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This week saw the launch of a new free online course – a MOOC (massive open online course). The course is called “Content Strategy for Professionals,” and it is massive, indeed, with 35,000+ people registered. (According to a recent study, the average completion rate for most MOOCs is less than 7 percent.)

The course, as we’d expect, starts with a definition of content strategy. Here is its definition:

Content Strategy is credible, trustworthy, transparent content that enhances the organization’s strategic goals.

“Credible, trustworthy, transparent content that enhances the organization’s strategic goals” is a wonderful thing for every organization to strive for. And if we had this, the content that organizations produce would be much more useful, more usable – and certainly more used.

But it is NOT content strategy.

Content strategy means making conscious, strategic decisions about your organization’s content.

There are several widely accepted definitions of content strategy:


10 Definitions of Content Strategy

What is a content strategy and why do you need it?

including mine:

The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of Content

What all of them have in common is that they define the strategy for how your content needs to work.

That’s why the MOOC’s definition is dangerous. This course is focused only on the “what.”

But there’s so much else that needs to be thought through, questions to be answered. Here are just some of those questions:

  • Who is creating the content? reviewing it? approving it? deciding when to take it down?
  • What formats, channels, promotional outlets does each content item take, and how do they all fit together?
  • How will the content that’s created fit in with what already exists?
  • When will each piece of content be highlighted on various channels?
  • What’s most important today, and who decides that?
  • How will content’s effectiveness be measured, and what happens if it’s not as successful as it needs to be?

If those questions are not answered, the organization will be flooded with content in practically no time. That’s a huge problem in organizations already, one that content strategists are often brought in to solve.

With too much content – regardless of the quality – no one will be able to find what they’re looking for.

With too much content, the value of any single piece of content will be lost.

Without making sure that the people inside the organization who produce the organization’s products, programs, events, resources, tools, publications know how to turn what they do into effective content, the very stuff that organizations produce gets far less recognition and use than it deserves.

All of these problems exist today, and content strategists help solve them.

But not the 35,000 people who have registered for this MOOC. They may be creating great content, but they are NOT learning about content strategy.

Every organization needs to know about content strategy. If they knew about it, there would be even more demand for it than there is now, and better opportunities for experienced and new content strategists. Unfortunately, this MOOC is not helping that happen.

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