Career Boosters: What is a Content Strategist?

Two content strategy experts give students and jobseekers an inside look at an in-demand job

Career Boosters is a monthly e-panel discussion that scouts out leaders in the marketing, digital, communications and advertising space to provide their perspectives on industry topics related to career development, talent acquisition and hiring practices.

Today’s panel: Ron Tite is CEO of The Tite Group, and William Ruzvidzo is a content strategist at 88Creative

What is a content strategist?

William Ruzvidzo

Ron: It’s a big role with as many definitions as responsibilities. In my eyes, a content strategist plans the type of content to be produced, the best methods and platforms for distribution, and most importantly, how it all works together to drive people to purchase. They’re thinkers, not doers.

William: A content strategist is responsible for planning, directing and managing a client’s content marketing. This can include anything from blog posts, social media, web pages, email newsletters and multimedia and even offline content too. In addition, the role involves a great deal of overall strategy, client relationship management and directing the community managers to execute the strategy.

How do you think this role is going to evolve over the next year?

Ron Tite

Ron: It will certainly be more defined. As marketers elevate content marketing to higher priorities, the content strategist will inherit broader brand planning responsibilities with paid advertising being integrated into their portfolio. They may leave traditional planners left saying, “So… what do I do?”

William: With more people consuming content on their mobile phones than ever, content creators and strategists will have to embrace a mobile-first approach and make sure that their content is optimized for mobile.

Creating and sharing visual content will be more important than ever, too. With so much written content being churned out, people are being bombarded by information. Visual content that will capture eyeballs and that people can consume and share quickly has never been more important.

What are some of your favourite pre-screening questions when identifying talent?

Ron: Who is producing content and why? What can brands learn from traditional media properties and what can media properties learn from brands? Who shot JR?

William: I think there’s an assumption that if someone uses social media tools in their own lives, they’re a natural fit for a content strategy or a digital marketing role. That’s often not the case – sure, you have a blog and have a lot of followers on Twitter. But have you ever helped a company use content to achieve a marketing goal, spread a message, or create a supportive community? And how are you measuring the effectiveness of your efforts? Those are the types of questions I would ask to gauge whether this person is ready to step into a strategic role.

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What’s the ideal background of a successful content strategist?

Ron: An ideal background doesn’t exist. It’s a fairly senior role and many of the jobs that could have prepared someone for it weren’t around when they were starting their careers.

William: A marketing or communications background. To understand what great content is, you first have to know how to create it. So having a communications background and experience in creating content is ideal. Having a marketing background is an asset too because it helps you have an understanding of how content marketing is part of the overall marketing mix.

Any tips for individuals looking to move into this role?

Ron: Roll up the sleeves. Start in community management. Get in the trenches. See first hand how people respond to what and when and why. Another option is create and develop your own content platform. Become a media powerhouse before you start helping one.

William: Understand the big picture and know how to connect the dots. This requires a balance between analytical and intuitive thinking. To succeed in this role, you have to know your clients overall marketing and business goals, know your audience and the type of content they like, and have an eye for good content. Once you have an understanding of all of this, you can connect all the dots when developing your content strategy.

Rachel Scott is the marketing and content manager and Trina Boos is president of Boost Agents, a specialist recruitment provider to the marketing, advertising, design and communications industry.

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