The Content Strategy Forecast: 2010 & Beyond

Matt Geraghty   March 4, 2010


The Breakdown: For our first anniversary post, we invited practicing content strategists from inside and outside of Razorfish to share their thoughts on emerging trends and ideas in content strategy. Enjoy!

Jeffrey MacIntyre
, Principal, Predicate, LLC
Going Mainstream
Within our field I foresee a definite turn ahead: less “why” and more “how.” The UX community has by and large taken the memo–content matters–but if the message is to stick, the next turn among our foremost practitioners should be to begin demonstrating deliverables, methodology and our measurable post launch value. Which is perfect timing for Paul Ford to inaugurate the first-ever course in content strategy at the School of Visual Arts in New York come January. No pressure, Paul!

Karen McGrane, Senior Partner, Bond Art + Science
Taking Action
For many businesses, content strategy is still in the awareness phase. They’re realizing they have a problem, and they’re considering different options for how to deal with it. Over the next two years, we’ll see more businesses decide that they need to change. Companies will take action, by improving processes to evaluate and maintain content quality, and by empowering content strategists within the organization. As a result, users will get a better experience, and companies will start to reap the business rewards of content strategy. But the first step that most need to take now is admitting they have a problem.

Ian Alexander, VP of Content, Eat Media
Converging with CMS and Web Strategy
Content management and content strategy will find greater synergies. This merging of technical and editorial will give CS broader outreach at the CMS and IT level. The complex interdependencies of content strategy will embrace search strategy at the pattern level and how a site is found will not just be about SEO. “Web strategy” will become synonymous with “content strategy” and in doing so, CS will gain broader acceptance.

Bob Maynard, Content Strategist, R/GA
Beyond the Web
If 2009 was the year content strategy broke, then maybe 2010 will be the year we fix it. I’d like to think that we’ll move beyond the web-centric content strategy hype cycle and into a more fertile period of collaboration with mobile app developers, tech architects and digital signage designers. While we’re at it, let’s kill the “content matrix” and see what happens. Who’s with me?

Laura Porto Stockwell, Senior Director, Digital Strategy at WONGDOODY
Paid Content
What is top of mind for me the past few months is the resurgence of talk about gated/paid content communities. We saw so much of this 10+ years ago, and due to the economy and the financial challenges of media we are seeing it again. While this is a business decision in many ways, there is a strong content strategy component. A content strategist can help an organization understand user needs from a content perspective and therefore help craft a plan for what types of content would be most successful in a pay-per-view situation. In addition, a content strategist can help an organization better package and deliver existing content in ways that users want to interact with it (whether paid or not).

Mary S. Butler, Senior Content Strategist, Razorfish, Editor of Headlightblog.com
Social Media Marketing
The explosion of social media has been a significant contributor to increased interest in content strategy. As smart marketers realize the benefits of connecting with and engaging consumers via social channels, as opposed to treating social as a broadcast outlet, they are more likely to experience the pain associated with not having a content strategy in place. Effectively executing a brand social strategy requires an editorial plan, dedicated resources and aligning your messaging with business objectives and meeting consumer needs and goals. As brands move more of their marketing spend to social, we are going to see content strategy become even more prominent.

Rachel Lovinger, Content Strategy Lead, Razorfish
Multiplatform Delivery
Most people who know me will probably expect me to say something about the Semantic Web. Of course I’ll be keeping an eye on what happens there, but I’ve been tracking that for years so it doesn’t seem right to call it a new trend. I think the new thing that Content Strategists should be thinking about is delivering content to different devices. How do you optimize content for a growing number of smartphones, tablets, networked TVs, etc.? Not only the format of the content, but streamlining the process of creating all the content assets. And of course you can’t just take the same content, reformat it and push it out to each type of device. Savvy Content Strategists will be thinking about how to create new content products that take advantage of the strengths of each new platform.

Colleen Jones, Principal, Content Science
Influence
Staring into my crystal ball, I foresee the rise in demand for influential content. Many have talked about possibilities for “persuasive” content and technology. Turning those possibilities into realities will be the trend. Businesses will press the interactive industry for content that resonates with people. Content strategists will deliver by weaving editorial, data-driven, and social content together into an experience that influences people’s decisions and behaviors.

Michael Barnwell, Content Strategy Lead, Razorfish
Relevance and Filtering
An arms race has been building within content strategy. As powerful aggregation tools proliferate so too do tools meant to segregate content. The Cloud, feeds, and social sharing tools are delivering more and more content, while semantic tools and sentiment analysis mining are arrayed to counter that expansionist threat. The net effect, of course, shouldn¹t aim at zero sum. Content Strategists will be called upon to become expert in the diplomatic act of negotiating both of these tool sets so that a useful set of relevant content remains.

Kristina Halvorson, CEO/Founder, Brain Traffic
Ubiquitous and in High Demand
2010 is the year every agency will be racing around trying to figure out what the hell content strategy is and why their clients are suddenly demanding it. By the end of the year, it won’t be an optional service on web projects: it will be the most-requested service. 2011 will see content strategy tools and methodologies working their way into other areas of our organizations. New alignments will emerge between previously-siloed departments and functions, focusing on the creation, delivery, and governance of content enterprise-wide. Also, Conan O’Brien will be running for president.

Matthew Geraghty, Content Strategist, Razorfish
The CS Buzz
2010 and 2011 is going to be all about how we communicate as a content strategy community. It’s important to discuss trends and what the next big thing is, but let us not forget that it ultimately comes down to the community — the talent and vision of people like the ones who are submitting to this post. Creative collaboration, idea sharing, new methods of fostering talent, celebrating successes, and spreading the CS word individually and collectively. Let’s look for new and innovative ways to creatively connect, collaborate and communicate to fuel the CS buzz.

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6 Responses

  1. Jim says:

    Awesome

  2. Jeri Hastava says:

    Thanks for the insight from an incredible lineup of practitioners. Your article is just the ticket for our fledgling SF Content Strategy Meetup group.

  3. Erin Scime says:

    This survey was a great idea. To add to what Kristina was saying about content strategy being in high demand this year – I totally agree. Almost out of nowhere, clients started including it in RFPs and in some cases, sharing some of the preliminary work they’ve done including inventories and audits. The next two years are going to be amazing indeed! Great insights!

  4. […] The Content Strategy Forecast: 2010 & Beyond en el blog de Scattergather de Razorfish The Breakdown: For our first anniversary post, we invited practicing content strategists from […]

  5. Melua Watson says:

    Thanks everyone! I nodded all the way down the page, but especially at Karen McGrane’s post. My experience of working in content development in New Zealand for the past five years echoes her observation – content strategy has been in the too hard basket for too long. The onus is on web writers, IAs, and strategists to talk about content strategy so much it just becomes the standard.

  6. Shelly Bowen says:

    Content strategy predicted to see more elaboration, action, empowerment, alignment, and acceptance? Hooray!

    I love what Rachel says about streamlining the process of and optimizing the content for multiple devices. I agree whole-heartedly. In my experience, companies are delivering more sophisticated and innovative services and products each year. These companies are also aggregating more and more content. The need for strategy to keep all this diverse content effective is bigger than ever. So, Yes! I also agree with Kristina. The demand for content strategy is ready for a growth spurt worthy of stretch marks.

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