Kristina Halvorson, keynote: Organisations have been preparing content in silos for years, now it’s visible (“Previously, we could just put it in an envelope and mail it to them.”) Lisa Welchman: Many organisations have always been dysfunctional and siloed, didn’t matter as long as their storefront looked good
Kristina Halvorson: Nothing they’ve done up until now has actually fixed their problems
Erin Kissane: proliferation of platforms means that decisions are being made haphazardly, decisions are fragmented and reactive. “ This is totally our problem.” Publishing decisions need to be made as part of the content strategy. We need a decision-making framework.
Erik Westra, Captain of Confab
It’s now easier to give a succinct answer (e.g. “covers all aspects of content planning, creation and governance, across all areas of an organisation”) But what does that MEAN, especially to people who equate content with social media or marketing or websites? Kristina Halvorson: “Everyone wants this one final definition, but it’s big, complicated and we’re all still trying to figure it out.” So pick what’s most important to your organisation in the short term.
This is a big, big field – that’s now clearer than ever.
More defined areas of content-related expertise are emerging, but it’s becoming clear that they are ALL important for the practice of content strategy. The issue with specialising in only one area is that you lose the ability to STRATEGISE.
Stakeholders will frequently tell you they want something (something that your experience tells you is a bad idea), but what they really want is the EFFECT they think that thing will produce. Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t make assumptions. Prepare to be surprised.
Kristina Halvorson: There’s one important thing you can say. This is what makes you a consultant.
Sarah Cancilla communicated the idea that you can’t walk into a situation (organisation, department) and start throwing all your tools and tactics around without first quietly getting to grips with the culture, the processes, the priorities. At Facebook, this was key. She had to throw out the idea of achieving perfection before release: “We’re a builder culture. Nothing is complete or perfect – and that’s okay.”
One of our roles is to help others (non-writers) produce better content. Sarah Cancilla: one of her challenges when she became the first content strategist at Facebook was to figure out how to scale content development without a content team. In other words, she had to work out how to make devs better writers. The point here is that you won’t always have the perfect resources. You won’t always have a dream team. But good, solid workflow and process management can help here. Make sure the resources non-writers need are accessible, in a place and form where they’ll be used, not hidden away in a 40-page style guide.
You couldn’t do this without clear rules and guidelines around process.
Stop telling clients you have all the answers. You don’t. Don’t assume. Johns Hopkins – video example spoken about by Ahava Leibtag
Sarah Cancilla: Facebook content strategists have found allies amongst devs and designers. FOCS t-shirt
Erika Hall’s talk touched on this a lot. “The end product isn’t great content. It’s a great THING.” We need to communicate our value as part of the whole, so that people can advocate for our work. Kristina Halvorson: We run the risk of creating our own little content strategy silo.
Minnesota souvenirs The insights, lessons, and little gems I brought back from Confab 2011
Here’s a real FAQ: Why has content strategy suddenly become so important in the last few years?
Organisations are feeling the pain. “ Why hasn’t SEO fixed our problems?” “ Why haven’t the users generated all our content for us?” Image courtesy of Sean Tubridy
“ We need a blog!” “ We need a Facebook page!” “ We need an iPad app!” “ We need to write articles!”
Confab was the best conference ever, in the history of forever. Image courtesy of Sean Tubridy Confab Bonus Fact #1
Souvenir #1 “ What is content strategy?” is getting simultaneously harder and easier to answer.
This is a salad. (Obviously.) But what’s in it? Image courtesy of Sean Tubridy