Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox

The bull$hit bingo of Social Media and digital buzzwords is just getting warmed up. If you thought 2010 was bad, wait until you see the new batch of whoppers awaiting you on the flip side of December 2010! Want to know what to expect in 2011? I can give you a sneak peek. Here we go:

1. 2010’s Social Media experts, especially those who came to their impressive expertise by way of writing blogs about writing blogs, will magically transform themselves into “Content Strategists” (a term stolen from either the SEO world or that of content fulfillment firms keen on the fact that “content strategy” sounds a lot sexier than “content fulfillment”). Though for some, the transformation will take place sometime between the hours of 4am and 9am (GMT) on 1 January 2011, the vast majority of the metamorphoses will take place based on Social Media conferences’ need for Content Strategy speakers. Expect a deeper ‘content strategy’ track at SxSW, and a rapid addition of ‘content strategy’ to most failing digital agencies’ service offerings.

2. The title SVP Digital Conversation Strategy will be printed for the very first time on a business card. Some people will nod in admiration at the awesomeness of this amazing new title, which wisely replaces the all too pedestrian SVP Consumer Insights title of yore.

3. A deeper degree of specialization within the ranks of the brand new Social Media management world will give rise to a new breed of pioneers and internet heroes whose internships will be dubbed all manners of badass, such as… Facebook Wall Strategist, LinkedIn Update Strategist and Tweet Redaction Strategist, to unveil but a few. Exciting times indeed are ahead of us. Just around the proverbial corner.

4. Not to be outdone by their Twitternet brethren, many a sales rep will demand to be elevated to the same standard, and new titles will be created for them as well. (Overdue if you ask me). What organization could be competitive in the full throttle future of 2011 without Senior Telephone Outreach Strategists and Phonebook Operationalization Strategists? Surely, an organization whose ranks swell with this degree of strategic expertise cannot but obliterate its competitors!

5. Recruitment Strategists, Headcount Oversight Strategists and Employee Discipline Strategists will likewise transform the world of Human Resources quasi-overnight. They will quickly be followed by Accounts Receivable Strategists, Product Management Strategists, Information Technology Strategists, even Cafeteria Meal Preparation Strategists. Surface Engineers, once known simply as “ja-ni-tors,” will of course have to be trained in the new future-science of Surface Engineering Strategy.

6. By late April, CNN will begin to report that all manners of jobs around the US will have followed the trend begun by Content Strategists. Pastry Chefs, faced with the impending threat of being rendered obsolete by twitternet pastry gurus, will quickly evolve their own title nomenclature to Cake Strategists. Construction workers of every stripe and specialty will be forced to say goodbye to the world they had known until 2011 and rebrand themselves as construction strategists or face obsolescence. Teachers: Education Strategists. Police: Crime Prevention Strategists and Crime Repression Strategists. Cabinet-makers: Storage Design Strategists. Copywriters: Content Production Strategists. Babysitters: Child Oversight Strategists. Mechanics: Technical Recalibration Strategists. Farmers: Food Production Strategists. Consumers: Personal Consumption Strategists. Even Personal Branding Experts will find themselves forced to change their blogspot profiles to Personal Branding Strategists. Airline pilots: Safe Landing Strategists.

7. By June, Chico (this blog’s mascot) will have fully embraced his new role as Chief Pooping-On-The-Floor Strategy Officer and the global transition into strategery will be complete.

Long gone will be the peddlers of digital snake oil in this brave new world of digital strategists. Thanks to content strategists, mundane tactical tasks like copywriting, creative direction and account management will be relegated to the past of 2010. Antiquity, as some might call it, and by all accounts as ancient as G3 phones and Foursquare’s Newbie badge.

In this brave new world of strategery, tactics themselves will have become obsolete, along with equally vexing notions like execution. (Ugly word, “execution.” So negative and violent. Reminiscent of firing squads and public lashings. The old corporate regime, in other words.)  No, in this brave new world of twittmastery, strategy will rule side by side with its FTW x infinity companion theory. Content will finally fulfill its destiny: Converting 100% of anyone who comes in contact with it, particularly when published to a website! Why? Because content strategy, not strategy itself – or aligning content to the program or campaign’s strategy – is the answer to bad, ineffective content, and to failure in general.

