How content strategy got hijacked by content marketing

To market, to market, to buy a fat pigA funny thing happened on the way to establishing content strategy as a legitimate career path and professional role: the phrase got hijacked by content marketers.

Google sends me a weekly alert with 10 articles or blogs using the phrase content strategy

I notice the writers often use content strategy to mean content creation, web writing, content curating, SEO or social media marketing.

Above all, the phrase is frequently used as a synonym for content marketing or content marketing strategy

To me the change of meaning reflects an attitude that has dominated life on the internet since 1995.

"Don't talk to me about boring things like governance, planning, management and workflow. Don't tell me I should clean up my landfill of redundant, trashy and toxic content. Just show me a profit by lunchtime!"

Well, that's human beings for you. That's language for you, always on the change. 

Actually, that's life on planet Earth. I'd better get over it.

Some still use content strategy in the original sense

Brutal Pixie's definition: 

A Content Strategist helps a business to analyse its existing content and existing resourcing and workflows, and works with a business to put in place tools and plans that make content creation easier and more effective [...]'s definition:

Content strategy focuses on the planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content.

A strange definition of content strategy: apparently strategy is content

Coursera course on Content Strategy for Professionals:

Content Strategy is credible, trustworthy, transparent content that enhances the organization’s strategic goals.

Many writers use content strategy interchangeably with content marketing strategy

Creative content marketing strategy: 5 hot tips for business owners (Business2Community)

Image: from Wikimedia, in the public domain.



Feb 19, 2014 • Posted by Rachel McAlpine

Good points, Josie! And behind the scenes, first generation content strategists continue to do great work. The classic content strategist’s brief is so broad that their work is extremely varied. Oh well, I’m glad that marketers see the need to tackle every aspect of their content with respect. Hm, what if non-commercial organisations did the same? Government agencies and NGOs, for instance..

Feb 19, 2014 • Posted by Rachel McAlpine

David, that is more confirmation that the original meaning of the phrase is now beyond retrieval. The new meaning, or rather meanings, are hugely popular. Today my Google alert for “content strategy” fed me 12 new items about content marketing strategy. A year ago, it would alert me to one or two articles or discussions about content strategy in the broad sense. The upside is that high quality, original, purposeful, targeted content seems finally to be appreciated as an asset.

Feb 07, 2014 • Posted by David Farbey

I do agree with you. As a technical communicator I understand content strategy in the context of Ann Rockley’s “Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy”. But now when I go to events here in London that are advertised as being about “content strategy” the speakers and exhibitors are mainly from digital marketing agencies. I get the feeling that some of them rather look down on us mere mortals who plan, write, and manage content to meet our users’ needs!

Jan 24, 2014 • Posted by Josie B

Interesting piece Rachel. I thought it would depend on Bruce PIxie’s definition of what the “analysis” of the existing content is about – is it strictly about looking at sentence structure and design, or is it about actually looking at the words, images, video and other content? I think the two should be inseparable, as there is no point having well-produced content if it is off-message for the organisation :))

A Content Strategist helps a business to analyse its existing content and existing resourcing and workflows, and works with a business to put in place tools and plans that make content creation easier and more effective […]

I’d suggest that the content strategy has to, in some ways, work with the strategic marketing direction of the organisation. I think that’s why it’s got pushed into the marketing space.

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