Before we can talk about the history of content strategy and answer the question: has there or has there not been a change to the practice of content strategy in the past decade? I think it would be beneficial to take a moment to explain what the term content strategy really means. According to UX Mag content strategy can be defined as “the plans for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content” and according to Moz, content strategy “concerns itself with the vision—the ins and outs of how and why your content will be created, managed, and eventually archived or updated.” In my opinion content strategy is the “how” behind the “what”. The what being your content and the how being how you’re going to push that content out to people successfully.
Now that we’ve got cleared up let’s get back to the history of content strategy and see how, if at all, its changed over time. Content strategy can be traced back in some form to 1739. Its possible and I’d bet my money on the fact that content strategy existed in some form earlier than that the but the earliest I could find in my digging brought me to Poor Richard’s Almanack, published by Benjamin Franklin.
Comparing Benjamin Franklin’s published physical content strategy with the digital Internet focused content strategy of today it’s obvious that there’s already one big difference between then and now. Sure content has shifted from print to digital but the practice is still the same. Whether you apply content strategy to a book or to a website you’re still going to use the same thinking. And whether or not you’re looking at content strategy from 1739 to content strategy from 10 years ago the bones will be the same.
Looking a little bit deeper into that obviously the thinking between content strategy of a published book vs that of a website is going to be the same overall but with some differences in things like audience and reach. Referencing the question, has there or has there not been a change to the practice of content strategy in the past decade? No as a whole because both the beginning of content strategy and the practice from ten years ago and how the practice is now are concerned with the same desired outcome. On the other hand yes in that certain audiences and technologies have changed, small little details like who makes up a room of shareholders will have shifted over time.
Content strategy has also experienced a huge leap in popularity as of late. This is mostly due to the rise in popularity of the Internet, as mentioned in the paragraph above. This leap of course does not mean that elements of content strategy changed, just that more people adapted the practice and were searching and or writing about it.
When looking at our original question, has there or has there not been a change to the practice of content strategy in the past decade? This could serve as an answer. Yes. There has been a change to the practice because it has gained popularity and became a more well known term. That in and of itself is a change in the practice of content strategy.
I feel like this quote from Contentfly really does a good job in summing up how content strategy withstands the test of time,
“If there’s one thing we can tell from content marketing’s timeline, it’s that good content stands the test of time. Whether you’re writing an agricultural magazine or starting a branded podcast, telling the best stories will give your brand a place in history.”
So to put a final answer on the question: has there or has there not been a change to the practice of content strategy in the past decade? My answer to that is no, there has not been a change in the practice. The goal of content strategy always stayed the same and just because there are now more people practicing content strategy and the application (internet versus printed) has been updated some, the heart of content strategy has not changed over time. Updated, yes. However content strategy has not changed from its original intentions.