So what is contextual content strategy?
In short, it is a strategy that employs diverse media to encourage brain-based associative connections. Our brains thrive on learning, and learning comes from combining. From a marketing perspective, the goal is that this learning will result in brand retention and behavioral shifts.
Daniel Eizans coined the phrase “Contextual Content Strategy” two years ago when he mused that content strategy might someday meld with neuropsychological study or neuroscientific discovery. In other words, mapping content to brain function. Eizans writes:
"I have always contended that true “content strategy” must look beyond the web and focus on how people learn and put information into context. I contend that that context should be brought down to the most specific of levels and appeal to individual brain functions."
Science fiction, or science reality? Perhaps both. Eizans goes on to write:
"This certainly isn’t a new concept, but it does call to attention a different reason for carefully selecting a graphic, illustration or animatic in that the visuals, coupled with copy can create deeper meaning and create a higher level of contextual relevance."
Plenty has been written about the power of association and building a powerful brand. Blogs are naturally suited to present multiple kinds of content in a relevant context. With care, a blog can take advantage of a natural brain-based drive to make connections and learn. Blogs that introduce diverse yet contextual content then stack neatly into the process of online brand building.
As the open-source specialists at Contextual explain:
"By associating content with an appropriate design, or look and feel, words can be given more meaning. For example an article on recession may have to do with the economy or a person's hairline. By providing graphics, headings, related content, and perhaps links to external research articles, the original article is given much more power and value than if the text alone were presented on a blank page (whether web-based or printed.)"
Spoon bending, as anyone who watched the first Matrix movie is familiar with, is the powerful telekinesis ability that trains the mind to shift physical reality.
Wow! Is there an app for that?
I will assume you have no urgent need to train your mind to bend spoons, but, as a fellow content marketer, you do have the urgent need to present contextual content. Doing so expands the minds of your audience, and can shift the reality of your brand in the mind of others.
Contextual content gives you the Matrix-style edge over single-source, single-media, or single-silo content. Providing contextual content on a blog gives you a role as content curator and has the added benefit of working to establish a thought leadership position.
Let me give you some boots-on-the-ground perspective.
Our content marketing company, SixEstate, uses contextual content strategy a few ways. The client content we develop using our Newsblogging process synthesizes multiple sources into contextual relevance for our clients' audience. We primarily produce written material, but this is always supplemented with other contextual media, such as photos or video. The sources are clearly listed on every post so that site visitors can dig deeper into any topic discussed.
We use Zemanta to distribute posts from our client blogs into other, relevant sites. When our clients' posts appear on other blogs, it is win-win-win.
First win: Our client expands their content's reach and simultaneously grows the expert contributor's platform.
Second win: The distributed niche news finds and educates an interested party already searching for more information, a service that elevates the leadership position of both sites.
Third win: Site traffic, client inquiries, and brands grow.
Bending spoons with your mind might be outside the reaches of reality, but what good is a bent spoon, anyway?
Bending your content strategy to include contextual content, on the other hand, is easy and within reach. Whether by manual inclusion or with Zemanta's help, adding contextual content provides an experience that can extend your audience's minds, and your content's reach.