics that explain how to use site features and tools
- Community areas – interactive site features like message boards and chat areas
- Error and confirmation messages
- Email messages
- Legal information – terms-of-use agreements and privacy policies
- Marketing messages – user testimonials, promotional and advertising text
Their involvement begins early, with activities such as the crafting of the editorial voice and tone, continues with the planning and executing of a content creation plan, to assisting in and advising the process of content tagging and scrubbing in later phases of a project.
Many of these activities are collaborative. Some, like designing content management application interfaces, require only advisory involvement from a content strategist. However, this list gives a complete picture of the major activities that must be completed during a project for a site to go live successfully.