Something occurred to me as I unwrapped my copy of Content Rules, the new book by CC Chapman and Ann Handley, both very good friends. (I got it yesterday, so I haven’t started reading it just yet) Maybe they’ll address it in the book. Maybe not. Content strategy is something of a misnomer.

Here’s why: content strategy the way most people describe it can easily be retitled “build it and they will come”. Build great content and people will find it, share it, and love you for it. Except it doesn’t really work out that way. You really need two strategies: a content strategy and a delivery strategy.

Content is the good stuff. It’s the blogs, tweets, podcasts, the knowledge, data, information, and insight that you are going to share with the world. If your content sucks, nothing you do will be sustainable. No one will want to read what you have to say, listen, watch, or participate because they get no value from you.

Delivery is who gets the good stuff and how it gets there. What content you have dictates how you’ll deliver it. Nothing drives me up a wall faster than an audio photography podcast – show me what you’re taking pictures of instead of talking about it! Likewise, most music videos are a waste of time – the musician could have saved themselves time and energy by making more songs I want to listen to than dancing around in a silly costume.

Delivery also encompasses audience. It’s fine to have a blog or a podcast, but if no one is listening or reading, it doesn’t matter.

Which do you do first? Content. You must build damn good content first, then find people who want it. How do you find people who want it? You listen to them ask about it, knock on their door gently, and try to provide value quickly.

Let’s do a Twitter-based exercise together.

Start by filling your Twitter stream with great content. Interact. Lots of replies. Share stuff that’s useful. Put up a decent introductory landing page.

Then do a Twitter search like this:

"content strategy?" -http - Twitter Search

Let’s see who we get, assuming we are blogging about content strategy. Hey look, there’s someone writing about it now.

"content strategy?" -http - Twitter Search

Go follow them.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat until you’ve followed everyone talking about content strategy that’s working on it or you hit your daily limit of 1,000 follows. Then do it some more tomorrow. Some percentage of folks will do their homework, investigate you and what you’re about, and as long as your content is dynamite, you’ve built audience as part of your delivery strategy.

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