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 unsure 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 to say and for a comprehensive look at the evolving role of the content strategist.

What exactly does a content strategist do?

The short answer is to 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 essential.

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.”

The Rise of AI in Content Strategy

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshaping various industries, and content strategy is no exception. AI tools can help content strategists analyze consumer behavior, predict trends, and even generate basic content. Understanding how to work alongside AI algorithms can give content strategists a competitive edge.

The Importance of Data-Driven Decision Making

Gone are the days when content was created solely based on intuition or creative flair. Today, data plays a pivotal role. Content strategists often use KPIs, analytics, and data visualization tools to assess content performance, allowing for more focused and effective strategies.

Working with Cross-Functional Teams

Content doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s part of a broader business strategy. Content strategists frequently collaborate with departments like product development, customer service, and sales to create a cohesive brand story. Understanding how these functions align can be crucial for successfully implementing a content strategy.

Content Governance and Compliance

As the digital landscape gets more complex, so do the laws and regulations around online content. From GDPR to CCPA, content strategists must grasp what can and can’t be done digitally to protect the brand and its consumers.

The Growing Role of Video Content

While written content is vital, video content has become a game-changer in digital marketing. According to a report by Cisco, video will account for 82% of all internet traffic by 2022. Content strategists must have a good grasp of video production and storytelling techniques in the current era.

Sustainability and Social Responsibility

Consumers are increasingly interested in how brands contribute to social and environmental causes. A content strategist must know how to authentically integrate these topics into a brand’s narrative to attract a socially conscious audience.

User Experience (UX) and Content Strategy

Understanding UX principles is essential for creating content that informs and engages. Strategies such as creating persona-based content and focusing on mobile responsiveness are modern practices that content strategists should adopt.

The Agile Content Strategist

The traditional ‘set-and-forget’ methods of content strategy are becoming obsolete. Adopting agile methodologies involving iterative cycles and feedback loops can help content teams adapt to market changes more effectively.

Networking and Professional Development

Content strategists must stay updated with the latest trends, tools, and technologies in an ever-evolving industry. Engaging in webinars, workshops, and industry events can provide invaluable insights and networking opportunities.

Ethical Considerations in Content Strategy

Fake news, misinformation, and the ethical implications of content have come under scrutiny lately. Content strategists must be aware of their work’s broader impacts and strive for accuracy and transparency.

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 analytics, copywriting, and media planning. They should help you land a junior content strategist gig. Then you’re off to the races.

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