Content strategy

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Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content—written or in other media. The term is particularly common in web development since the late 1990s. It is a recognized field in user experience design, but also draws interest from adjacent communities such as content management, business analysis, and technical communication.


Content strategy has been described as "…the practice of planning the content creation, delivery, and governance."[1] and "a repeatable system that defines the entire editorial content development process for a website development project." [2]

In a 2007 article, Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data, Rachel Lovinger describes the goal of content strategy as using "…words and data to create unambiguous content that supports meaningful, interactive experiences." Here, she also provided the analogy "…content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design."[3]

The Content Strategy Alliance, the first international content strategy organization, combines Kevin Nichols'[4] definition with Kristina Halvorson's and defines content strategy as "Getting the right content to the right user at the right time through strategic planning of content creation, delivery, and governance."[5]

Many organizations and individuals tend to confuse content strategists with editors. Yet, content strategy is "about more than just the written word," according to Washington State University associate professor Brett Atwood. For example, Atwood indicates that a practitioner needs to also "consider how content might be re-distributed and/or re-purposed in other channels of delivery." [6]

Content marketing is often considered a sub-discipline of content management and strategy.[7] For instance, the purpose of content strategy has also been described as achieving business goals by maximizing the impact of content.[8] Further, content strategists should strive to achieve content that is readable and understandable, findable, actionable and shareable in all of its various forms.[9]

It has also been proposed that the content strategist performs the role of a tastemaker or curator. A museum curator sifts through the mass of content and identifies key pieces that can be juxtaposed against each another to create meaning and spur excitement. In her 2009 article, Erin Scime states that the content strategist as digital curator, "…approaches a business’s content as a medium that needs to be strategically selected and placed to engage the audience, convey a message, and inspire action."[10]

The definition of digital content itself has been changing with respect to media and publishing trends. Three key components of content are text, as touched on above, as well as photo and video. Photos can be displayed on publisher sites in multiple ways. Slide shows, click to enlarge, montages, and Pinterest-style are examples of ways photography can be delivered to the user. Videos can appear as a click to open a pop-up, or an embedded video player on the page itself. Choosing the still-image and thumbnails associated with videos is a content strategist's decision. The display of these elements on social media pages (Facebook walls, Twitter feeds, etc.) also falls within the realm of content strategy.[11]


An individual who practices content strategy as a discipline is referred to as a content strategist. Overall, all content strategists are familiar with a wide range of applications and tools, and frequently are responsible for implementing and training individuals to best use them. These skills and responsibilities allow dedicated content strategists to configure strategic policies, outreach, and metrics for the most effective use of content.[12] The perspectives that content strategists bring to content also depend strongly on their professional training and education.

For instance, some specialize in content analysis, which roughly describes work with metadata, taxonomy, search engine optimization, and the ways these concepts support content.

Others outline web editorial strategies, guidelines, and tools, which may extend to organizational change management. This form of content strategy may be concerned with developing new forms of content, such as multimedia, or various “presence management” technologies like microblogging.

There is yet another stream of content strategy advancing information architecture goals. In this case, content strategy may only involve writing site copy for new website pages and adapting the content on existing ones.



  1. Kristina Halvorson. "The Discipline of Content Strategy".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Sheffield, Richard (2009). The Web Content Strategist’s Bible, p.35. Cluefox Publishing, Atlanta. ISBN 978-1-4414-8262-4
  3. Rachel Lovinger. "Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data". Boxes & Arrows.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Kevin P Nichols and Anne Casson. "2013 SapientNitro Content Strategy Positioning" (PDF). Sapient, Inc.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Content Strategy Alliance Charter-Content Strategy Definition".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Brett Atwood. "Case Study: Content Strategy and Second Life".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Definitions of the Term: Content Marketing". MBO Web Services. Retrieved 30 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Contentini. "Content Strategists: What Do They Do?".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Content Marketing Institute. "Creating Valuable Content: An Essential Checklist".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Erin Scime (8 December 2009). "The Content Strategist as Digital Curator". A List Apart.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Robins, Will. "Content Strategy For Your Business". Dominant Link SEO. Retrieved 19 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Smith, James. "Content Strategy: Definitions, Uses and Metrics". WebMotion Media. Retrieved 4 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading