As the year winds down and we look to a new one, I hope you’re making ambitious plans for your content. If so, you need a vision for content at your organization. (I share three reasons to create a content vision here. ) In trying to define your content vision, you might wonder, “What makes a content vision good, or even awesome?”
To help answer that question, I’m sharing six characteristics of an effective content vision based on my experience and our research at Content Science. And they just happen to spell out VISION…
Out of the ordinary
Let’s walk through these characteristics briefly.
Content planning can be rather conceptual and abstract. So, your content vision must be descriptive, something that your team, your executives, and your stakeholders can easily understand and even visualize. One way to start that description is to think about your content as a trusted advisor. I explain in Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content a few possibilities to inspire ideas in different industries. For example, if you work in the food and beverage industry, a potential starting point for your content vision might be an enthusiastic chef or a health-conscious nutritionist.
Your content vision doesn’t have to be an anthropomorphization. I’ve partnered with clients to define vision summaries such as “gateway to untapped knowledge” and “thriving digital hub connecting the right users with personalized facts, information, and stories” and “world-class media integrated into our members’ day-to-day workflow.” And, our vision for Content Science Review is to be the Harvard Business Review of content. Those descriptions all have worked, too. Your description will be different, of course, but what matters is making it vivid enough for people to start visualizing.
Your vision isn’t to prevent typos. Your vision isn’t to produce more video. Your content vision is something meaningful to your organization and your team and something ambitious enough that people will be motivated to put in extra effort to achieve it.
For example, maintaining a company blog just wasn’t motivating enough for us, especially me, at Content Science to do an excellent job. However, aspiring to be the Harvard Business Review of content to change the world was. Within a few months of launching this online magazine, we exceeded our initial goals for traffic. And, today we’re publishing our own insights about broad and deep topics and research and exciting contributions from leading companies around the globe such as Alibaba, Dun and Bradstreet, WebMD, The Coca-Cola Company, AirBnB, and more. What’s more, Content Science Review has already won four awards and is a finalist for more. A year ago , if you told me we would achieve so much so quickly, I would have chuckled. My point here is you, your team(s), and your stakeholders can achieve more than you think possible with an inspirational and significant content vision.
Make your content vision a unique idea that catches on easily. Ideally, your content vision is a concept that people within your organization—and maybe even outside of it—can “get” quickly and discuss enthusiastically. And, I believe no two organizations should have the exact same content vision. Marriott, for instance, has been clear that it wants to be the Red Bull of travel and hospitality. What will the content visions for other hotel and travel companies be? Would it be a good idea to try and also be the Red Bull of travel? Probably not. I think their visions should be something quite different from Marriott. And I think they need to be working hard on their content visions and strategies before they miss serious opportunities.
Finally, think of your content vision as a north star. Make your vision act as a guiding light throughout the craziness of managing the change and effort to achieve your vision. When stakeholders or team members start to doubt or they start to suggest activities that don’t fit your content roadmap, you have your vision to lead everyone back to the right focus.
As an example, Carrie Hane Dennison led a web transformation at American Society for Civil Engineers. We talked with her about the secrets to her success , and she coined a term that cracks me up—strategically nagging. What did Denson meant by that? The importance of reminding everyone involved of their goals and focus. So, your content vision is a north star that will help you strategically nag until your vision becomes reality.
So, these six characteristics will help you cultivate a vision for your content that is ambitious, motivating, and clear. If you take the time to do so, don’t be surprised if next year at this time you look back and think, “Wow. We achieved even more than we dreamed possible.” And I can’t wait to hear about your achievements.
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