Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part series about the state of content based on highlights from Content Science’s annual webinar.
As professionals, we’re all finding a way to operate in a time of manic extremes. (Learn more about the content extremes and trends driving them in part one of this series.) The opportunities are bigger than ever before—and so are the challenges. My hypothesis is an evolved set of content principles can help leaders navigate, and I’m excited to share principles developed by the Content Science team and me…along with some smart quotes and handy examples.
But first, let me briefly share the theory driving this hypothesis.
I believe we’re operating in, or just after, something like a big content bang. Trends such as the technology booms and busts are forming new elements to build amazing content and experiences. The rise of Gen Z and acceleration of digital disruption are making content demand and opportunity expand rapidly. And, like the mysterious dark matter in our universe, there’s a dark side such as political extremism and competing visions of the web that’s being revealed as we go.
With that and the trends at work in mind, the Content Science team and I developed principles to respond.
Regardless of whether you play along with my theory, my intent is you find value in these 6 content principles. Use them alone or in combination to make the most of our current content state and mitigate the worst.
So, let’s take a closer look at each content principle.
Purpose means clarifying your organization or brand’s purpose while helping users achieve theirs. Pay attention to purpose this year because
I’ll share a brief example, starting with a question: What do Content Science and Patagonia have in common? If you answered we both like athleisure wear and to be outside, you would not be wrong. But what I want to point out is we both made the 2022 Inc Best in Business List. (To be fair, Patagonia made the tippity top of the list as Company of the Year.)
How could this happen? Because we both have purpose. Patagonia’s purpose has received widespread coverage over the past year, so I assume you’re familiar. I’ll briefly share the purpose of Content Science.
Experience the delight of enabling worthy organizations to make content make a constructive difference in how people feel, decide, act, and live.
That purpose has many implications. One is we fight disinformation and misinformation as best we can, such as
I’m excited about finding ways to do more. My point here is we do much more than pay lip service to our purpose, and that’s what your organization will need to do, too.
At the same time, companies will need to make content better meet its purpose for customers and employees. That means better understanding customer needs across end-to-end experiences, as VP Jerele Neeld of Dell explains.
Designing content fit for purpose and helpful to people at the moment of need remains critical every year. It will be so this year. Understanding how the consumerization of technology affects the expectations of business audiences and technology users (mobile-first of years prior, cloud computing model now, and AI and augmented/mixed reality of coming years) will remain a focus. Measuring the performance of all content types and deriving actionable insights that can be easily operationalized needs attention every year, and will again this year. Finally, doing an even better job of making our content easy to find and eliminating confusing and duplicative content will be a priority.
Personalization is probably not a new idea to you. But it becomes more important now as channels for promoting content change and even become unstable and Gen Z expects effective personalization in end-to-end experiences. What I want to emphasize here is the need to clean up the data driving personalization and structure the content to support it. In 2023, organizations will need to let go of some old ways of doing things because…
As a helpful example of both personalization and purpose, check out this case study by John Collins of Atlassian. And the good news is technology innovations such as customer data platforms, headless CMS, and advanced DAM fueled by artificial intelligence can help. I like how Senior Director Toni Mantych of ServiceNow articulated the potential in one of our recent conversations:
With companies and organizations continuing to prioritize enabling their customers and members to be self-sufficient, AI-driven predictive—and prescriptive—content will continue to be the holy grail, and a differentiator for customer experience. Organizations will continue to get better at proactively providing content based on user characteristics and other contextual parameters.
Learn more about content technology trends here.
By positioning, I mean making content easier to find and access. In a time of channel instability, more content than ever, and Google continuing to tune its algorithm to content quality and voice queries, your organization’s approach will need to evolve. In 2023…
And if Microsoft’s bid to make Bing competitive means Bing tunes more effectively to quality than Google, then all of the above will put you ahead on optimizing for Bing, too. (If Google is taking the competition seriously enough to launch a ChatGPT alternative, we should.)
