Andrew Bredenkamp, acrolinx
Reprinted from Andrew Bredenkamp’s blog

At the risk of annoying a lot of people, I would like to throw a bit of scepticism at the current trending discussion about “Content Strategy”. A lot of the discussion (for instance this from the web content angle, or this with technical publications glasses on) seems to centre around what exactly content strategy is.

Well, I think I can safely say what it is not. It isn’t a site map or even a web content plan of any kind. Neither is it a list of formats which we intend to publish to. It seems that we are running the risk of doing the same thing we did with Knowledge Management—which sounds great in theory, but nowadays generally means adding metadata to Word documents (I’m exaggerating only a little).

No, a content strategy worth it’s salt would encompass not just web content (by all means develop a web content strategy as part of your content strategy!), but all enterprise content—yes, really a strategy about which content your organization *as a whole* needs to create and how you are going to deliver it to your customers. In fact, come to think of it, it should just be your content but all the content which is relevant to you—even if you didn’t create it.

Spontaneously I can think of at least eight different dimensions to serious enterprise content strategy:

1. Engineering content standards (Impact of content on UX)
2. Information delivery plan (OK, so you do need to think about file formats in fact)
3. Web content strategy (which of our content is on the web, what is available to whom, etc.)
4. Localization strategy (what gets translated and, just as important, what how do customers find content that doesn’t get translated)
5. User Generated Content Strategy (our forums, third-party content about our products)
6. SEO Strategy (keyword research and content optimization, at least)
7. Marketing and Branding strategy (are you ensuring branding and key differentiators across all your content?)
8. Content risk management strategy (What are the risks? How are they mitigated?)

One could write a book about any one of these (people have), but my point is that unless you include all of these dimensions in a coordinated strategy, then you don’t really have a enterprise content strategy—you simply have one aspect of it. With a genuine enterprise view of things, the idea of a consistent high-quality user experience with your products can become a reality.

Andrew Bredenkamp is CEO of acrolinx, a software company. He has been working in global information development in one form or another for over 20 years. Firstly in translation, then research and finally as a technologist.