You see, content strategy promises to do what no other service offering by digital marketing consultants has ever managed to deliver: Truly optimize your content so that never again will you have to endure a failed campaign. E-ver. (What… didn’t you know that poor content was the culprit all along?) Content strategists will guarantee that your content will be awesome all the time, every time, as if Zeus himself had planned, produced and managed it.

Ah, content strategy. The Holy Grail of business. The answer to thousands of years of business and marketing inefficiency. The why didn’t we think of that sooner explosion of awesomeness that changed the world of communications forever. The two most powerful words in the universe. The key, even, to your very own Social Media win. Not outstanding creative, clever copy or brilliant tactical execution: Content strategy. It was the missing puzzle piece all this time.

And to think that, all these years, a content strategist or content strategy consultant was the only thing standing between your company and global success!

Pablo Picasso, by Edward-Quinn

Imagine how content strategy (instead of business strategy, product strategy or even marketing communications strategy) might have helped Apple! Imagine what content strategy might have done for brands like Starbucks, Facebook, Ford and Zappos. If only their Brand Managers and CEOs had embraced content strategy instead of… well, you know… actual strategy. What if they had taken their cues from far more successful industries like print publishing and SEO. If only the world’s most successful brands had been so inspired.

Say the words outloud with me: “Content Strategy.” Let them roll off your lips like chocolate-filled dreams in a cloud of unctuous awesomeness.



We could have defeated the Nazis with those two words. Gandalf could have crushed Mordor in all of ten pages with that kind of power. Romeo and Juliet could have lived happily ever after had Shakespeare only known about Content Strategy.

Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

And the music goes on.

For obvious reasons, there is little doubt in my mind that Content Strategy could be big business in 2011: It is money. Bloggers will sell it left and right. (It makes content management in the age of social sound like manna from Heaven and helps monetize their “skills”.) SEO firms and consultants will sell it too. (It beats the hell out of trying to sell the same old Search Engine Optimization and Content Optimization that has worked only marginally since the 1990’s. Same thing, really, but it sounds a whole lot sexier to call it “Content Strategy.)” Digital Firms will sell it because not having it on the menu (next to its clone digital strategy) will make them look like they aren’t in the forefront of the digital world. Every out-of-work marketing professional looking to get back into the game will add content strategy to their resume – you know, just in case. Everything about Social Media – from blogs to twitter to Youtube, – and everything on the web – from microsites to contests –  will be become about content strategy. Not business strategy, communications strategy, or digital strategy, not even marketing, customer acquisition or customer retention strategy, but content strategy. Thus, the next buzzword-generated bubble will be born.

Followed by the inevitable evolution in bogus digital measurement: Return On Content.

My very early prediction for 2012’s follow-up to these gifts to human intellect and digital marketing: Execution Strategy (which is exactly the same brand of oxymoron as Content Strategy, except not limited to content) and tactical strategy, which is of course equally meaningless yet sounds almost as catchy as “Crazy Gravy.”

Since I like to get an early start on these sorts of things, I am preparing a whole panoply of new products and services that will keep me a leg up on the competition, starting with my two all-time favorites: Magically-turning-tactics-into-strategy Strategy and When-all-else-fails-just-make-$hit-up Strategy.

And you know what the best part about being a content strategist is? When your client’s content still doesn’t deliver results, not only is it not your fault, you still get paid.

2011 is gearing up to be a great year for snake oil.

Pop Quiz / Litmus Test:

If you don’t know if you agree with me, answer this simple question: Two years ago, what were “content strategists” called?

a) Copywriters

b) SEO experts

c) Editors

d) Social Media Experts

e) Bloggers

f) All of the above

In closing.

Just so we’re all on the same page:

Business Strategy: Yes.

Digital Strategy: Yes.

Communications Strategy: Yes.

Content Management: Yes.

Content planning: Yes.

Content fulfillment: Yes.

Content Strategy: No.

Digital Conversation Strategy: Stop. Just stop.

Tomorrow, for everyone’s benefit, we might take a brief look at the difference between tactics and strategy, for those in class who still don’t know the difference.