Have you heard about Colleen Jones yet?
Hopefully you have, as she might have the key to web, mobile and social media content woes in higher education.
Colleen Jones wrote the best book I’ve read so far this year: “Clout, The Art and Science of Influential Web Content.”
Colleen has been kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about content strategy and higher ed despite her busy schedule (she was presenting in London at an international content strategy conference just last week).
1) A lot has been said about the need for content strategy in higher ed. In your opinion, what is the biggest content challenge universities and colleges have to face today?
Ah, that’s easy. The number one content challenge that universities and colleges face is their view of their content problem and, consequently, their investment in a solution. Colleges and universities tend to look to technology as a magic pill to cure their content ills.
A couple of months ago, I talked with the website administrator at a college that had spent $100,000 on a content management system (CMS) and not one dollar on content strategy. So, this poor website administrator (yes, ONE administrator) was saddled with everything from migrating content into the CMS to wrangling content from stakeholders to managing the content once the new website was launched. And, how is he thanked? With executives complaining about the lackluster content. Well, what did they expect? They were lucky just to get the website launched with no disasters.
Now, I tell this story not to rag on a CMS. I tell this story to emphasize that a CMS alone cannot and will not ever solve your content problems. A hospital never buys an expensive X-ray machine and then forgets to establish the right processes or hire the right clinicians to use the machine. Why? That would be stupid, risky, and, frankly, malpractice. Yet, malpractice is exactly what colleges and universities do when they buy a CMS without investing in content strategy.
So, to overcome this challenge, colleges and universities need to understand the true source of their content problems is not technology. It’s a lack of content strategy. The solution? Invest in the right people and processes that, together WITH your CMS, will make your content get results.
2) Many institutions are now struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for quality content for their websites, social media channels and mobile websites. How can they do it without a magic wand? Is there really a proven methodology for better content?
You’re right that the pressure is “on” as students, parents, alumni and other users expect colleges and institutions to be available 24/7 on the web…including mobile and social. Businesses are facing the same challenge. If it’s any consolation, businesses are struggling to adapt, too. But, the good news is you don’t need a magic wand to adapt. You DO need good methodology. I’d venture to say that there are a few different methodologies out there. For a nice overview, check out the Content Strategy knol, which I co-curate. The core elements to the methodologies that work are analyze, plan, execute and evaluate. If you think about it, that’s a methodology for doing just about anything well.