Time was digital content was a modest little thing – some lines of text, a few hyperlinks, a picture or two… We spoke in terms of email, websites and ‘above the fold’. SEO was a dark art and the big guns in the boardroom concerned themselves with turnover and market share.
But times, as they say, are a changing…
It’s hard to put your finger on when digital content first required a strategy; an overarching and constantly updated battle plan (and battle planner), that ensured all content was effective, current and measured in a way that delivered defined success objectives and attracted attention at director level.
Certainly the growth in digital content types and deployment opportunities (including the exponential growth of rich media and social media) were critical.
More types of content deployed in more ways.
- Once forlorn items such as sign up forms for long forgotten initiatives and email programmes, conceived when the ark ran aground, were given intense scrutiny, alongside increasing awareness that their structure and vocabulary could revitalise their use.
- Plus, managers and directors found themselves measured and an incentivised in ways that allowed the vast array of online data capture and analysis to be used as almighty carrots and sticks.
- Tactical and consecutive approaches: first we’ll build the website, then we’ll start an email programme, then we’ll ‘get a Facebook’… had to be replaced by strategic, concomitant and integrated programmes predicated on customer behaviours and business results.
Those involved in husbanding digital content raised their game or found themselves marginalised from both the key decisions and key meetings.
Content strategy as a path to the boardroom
There was also a generational thing at play. The baby Boomers grew up and… grew old. Many relinquished their hold on old style IT gladly. Generation X got to grips with the digital revolution but it’s Generation Y that’s figured out that content strategy, and digital content strategy specifically, can help pave their way to the top.
GenYers, aka Millennials, children of Baby Boomers, younger siblings of GenXers and born somewhere between 1978 and 1995, are a totally different workplace breed.
They’re ambitious and want their rewards fast. To get both, they need to be strategic – not tactical. Careers are being forged by saying the right, insightful stuff to the right person, not by remaining hidden behind a computer screen, bashing out the copy for the new social media push, or loading witty bons mots on to TweetDeck. So content strategy grew up – and it’s still growing.
But it’s also getting smaller… and flatter… and altogether more interesting:
- PC, laptop, notebook (briefly)
- smartphone, tablet, app, gesture, touch
- welcome to the new world.
The new revolution – and the power that comes with it
At the beginning of this article I mentioned when digital content first required a strategy, but that revolution is liable to look like the small coup in a teacup compared to what’s happening now.
It’s not just the nature of hand held devices and their touch and gesture interfaces, or the fact that users and their behaviours segue through multiple contexts during a single day:
- smartphone in the commuter crush, catching up on work emails
- office and PC (now loaded with OS 8.1) but with a lunchtime mobile sidebar in the park to check Tinder and order the groceries
- followed by wine and sofa watching view on demand telly (at least two shows on the go) via a TV screen/tablet combo.
It’s the fact that we’re increasingly integrating devices seamlessly into our lifestyles.
Time was, content strategists focussed on delivery mechanism. Now, it’s all about receptivity.
And it’s also about ambition.
Not only are your customers going hand held, but so is the board, senior management, HR, your line manager. They’re interfacing with digital in a way that they never have previously.
Boards are dishing out tablets like sherry and dispensing with paper. Digital KPIs are a critical part of the business plan. And GenY is closing its collective fist round the keys of the (his ‘n’ hers) executive toilet.
Your future is coming – and it’s getting small and more powerful by the minute.
We’ll discuss at least some of this in the revamped content strategy course I’m delivering for eMarketeers