My, how content strategy evolved during the past 12 months. In 2010 we spent our time talking about what content strategy was, while in 2011 we spent our time putting content strategy into action and then we kicked the tires and tried to figure out what made it work well, and what makes it fail. While digging through the archives, we uncovered a few common themes for content strategy in 2011.

User-Generated Content

User-generated content can be both an opportunity for marketers to learn more about their customers, and a challenge to effectively integrate and manage into marketing campaigns. Yet, as user-generated content morphs into a weird combination of citizen journalism and social media updates, companies don’t know exactly how to harness its influence. When it comes to content, UGC is not just about customers' reviews or comments; it's also about the words people use and how likely they are to show up on search engine result pages. While companies not only have to figure out how to engage customers for compelling contributions, they also need to strategize about how to manage the content that’s created beyond their branded communities.

Mobile Content Strategy 

It was a rough year for mobile content. Suddenly it seemed to matter more, due to the increased popularity and accessibility of mobile platforms and devices. As usual, most weren’t prepared to handle creating it, designing for it or managing it. Thanks to Ahava Leibtag and Simon Lande, we became better equipped to handle possible pitfalls and mistakes. Leibtag endorsed integrating user scenarios when creating mobile content, while Lande emphasized designing with user standards and expectations in mind.  Our most valuable lesson when it comes to developing a mobile content strategy? Design for the mobile user. It seems obvious, but for many it’s not. 

Customer Experience

In 2011, Stephen Fishman declared that data is the new content. What he meant, of course, was that while open data integration can provide endless streams of content and engagement, it really needs to be a strategic implementation, considerate of both the user and business reality. Stephen also reminded us that to deliver valuable customer experiences, we “must first examine and understand why customer and user experience domains exist within businesses.” Relying on data to define customers’ wants and needs doesn’t suddenly make CXM a scientific process. In fact, data serves to humanize and personalize the content created. Not to be outdone, Simon Landed inserted himself into the CXM content discussion when he asserted that “more will not be enough” and reminded us that, though content data may be plentiful, every web “experience” is precious, indeed.

Task Management

To preserve the value of every experience, we learned a few ways to better manage our content lifecycle. From business processes that set up effective controls for creating, publishing and preserving content to building the perfect content inventory tool, many critical pieces of the content strategy puzzle were coming together. We learned how to successfully design and conduct a website content audit to ensure that our content stays fresh and relevant.

Because 2011 gave us a solid foundation upon which to successfully create and execute our content strategies across platforms and expectations, 2012 promises to be even more exciting. We look forward to exploring the future of content strategy with you.