Content Strategy and the Fine Art of Seducing Readers

Content strategy, as defined by Robert Stribley, “encompasses the discovery, ideation, implementation and maintenance of all types of digital content—links, tags, metadata, video, whatever.”  Of course, there are varying definitions and contradictions in opinion on this subject.  For instance, the standard definition of content strategy is, in the words of Kristina Halvorson, “planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.”  But Rahel Bailie contradicts that, contending that “content strategy deals with the planning aspects of managing content throughout its lifecycle, and includes aligning content to business goals, analysis, and modeling, and influences the development, production, presentation, evaluation, measurement, and sunsetting of content, including governance. What content strategy is not is the implementation side. The actual content development, management, and delivery is [sic] the tactical outcomes of the strategy that need to be carried out for the strategy to be effective.”

So, how do you draw readers in, lure them to come back to your blog or website and share it?  Online content strategy is a tricky subject, one that requires a particular balance of various factors.  These depend on your target audience and the nature of your posts, but overall, there are certain guidelines which one can follow to increase readership and ensure that you garner loyal readers, ones who will read your posts regularly and potentially share them with the people that they know.

content strategies

Engage Your Readers

For any content to become popular, it has to be engaging – no one is going to take interest in a badly written article about a dull subject.  This is not to say that one cannot write about the mundane, but rather, that one cannot be mundane when writing about it.  So engage your readers, make them interested in your article, and they’ll likely come back for more.  And if they like your content, then they’re more likely to share it with friends through social media. Don’t bore your audience with meaningless drivel – instead, find ways to capture their imagination.

Link Within

Another strategy, utilized by Wikipedia, is creating a massive number of links within a particular article to other posts on your site.  This encourages readers to explore, thus increasing traffic.  It also captivates their interest for longer, and their memory.  Hardly anyone remembers a blog for a single post. But if a post leads to other interesting posts within the website, then a reader will likely stick around.  And if they stick around, they tend to remember your site.  So exploit internal links, and if you intend to be resourceful, toss in a few external ones to relevant subjects.  If you’ve created a useful hub of information, you’ll have people return for more.

Be Concise

Be informative and concise.  No one wants to sift through a lengthy blog post about something that could have been written about in a single paragraph.  Tell your readers what they want to know, in a straightforward manner, and they’ll be able to appreciate your content.  Send them on a winding path through useless information, and they’ll hate you for it – and probably never read your blog again.

Personalize

Personalize your posts.  It’s difficult to write a generalized article for an anonymous audience that you’ve never met.  Think about a particular reader, imagine them as a person, not just some consumer of content.  Either take someone you know and mould a reader around them, or create a fictional persona – either way, it’s far easier to try and write to please someone in particular than it is to word vomit about a particular subject to the entirety of the web.  Imagine what Mark Twain would think of your blog post about coconut graters – would it engage him?  If the answer is no, then you have a bit of work to do.

Be Accessible

Be accessible.  If you write a blog post on how to house-train a puppy, no one wants an academic study of the evolutionary biology of canis lupus familiaris. You need to approach your audience with language and terminology that they would understand. Write in a way that won’t be off-putting to the casual reader.  It’s important to keep in mind that the internet is the medium of consumption for most content.  And for our sake, the average internet user has the attention span of a four-year-old combined with the reading level of a sixth grader.  So write things in such a manner that people can understand, not as if you’re submitting an article for some academic journal.  Don’t drive away your audience by alienating them.

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