Advice From the Pros

What Does a Content Strategist Do?

This role requires versatile writing, client-facing skills and SEO know-how

If you’re not sure what a content strategist does, don’t worry, you’re not alone. To help, we asked two content strategists to de-mystify the job. Read on to find out what they had say.

What exactly does a content strategist do?

The short answer is: create content for branded websites.

The long answer: “create content that resonates with [an] existing fan base, yet is differentiated and engaging enough to draw in new, underserved or overlooked consumers,” explained Bradley James Morin, head of content and growth at 12up, a global sports media and technology company.

Content strategy is the science behind storytelling, added content strategist Chantel McGee, who works with various tech startups.

“As a content strategist, I use data, research and my understanding of psychology to shape my client’s narrative and create content experiences tailored to the company’s target audience.”

A content strategist plans, writes and edits content; ensures it is clear, compelling and properly distributed across web, mobile and social platforms; and adheres to a consistent brand philosophy.

Day-to-day responsibilities often include creating and managing social media campaigns; monitoring engagement and analyzing data; managing content marketing campaigns; implementing SEO best practices; and building strategic partnerships.

You may also have to find time for video production and information architecture.

What skills do I need?

“I firmly believe the best content strategists have a background in journalism and a fundamental understanding of how to tell compelling stories,” says McGee, a former TV news reporter.

You should also love content—all of it, she says. You’re telling your client’s or company’s story, so writing skills, including copywriting, are important.

But “it’s not enough to be a good writer; you should also be able to produce video and understand how to tailor that content to different digital and social media platforms.”

You should also be well versed in social media, programming languages and analytics.

Who is a content strategist’s supervisor?

Every company’s different, so it depends who signs your checks. McGee, for example, typically reports to the vice president of marketing. The senior content strategist at 12UP, the global head of content strategy and growth, answers to the big man himself: the CEO.

What does it take to excel in this position?

“Being able to learn from failure and quickly iterate while maintaining a positive attitude is key on our team,” said Morin. “The greatest successes that we’ve had have often [come] from failures.”

How can I break into this field?

“I don’t think having a specific type of degree is necessarily as important as having multimedia, multi-platform experience,” says McGee.

Music to the ears of math, philosophy, art and other majors turned content enthusiasts.

Look for internships that provide hands-on experience in areas such as analytics, copywriting and/or media planning. They should help you land a junior content strategist gig. Then you’re off to the races.


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