The Five Elements of Hip-Hop Content Strategy
On June 2nd, 2010, I got to attend The Five Elements of Hip-Hop Content Strategy. The speaker was Ian Alexander. Ian is down to earth, informative and fun. The meeting was hosted by Content Strategy New England. A special shout-out must go to the tireless Rick Allen.
Ian led us through a history of both hip-hop and content strategy as a discipline. Neither one sprang up overnight; the roots are in the 1970s or so, perhaps earlier.
Then it was down to business — an outline of the Five Elements.
#1. DJ’ing – on the Content Strategy side of things, this is the technical expertise. It’s being able to understand and apply semantic categories. It is being able to interpret analytics. A Content Strategist cannot be a Luddite. She cannot fear spreadsheets.
#2. MC’ing – on the CS end, this is the editorial expertise. Often, this is what people think of when they think of Content Strategy. It is acting as a copywriter, a librarian, a research analyst and something of an artist. The Content Strategist finds and tells the story. He selects the format and helps to promote the brand.
This is where Ian introduced the concept of the Content Triangle.
(a) The first type of content is Trustbuilding. This is where a company establishes its expertise and provides value to its clients and potential customers. Here is where the company is informative about internal and industry trends. For a product-based company, this area should encompass approximately 30% of all of the content. For a service-oriented company, this area should be about 70% of all of the content.
(b) The second type of content is Informational. This is basic internal site information, such as the Contact Us page and the FAQ. This is for users to understand how to, for example, return a defective product. For a product-oriented company, this area needs to be around 30+% of all content. For a service company, that figure should be around 20+%. In either instance, start here.
(c) The third and final type of content is Sales/Call to Action. Somewhat self-explanatory, here’s where you close the deal. The deal need not be a commercial one; your call to action may very well be for your reader to sign up for a newsletter. For the product-based company, this area will have to be around about 40+% of all of the content. In the case of the service company, it’s less than 10%. Either way, this should be A/B tested.
In all instances, analytics must drive the percentages and the content.
#3. Graffiti – for the Content Strategist, this equates to design expertise. Infographics are, according to Ian, only going to continue to become more and more popular.
#4. Breaking – to the Content Strategist, this element represents Information Architecture expertise. The two are related but not identical — cousins, not twins. The gist of it is the concept of movement through a site. What are the funnels? What kind of an experience do you want your users to have? What’s your preferred destination for them?
#5. Knowledge – this final piece of the puzzle speaks to the Content Strategist’s Project Managerment/Change Management expertise. Change concepts are disposable, iterative and proposed. It is the idea of moving from a concept to a solution. The best solution is not the best solution, per se — it’s the best solution that you can implement for, without a consensus (and a budget and a signed contract!), the so-called best solution is no solution at all.
Content Strategy is different from Content Marketing. The first must drive the second. One of the best ways to help the discipline to get more respect is to branch out the network. Get to know people in vastly different disciplines (say, Robotics, for instance).
And helping the client? Think differently. Generate a 404 error and see what happens. Sign up for something: what kind of message does the user get? Is the message consistent with the remainder of the site’s look and feel and philosophy? Is the footer out of date?
Check sites like Compete and Tweetvolume for more information about how a company is really doing. Consider CMS Watch as well. Know the company’s baseline strengths and weaknesses and understand related practices and disciplines.
The Content Strategist often wears a millinery’s worth of hats, not just during a particular project but in any given day. For the CS to excel, he or she needs to have an understanding of fundamentals in a lot of areas, and be able to speak knowledgeably.
Fortunately, acquiring and applying that kind of knowledge makes and keeps this discipline fresh and exciting. Ian clearly has fun every day. And who wouldn’t want a piece of that?