We all know the six W’s of a good story: who, what, why, when, where and how. Together, they tell the whole tale. Together, also, taken in a slightly different order, these six questions can lead us to a content strategy for the web.
Why? – business case
Before we can have content strategy, we must have a reason for the site(s) to exist. Identifying the business drivers provides the baseline upon which all else is built. Once we know the purpose, direction is provided for all that follows.
What? – types of information to exchange
The answer to this question falls out, largely, from the business drivers. A web property is a means of communication. Something must be intended to be exchanged for it to exist. There are concepts of information pushed, and perhaps pulled. Stories, ideas, sales promotions, feedback, user details. Understand the full picture of the exchange.
Who? – with whom to communicate
Now that we have the definition of the web property, and what is being communicated through it, we need to know with whom we are holding this conversation. What groups of people make up the audience; the other parties to the conversation? Understanding your audience drives the tone of your communication.
Where? – communication channels
Web properties are more than just a site; they are branded domains: partly on the site, partly within social channels, partly through other channels. Identifying where all sides of the conversation will take place – knowing also where it will not go – provides a landscape within which to operate. it defines the structural nature of each part of the conversation.
How? – required information structure
With the same audience, we do not communicate in the same way on Twitter as we do on our primary site. The types of information defined above need to be refined, broken down into their constituents, as they apply in conversations with each audience across each channel. As an example, a blog post alone can have at least four “bodies”: the real one, the RSS teaser, the listed summary, the tweet. Then there is the title, and the meta-description. Document the detailed structure of all content types, as they will be delivered across all your channels.
When? – creation and maintenance process
Lastly, define the workflows surrounding your content. What is the timeline? When does content need to be created – not just for day one, but as the property evolves over time? Who curates it? How should it be retired? What are the triggers?
There you have it. Six simple questions – the six W’s – to develop the basics of a content strategy.