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What Does a Content Strategist Do?

Content strategist is a bona fide job title, at least, according to GlassDoor and LinkedIn. But just like management consultant, experience director, and Chief Visionary Officer, the words carry a level of vagueness that falls short of explaining what the job actually entails.

Content remains the ruler of the digital marketing land, which is why it’s helpful to have someone on hand who knows how to leverage it. This person, also known as a content strategist, is responsible for helping to develop and employ your content to reach your company’s goals.

And a whole bunch of other stuff.

Take a look at what a typical day in the life of a content strategist looks like:

Establish Order from Entropy

Companies partner with content strategists (or hire an internal one) because they need to give their content form and function. Content strategists are well-versed in organizing content management systems, collaboration tools, and other processes to help companies make sense of their content.

They’ll establish an editorial calendar, make it easy to archive videos, blogs, and white papers into searchable databases, and work with upper-level execs to provide food for thought on content goals.

They audit existing content to see what needs fixing and what needs tossing. Most importantly, they’ll determine what needs to be created, and by who, when, and where it needs to be placed to maximize its purpose. Depending on the size and budget of the organization, this could include any of the following:

  • Research
    • Competitor Analysis
    • SEO Research
    • Content Inventory
    • Personas
    • User Feedback
  • Editorial Strategy
    • Brand Guidelines
    • Style Guides
    • Idea Development
    • Editorial Calendar
    • Role Assignment
  • Management
    • Establish Systems and Processes
    • Content System Architecture
  • Production
    • Content Creation
    • Writing
    • Editing
    • Image Sourcing
    • Tagging
    • SEO
    • Fact Checking
    • Distribution
  • Promotion
    • Publishing
    • Paid Advertising
    • Analytics Evaluation
    • Syndication

Truthfully, a content strategist should be capable of performing all of the above, and will likely have their hands involved in every part of your strategy at some point.

Take Your Content Beyond SEO

Granted, SEO content is important, but that’s not everything a content strategist must think about. Content strategists pair the important elements of SEO, like links, keywords, headers, and meta data, with substance, context, and opportunity to hit their targets.

There’s an art to writing for humans and robots, both of which are going to be reading your content. However, if your content fails to engage the human reader with real insights, mobile optimization, and a prime visual experience, it won’t matter if your robot audience finds it or not.

Focus on Big Picture Goals By Achieving Incremental Goals

Content strategists are well-versed in how content works, but they keep their sights on what happens after the content wheel is set into motion.

What’s the point of creating content, anyway? It’s not to get likes and shares on Facebook, or drive people to your website, or talk about your company’s dozen awards achieved this year. Yes, content can do all of these things, but the purpose in content touting these claims is to drive your company’s profits.

Content strategists don’t create content for the sake of having content. Rather, there is a defined purpose and goal behind every piece of content attached to a company. It might be to create brand awareness, or build a Facebook following, or pump up the numbers on an email list, or a host of other incremental goals that will eventually translate into profitability.

The Master Skills Every Content Strategist Should Have

Content strategists may sound like the demi-gods of digital marketing. They take visions and ideas and transform them into monetizing actions that are part of a complex network of other actions. And no matter how vague or mystical the job title sounds, it’s not for the weak of mind.

Every content strategist worth his or her salt has mastered the art of organization, knowing how to connect each element to other appropriate elements. They’re ninjas at establishing processes and systems that easily scale as a business evolves. They’re storytellers, branding experts, master marketers, researchers, managers, leaders, analysts, writers, editors, designers, financial experts, and sometimes even coders, all rolled up into one tidy package.

That said, there’s probably one thing that your content strategist can’t do —execute your strategy alone. Given their massive responsibilities, content strategists rely on delegation to ensure that no element is overlooked or underutilized. They’re doers to the core, but they’re also thinkers and sharers, which means they rely on your team to handle task work so they can focus on the larger picture.

In Closing

Simply put, content strategists are often the saving grace to a content-fueled disaster. Companies who try to navigate the content world with zero experience may find themselves broken down on the side of the digital highway wondering what went wrong and how they can fix it.

But you never have to wait until you’re at that point to hire a professional content strategist. If you’re in the beginning stages of developing a content marketing strategy, you might find that using a content strategist from the onset can help you avoid making costly mistakes and start enjoying the benefits of your content quickly and for a longer period of time.

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