Content Strategy Is All About CLARITY

Content strategists do many things, wear many hats. We may have different job titles, different duties each day. But really, what we do is simple. Content strategists provide clarity. It’s my chief deliverable, really. Not an audit. Not a set of content templates. Not even an editorial calendar entry. It’s clarity.

Clarity for content creators

Content creators do their best work when they approach their work with clarity. When they have a clear picture of their audience, business goals, and the content’s eventual home, good things happen.

Editorial calendars provide a clear plan for the coming weeks and months. Without them, content creators may scramble to find the right ideas. Channels start to languish. Stress builds, deadlines mount. The production cadence may soon assume haphazard status. NO ONE WANTS HAPHAZARD STATUS. Editorial calendars might take the form of a deliverable, but what they really deliver is clarity.

Content audits are the same. They provide insight (which is a form of clarity) into what needs work and what works well. Is the content accurate? Is it still on message? Is it complete and up to current standards? The audit will tell you. The audit is often a spreadsheet. It delivers details. It delivers CLARITY.

You’ll never guess what style guides can do. Provide clarity, you say? WELL DONE, FRIEND. Style guides help content creators articulate a brand’s personality or an organization’s value proposition in a consistent, easily-referenced fashion. Clarity.

Clarity for content managers

If your job involves the evaluation, maintenance, governance, or all-around wrangling of content at any place along the way, I’m willing to bet that you enjoy clarity, too. Each of these duties require guidelines and standards–the clearer, the better.

Publishing content online (on your site, a third-party partner’s database, a social media platform, etc.) goes smoothly when content managers know the ins-and-outs of each channel. Some of them have quirks, unique needs. Different inputs, outputs, viewports, devices accessing. Make these requirements known and declare their importance. Provide this, and you’ve provided clarity.

Clarity for leadership

Do you know who else enjoys clarity? Leadership. Leadership of all sorts and strata. They’re often tasked with articulating the efforts of content strategists when the time comes to fund projects to improve a content experience. When they have a solid content strategy in their hands and on their screens, they’ll have clarity.

Those same folks in leadership positions need to understand the importance of content. They’re often ultimately responsible for the outcomes of content marketing- and content strategy-related efforts. They want to know returns on investment. Performance and efficiency. They must know how content helps their bottom line. Keen ears and minds await. The clarity of content strategy is on the scene, know what I mean?

Clarity for consumers

Call them users, visitors, consumers, or whatever. The people that come to your online presence. They do not want a muddled, difficult experience. They want simplicity, ease-of-use, and delightful experiences. THEY WANT CLARITY.

Can they accomplish what tasks they set out to accomplish? Can they find a product or service? Can they do it without wading through tons of fluffy marketing jive, or press releases, or mission statements, or outdated information? Yes? Then you’ve provided CLARITY.

Clarity for ALL

There you have it. *cue Oprah Winfrey free car meme* You get clarity, and you get clarity. EVERYONE GETS CLARITY. (Clarity, not bees. Sorry for any nightmares from the above gif.)

I’m Clinton Forry. I’m a content strategist. I PROVIDE CLARITY.

Five Ways to Save Your Video Content from Devouring Itself

Video content poses unique challenges to content marketers, content managers, and content strategists. Especially since it is often hosted on constantly evolving, proprietary platforms. The incorporation of outside links in YouTube videos is a fine, current example.
Search and content have a long, dysfunctional history. Search algorithms change to address unsavory content practices. New unsavory content practices pop up to exploit newfound vulnerabilities. This cycle continues, and will, for the foreseeable future.

These algorithm adjustments also apply to video content. I happened upon an article on ReelSEO, written by Chris Atkinson, detailing the introduction of including outside links on YouTube videos, and its potential search and content implications.

(These platform-specific announcements are especially important to we content folks, as they often have a direct impact on the whats and hows of our content delivery.)

Link to anything you fancy

Link placement within videos has been an option for years. Up to this point, YouTube has limited the nature of those links to other YouTube videos, YouTube channels, or fundraising appeals. Most recently, they added “merch” as an option for channel owners to link to YouTube-approved retail sites like iTunes, GooglePlay, etc.

Now, the floodgates are open. Links to any site are now allowed on any YouTube video. Gone are the days of only placing a link in the video description area. CUE THE PARTY HORNS. Sort of.

Some video content creators will abuse this. I guarantee it. Others will link to too many things in a video, causing confusion. We’ll see videos so laden with links, calls-to-action, and more that your old GeoCities page will seem like a serene utopia in comparison. Link to the Facebook page! Visit this microsite! Fill out this email signup form! LINKS!11

Start by creating great video content

The best case scenario here sees content creators using the in-video link option to focus their channel-specific video messaging even further. We want to provide the best content experience possible, links clicked, Watch Time, and otherwise. How do we do that with video?

  1. Create content that people want to watch. Think palatable, not gimmicky. Effective and straightforward trumps trying-to-be-funny or attempted-edgy on most occasions.
  2. Make content clear and concise. Make your point in as few seconds as possible. Be directly helpful. PEOPLE LOVE THAT. A shorter video makes the link placement have less of an SEO impact. It’s easier to watch a shorter video, from a life-expectancy point-of-view, too.
  3. Focus on a single topic, concept, or task. The linear presentation of a video and its (new) links precludes an easy message hierarchy. Stick to a single message, and don’t try to do to many things at once. Otherwise, you’re likely lose your audience on all of the things in frustration and confusion.
  4. Give it context. Resist the urge to start off videos with a Ken Burns-style mini-documentary about the company. Instead, give them the background they need to make use of the rest of the video. If your messaging is consistent, this context should flow easily from one platform to the next.
  5. Tell the story. Use a video’s linear constraints as a force for good. Take advantage of it with an equally-linear storyline. Beginning, middle, end. Even if it is a :30 second piece. To quote Steve Martin’s character Neil Paige from the holiday travel film, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”: “When you are telling these little stories, here’s a good idea: Have a point.”

Place the link carefully

The ReelSEO article touched on another important part of this equation: inclusion of a “Watch Time” variable as a metric used in SEO. In other words, the longer a viewer watches your video, the better your stature in search results.

The Watch Time metric will be a considerable challenge for some. It’s not exactly new; YouTube has been doing this since March 2012. This is fine for short videos with a quick and concise close.

However, longer videos were often published with the optimistic mindset of “viewers can watch a little, or they can watch all 18 or 32 minutes.” The impact was the same. Now, the opposite is true. Watching a portion of a video to the end, once started, now has a potentially detrimental effect on the placement of the video within search results.

Atkinson notes that this presents a paradox of sorts. Ideal link placement within the video becomes a Schrödinger’s content cat situation:

  • Place the link at the beginning, where more people will see it? (Assuming more people will start your video than watch it to the end.)
  • At the end, to receive more SEO mojo? (At the risk of fewer people actually seeing and clicking on said link.)
  • In the middle, to strike a perilous balance?
Link to appropriate web pages from your video (And vice veresa.) Strive for a seamless experience across platforms with branding, messaging, and tone & voice. Great content makes it all a more satisfying endeavor, all around.

More content tips from Neil Paige:

(Top image adapted from “Skip containing discarded VHS tapes” by Flickr user Rob Pearce.)