People® magazine recently dubbed Blake Shelton the sexiest man alive, sparking a huge (and comical) controversial debate. Regardless of where you fall in this argument, I feel confident that by the end of this article you’ll agree with me that content strategy documentation is quite a bit sexier than the country music star.
Last month, I blogged about a content strategy documentation workshop I attended through a local content strategy group called RVA Content Strategy. After I started writing, I realized there was way too much valuable information from the workshop to fit into one blog, so decided to break it up into two articles. If you haven’t already, check out Why Content Strategy Documentation is Sexy: Part 1 to catch up on what went down in part one of Sara Zailskas Walsh’s presentation. Part 1 established why content strategy documentation is important. In part 2 I’ll address what needs to be captured in your content strategy documentation and ways to capture it.
What Needs To Be Captured
Before anything else happens, your content strategy statement must be written down. Your content strategy statement is a sentence or two about how you’ll use content to meet user and business needs. This statement can cover an entire website, or a single page or campaign. You also need to include guidelines for creating the content and how to maintain the content once it’s developed.
When talking about content, quality trumps quantity every time. So how do you know that you’re creating quality content? The answer is setting key performance indicators, or KPIs. KPIs could be the number pageviews, average session duration, or the engagement on social media your content receives, among others. After you decide what metrics signal quality content, you must assign different parts of your content strategy to members of your team to balance the workload.
Ways To Capture It
So that’s a lot of moving parts. Sara then shared a strategy for capturing all of this information in five different documents.
Capture your content strategy statement, mission, and purpose in a high-level overview document. This is where you document whom you’re creating content for, what you want the end users of your content to get out of it, high-level business requirements, necessary elements to your strategy, and those lovely KPIs we were talking about. Create these documents after your discovery work from part 1 and analysis but before you start creating content. It’s a great exercise to check your content strategy’s alignment with your business goals across teams before getting into the content creation process.
In your content requirements document, restate your content strategy statement before listing specific elements that your content solution should include. Make sure you give enough direction for a designer or content creator so that they understand what the solution should accomplish.
Time to get into the weeds of the project. This document includes details about the content strategy of a project to help someone creating or maintaining the content. Although it might seem repetitive, restate the content strategy statement, mission, and purpose of the project. Each document addressed in this article should be in alignment with the others, but also be able to serve as a stand-alone document.
Complete this document during the post-design phase as a means of handing off and training whoever will be implementing and maintaining your strategy and design. For example, if the project is a page on your website, the guidelines document includes what should be in each section of the page: headings, featured lists, images, sidebars, menus, etc.
The writing guidelines document answers the question, “What makes the organization’s writing unique?” It might initially start out as a one or two page Google Doc, but over time it evolves into a full style guide for your brand. This piece of your content strategy documentation guides the writers and anyone editing content to make sure your brand and “voice” is unified across all channels. Members of your organization outside of the marketing and design departments should be invited to collaborate, borrow, and share the writing guidelines document to encourage content cohesiveness.
Workflow or Process Maps
Utilize workflow or process diagrams to illustrate how your content strategy fits into an existing process. It’s great for figuring out how teams work on technical projects. Once you have the workflow or process map created, aligning your team with business requirements, forming new teams, or dealing with a change in management will be a more streamlined endeavor.
The second part of the RVA Content Strategy meeting was squeezed into the last fifteen minutes, because a two-hour workshop is just not enough time to cover the content strategy documentation process. It’s just too sexy. Fortunately Sara shared her slide deck which went into greater detail about what needs to be captured in your content strategy documentation and how to capture it, so that was a great resource for writing this blog.
So on a scale of 1 to “Content Strategy Documentation,” how sexy is Blake Shelton? That should be the real question internet trolls are debating.
Olivia Deputy is the Director of Content Marketing at Xponent21. Our company engineers digital experiences that delight, drive revenue, and increase operational efficiency. If you want a knowledgeable and reliable partner to help with planning, developing, executing, and documenting(!) your content strategy, reach out to us.