We’ve already covered how copy and content are different…but then, wouldn’t you know it, the business world goes and confuses the concepts by creating the term “content strategy.” What is it? What does a content strategist do? (And how does it differ from “content marketing?”) Read on…
Today’s question comes from Andre R. who asks, “When I’m looking for copy jobs online, I occasionally come across listings for ‘content strategists.’ What is that? Is that something I could do?”
As I alluded to earlier, “content strategy” is one of those occasions in which the general business world confuses content and copy. Copy, as you know, is wording that sells or persuades someone to take action. Content, on the other hand, is wording that entertains, inspires or educates. Copy is the wording on a company’s home page, content is the wording in their blog posts.
Content strategy, despite its name, actually has much more to do with copy than with content. In a nutshell, content strategy is the organization of copy around and across a site. This is the planning of where and how to use copy to best guide a visitor through a site (or through any online experience), as well as how to use that copy and the different interactions with it to help educate them and, eventually persuade them to buy.
Now, could content strategy involve content, as well? Sure—a site needs to plan where and how its content will be used to accomplish the above goals, too. By and large, though, content strategy is concerned with the copy on a website, micro site or online interaction.
But how does this differ from copywriting? Well, a good copywriter (which you are, of course) should already be thinking about how his or her copy on a single page or in a single email (or in any place) is part of the complete experience a user has. Using a webpage as an example, a good copywriter should already be considering the possible places a user could have come from to get to this page and the possible places they may go after this page. That’s a piece of content strategy right there.
A content strategist, though, is thinking of the big picture and actually planning what the messaging will be across the entire interaction. (Depending on this person’s role and the size of the company, they may or may not be doing the copywriting, as well.) Whereas the copywriter is considering a piece of the puzzle, the content strategist is considering and assembling the whole puzzle.
Content strategists are usually people who have a strong and extensive background in copywriting, paired with a solid grasp of user experience design and an understanding of technical possibilities and limitations.
Now, to add another layer—and, hopefully, clear up a bit more confusion—let’s add to this the term “content marketing.” Content marketing actually is related to content; in very broad terms, it’s the technique of creating and distributing relevant content to engage a target audience with a brand, hoping that this engagement will eventually lead to purchase.”
Content marketing is really the planning and, yes, strategy that goes into how content (and content only) is created and distributed to help support a company’s goals.
Copywriting is different from content strategy is different from content marketing. But yeah…they’re all just a little bit related. 🙂
Your turn! Have you worked with a content strategist in any of your jobs thus far? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!