To become a content strategist, there are several skills to master beyond content creation. Content strategists must be adept when it comes to tasks such as organization, multi-tasking, analyzing and interpreting data, and solid writing skills. However, the best content strategists also have solid interpersonal skills.
It’s a statistic you’re tired of reading. As a content marketer, it both depresses and embarrasses you. But as more brands start doing content marketing, a smaller percentage of content marketing strategies are actually effective — or measurable enough to say so. According to the 2017 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends North America report produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, just 34 percent of B2B marketers say their organizations are extremely or very effective at content marketing.
Don’t be one of the marketers blindly creating content. We’ve all had our strategy blunders. But it’s time to move on and become the content strategist you know you can be — one who sets an example and answers all the top content strategy questions. Maybe if you embody and practice enough of them at once, you can actually be a best practice.
Here are the six skills you need to achieve that lofty goal:
1. Organization and multitasking skills
As the leader of your brand’s content initiatives, you need to manage all types of projects and people. You should love project management, calendars, color codes and note-taking.
First, there are the tasks associated with spearheading and tracking projects and organizing communication with other departments and stakeholders. There are editorial calendars to create, budgets to manage and vendor contracts to hammer out.
Then, of course, you also need to organize how you create, publish and promote your various types of content, including blog posts, social media and email campaigns and website copy. A number of free project management tools exist to help you do this; even better is software for content creation and management that pulls all these processes into one channel (of course, we’re partial to ClearVoice).
2. Solid writing skills and an eye for detail
When you’re leading your brand’s content, you’re leading your brand’s voice. If someone else has developed it, you need to work with them to enforce what’s important. This requires an affinity for details and a certain level of meticulousness.
Speaking of meticulous, you need to ensure content consistency across all marketing channels. That means being Type A enough to notice when a writer is using both “pay per click” and “pay-per-click” in the same piece, and knowing which one your brand normally uses. There will be dozens of times per week when you’ll need to recall “editorial guideline” info like that. This is why you need a style guide.
You also need to be creative and have a way with words, obviously. And that doesn’t mean an English degree as much as it means knowing and connecting to your readers. You should be able to write with impeccable grammar, but also know when to throw perfect grammar out the window for the sake of writing copy that engages and converts your audience.
3. Interpersonal and motivational skills
Content marketers should be able to work with all departments and levels of an organization, from support staff up to the C-level. You need to be able to communicate as well on a personal level as you do with your blog’s whole readership.
From managing contributors and working with influencers to collaborating with your coworkers, the goal is to motivate and inspire. Great content leaders don’t just keep other content marketers and creators on-task and on time, they help them stay motivated and on-brand.
This can mean anything from knowing how to pull content topic ideas out of your team in brainstorming sessions to phrasing a question perfectly in a case study, to get the perfect quote to plaster on your brand’s homepage.
4. An analytical and interpretive mind
Parts of data-driven content marketing are easy nowadays — mainly, finding and collecting data. These beginning roadblocks are now easily overcome, so much so that even we “creative types” can do it. We don’t need to worry about collecting or calculating data because apps and integrations make it easy.
What’s important — and a huge challenge — is knowing what to do with the data. You’ll need to spot patterns and trends in your content marketing data and draw conclusions from them.
Maybe your case study blog posts perform better on LinkedIn and Facebook, while your listicles and tutorials continue to kick ass on Twitter. Maybe your brand’s most shareable content seems to consistently be 500 words long, published in the afternoon, with two Pinterest-sized images.
You need to know how to figure this out and adapt your strategy accordingly.
It only takes a few weeks on a content team to know that an editorial calendar — as much as you’d like it to be — is never really finalized.
Content relies on so many external factors and timelines. Whether you’re waiting on content from freelancers or for a new product or feature to launch, there’s always something throwing your schedule off.
So as important as it is to plan out and create a spot for everything, you also have to be cool with moving things around. Flexibility is necessary. Be ready to spend a lot of time communicating and adjusting to changes.
6. Consensus-building skills
You need to be your brand’s content spokesperson. Content marketing is probably one of the newer initiatives your company is taking for a spin, and likely, not everyone’s on board yet. Some may be doubtful of its power. Understandably so, if it hasn’t been proven for your business yet.
So you need to spread the gospel of content marketing just as well as you can manage an editorial calendar. Getting buy-in from other departments is easier when they actually understand the benefits of content marketing.
We all know what it’s like to chase after coworkers for the info you need for a blog post or email campaign. If they’re excited for the next send, that’s less likely to happen. Instead, they’re sending over unsolicited ideas, and that’s awesome. That means they care.
Is a lot of this tedious? Yes. Is a lot of it annoying? Yes. But it’s also creative and inspiring — and hey, that’s content marketing. And we chose this life…
What’s missing from this list — anything? Let us know in the comments below.