Content strategy is a vital part of any company and we just wish more companies would see it that way. If they did the web would be a better place to read. If you enjoy writing and coming up with new ideas then this interview with the very friendly Alyce Currier from Wistia will set you on the right path.
Please introduce yourself for our readers
I’m from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and after going to school near Boston, I’ve lived in the area ever since. I majored in Sociology and minored in Media Studies, and I started working at Wistia right after I graduated. In addition to working on content at Wistia, I also really enjoy techno and house music and am a senior editor at a music site, Earmilk. I’m on Twitter at @notalyce.
What is the story of how you became a Content Strategist? Where did the journey begin and where are you heading?
I’ve always been interested in publishing and the web, so it feels like it was a natural fit! After starting out working on some other projects at Wistia, I eventually ended up working a lot with our blog and other content efforts, and now that’s my primary focus, and I’m really happy with the balance between working with words, working on strategy, and dabbling in solving technical and design problems as they relate to our content.
What is an average day for a Content Strategist at Wistia?
A lot of my time — it feels like most of my time these days — is spent working with people on their writing projects, which is really fun. For some people, that just means getting another eye on their writing and making some basic edits. For others, it’s a longer process of helping tease out an idea. I also spend a lot of time thinking about where we should go next with our brand content, and how it all fits into the big picture. Of course, I also enjoy working on my own content projects.
Overall, I get to talk to a lot of smart people about a lot of different things, which is awesome.
What exciting projects are you currently working on that our readers can find on Wistia?
I think the coolest new thing we’ve been experimenting with is a new content format (for us, anyway), the “guide.” Previously, our content either fit into our blog (which is mostly written posts and can feel a bit more ephemeral) or our Learning Center (which is focused on video and a bit more permanent). The “guides”, like our recent guide to understanding audience retention, take a mixed medium approach and aim to serve as longer-standing resources. It’s cool seeing how video and text can work together, bringing each medium’s respective strengths!
How do you come up with new ideas for content?
It’s not easy to come up with consistent, exciting, useful content about “video hosting for businesses”… so we don’t try. Instead, we’ve expanded the scope of content we can create by focusing it around a mission: “to empower everybody to get more out of video.” This enables us to make content about a huge variety of topics that help solve our audience’s problems: video production, marketing, scripting, concepting, and beyond.
What kind of content strategy has been most successful and why?
A strategy focused on your audience, rather than yourself. Every time you publish something, you should be asking how it helps and delights and reader. What problem are you solving for them? How can you go the extra mile to make the piece extra enjoyable?
How do you measure the success of your content, what indicators / KPIs do you work towards?
We generally measure different things for each piece, depending on the goals of that piece. For our biggest “featured” content, the goal is to get it in front of as many people as possible and grow our audience, so we usually look at social shares, email forwards, pageviews, and new subscribers. Sometimes the goal is to create a conversation, in which case commenting is more important. If there’s a video, we focus on measuring engagement (the average percent of the video that viewers watched).
I’m also a strong advocate of the idea that content can serve a variety of purposes — for example, some pieces will spread far and wide, and that’s great, but sometimes, we want to create a niche piece that will be extremely useful to a few people, and if ten people get exactly what they wanted from that piece, then we’re still happy.
What are the main tools of your trade? What apps / programs processes do you use?
Trello my go-to for organizing our schedule and keeping everyone on the same page. For personal productivity, I rely on pen-and-paper for constant notetaking and to-do lists, and also track what I get done each day in iDoneThis. We spend a ton of time collaborating on content in Google docs; if I had to pick a single “tool of the trade” for content creators I’d have to go with Google docs, because of sheer time spent using it and how screwed we’d be without it. Everything is better with collaboration!
What websites do you like to read to help inspire you or where you help continue your learning?
I try to do as much deeper reading as possible, because I think that reading books and reading longform, non-work-related content helps my work way more than reading most marketing blogs does. That’s the stuff that gives me the most fresh approaches and new ideas, and it tends to help me understand people, which is the most important thing if you’re creating content, video, written, or otherwise: you need to be human, and you need to treat your audience like humans, and you need to be good at listening to your coworkers.
When I am reading about things that are a bit more on-topic, I tend to look up to Moz’s blog, A List Apart, and Harvard Business Review.
If you could give three pieces of advice to our wannabe content strategists at WCB what would they be?
- Care a lot about language, communication, and people! Always be studying and thinking about these things, even if it’s tangential to your actual “work.”
- Get out of your niche. The content ideas you come up with will stand out more if you’re drawing inspiration from outside your industry, and it’s fun to explore how different publications and companies are sharing their knowledge, even if the topic itself isn’t interesting to you.
- Experiment a lot and don’t get too stubborn about anything. Even if you don’t love someone’s idea right away, or you think a piece might be risky, it’s good to try new things sometimes. Make sure you have measurement methods in place so you can see if your experiments work, but even if a piece flops, the lessons you learn about your future strategy are often worth it.