For a useful example of improving content quality and structure for big impact, check out this case study with a home improvement retailer.
Perhaps somewhat ironically, optimizing the position of your content actually requires more strategy than ever. Take a cue from VP of Content Strategy Wade Coleman of Fiserv
As we enter a new year, the role of content strategy remains vitally important. We keep our organizations focused on people: educating, influencing and inspiring our audiences and organizations. Let’s welcome the robots and put them to work by making us better at creating meaningful value, not just more stuff.
Progression is about expanding your content strategy or set of strategies, maturing your content operations, and stepping up in leadership to support end-to-end experiences. This P will serve you well because if you work for a large or even a midsize organization…
In a recent conversation, VP of Content Marketing Center of Excellence Steven Pritt of Thomson Reuters hit on why aligning strategies must happen.
There is no doubt that content plays a crucial role in marketing, but lines are getting grayer where marketing begins and ends. Content must be interwoven in Marketing, CX (customer experience), and BX (brand experience), and it must all work together.
For more about what sets outstanding content leaders apart, I explore 3 key characteristics in this article. And if you’re interested in more about progression, I share 10 books to add to your reading list here.
Performance is about assembling and using content intelligence to make better content decisions faster. This principle is crucial not only because of the intense demand for content but also because of the pressure for realizing more value from content. In 2023…
We talk about measuring the effectiveness or impact of content often at Content Science Review. That’s because we study early adopters and have found a strong correlation between evaluating effectiveness and reporting both more content success and fewer content challenges.
For example, performance is a priority for 3 content leaders at AT&T, Jonelle Wilkinson-Seitz, Colby Phillips, and Meredith Deaver. And I love how they relate the value to important elements of purpose, such as being inclusive.
In challenging economic times, we see a growing focus on demonstrating the value of content in de-risking projects and driving ROI. With a new position in our organization and growing access to business analytics, we plan to build enterprise-level processes that drive cohesion and emphasize consistency. All while ensuring our content remains inclusive, in language and practice.
Now, let’s turn to the last P.
The sixth and final P is Partners. Lean across silos within your organization and work well with outside partners who are entrepreneurial because…
McKinsey’s Miklos Dietz recently observed that
Most ecosystems will not be ruled by one gigantic company…Most ecosystems will be orchestrated by a partnership with partners of very different roles. It is a multifaceted, multidimensional dance and choreography through which they find their natural roles.
I’ve considered closely what it means for Content Science to be a good partner—both with clients and with other amazing firms pushing for progression—because it’s part of why we earned that Inc Best in Business distinction. You can check out the best of those thoughts here. (Yes, there are Star Wars references.)
You also might find it useful to check out this diagram summarizing why content leaders connecting with innovative partners will create tremendous value now, which I shared at the recent Kontent Horizons event by Kontent.ai.
And, finally, consider whether your organization is being a good partner to your customers or audiences and how that can improve your content, as this quote from Pritt suggests
In 2023, B2B businesses will need to exhibit that they understand their customer’s needs, not simply talk about their needs through pain points in the content they create. Using content to showcase that a business genuinely understands their customers, not just their pain points, will see better engagement, trust, and loyalty because the customer will see you as a partner, not a supplier.
So, we have come to the end of the content principles. For more supporting data and examples of each one, check out the full State of Content webinar recording.
Thanks to a number of trends, we’re seeing the best and worst of content times. And that means both amazing opportunities and complex challenges for any organization with the courage to deal with content differently in 2023. The great news is you don’t have to go into the year unprepared or tackle it alone. By embracing the 6 content Ps, I’m confident you’ll expand the impact of your content and your career despite the inevitable obstacles. And I can’t wait to hear how far you go.
If you can build trust with your customers or audiences and your employees in a time of uncertainty, you will have an invaluable asset that will bring you precious returns.
It’s the best and worst of content times for content, from the potential of generative AI to the destruction of misinformation.
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