Content Strategy in Higher Education


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Pre-conference workshop given at eduWEB11, 8/1/11, San Antonio, TX

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  • Who are you?Why are you here?
  • Ask for their ideas about what it is
  • Breakdown the definition, word by word. Content= text, data, graphics, video, audio. Strategy= holistic plan for obtaining a specific goalCreation= what and why? Structure. Where will it come from? Who is responsible?Delivery= how will it get online, who will edit? What tools used?Governance= Who cares for it? What’s the plan for adding, archiving? Policies? Standards?
  • Involves content and people.
  • Mstoner after Confab: “Relieved” they were already doing content strategy. “And we didn’t call it “content strategy.” As a small team, we had to be pragmatic generalists rather than focused practitioners of a single element of content strategy.”
  • This is bigger than the web team. Involves senior leadership, IT, Comms, Academics, etcClearly linked with strategic plan
  • If you want more, here’s a good resource that links to many of the resources you’ve seen today
  • People with little or no experience creating official website content on your behalf.
  • If your boss has seen this and showed it to you, you probably need content strategy
  • Ian Alexander coined this term– find and forage
  • Everyone! “You probably need a content strategy”
  • WHY?? Why are you doing this? Why blog? Because everyone else is?Must connect user needs to business objectives. Can’t do that if you don’t know either of those.
  • We’ll talk first about context
  • Discuss this. Exercise to identify business objectives in higher ed. Who defines objectives? This is bigger than the web team. Involves senior leadership, IT, Comms, Academics, etcClearly linked with strategic plan
  • Modified later in process to reflect migration
  • Modified later in the process to include metadata for CMS migration
  • We have to get senior admins to understand why and what value it providesGovernance ensures it gets funded properly
  • We talked about the case for CS earlier
  • From a comment on Mark Greenfield’s blog post
  • Jeff Cram says “stop letting people use your CMS”CMSs are not one size fits allSometimes the best way to engage the community in content development is not to involve the webReference the possible ASC CMS model.
  • Requesters (These are the bosses who tell you to “get this up on the web”.)Providers (These are people closest to your product, service or audience who will likely run for the hills when you ask them to contribute website content!)Creators (This is anybody and everybody and rarely includes someone with professional communications training.)Reviewers/ approvers (These are usually the bosses who probably requested it in the first place. More likely than not, there is no reviewer at all. The untrained creator has total authority to do whatever she wants. It would be nice, however, if this function was served by a real editor with the authority to edit.)Publishers (These are the people with access to the CMS who are probably the creators, too. This is the one function that the organization usually provides some training and support for.)Community Managers (You likely have far more of these than you know.)
  • Piet Niederhausen- Content in Motion
  • You can think of your content much like Legos
  • Think about the granular parts of your content
  • Can happen with or without a CMS
  • It’s not just the pages
  • “Reveal, don’t repeat. Don’t blast key messages over and over. Instead, let content reveal and support different facets of the messages.” from Clout
  • We run the risk of creating too much content. It takes over if we never prune it. Creating more content isn’t the goal. Less can be more.
  • How do we go from a pile of Legos to a Volvo?
  • How do we do this? We can do it by carefully curating our content.
  • If you want people to believe you are great at something, you have to build the case by presenting evidence. A better strategy with better evidence presents a better case. It doesn’t happen by itself and can’t happen if you don’t have good content to curate.
  • We can do this through curation
  • Timely= news/headlines. Timeless= evergreen content.
  • A mixtape is thoughtful. Genius is an algorithm. Use caution in expecting your CMS to do this. Don’t overdo it with syndication or you could end up with a dynamic site of loosely related content that fails to tell your story.
  • Use your CMS to remove barriers, not to think for you.
  • Start with a master calendar: Holidays, Deadlines, EventsBuild the calendar to suit your needsConsider calendars by audience or content type
  • Start w/existing content. Identify gaps. Think story-building: if you learned this, now it makes sense for you need to know that.Helping depts. create editorial calendars pays great dividends (aligning the organization with messaging, giving them reminders for when to refresh content, helping to see connections and integration with social, etc.)
  • You have to plan for what you want to measure in your strategies and make sure you’re set-up to collect the right data.
  • How do you know if your strategies are working?
  • Triangulate your assesment. Usability testing alone is not enough.
  • Quantitative tells you what is happening, qualitative tells you why it’s happening. There’s a good chapter on this in the book Clout.
  • Usability vs. utilityUsability= the site is easy to useUtility= the site provides the information the user needs
  • Usability scenarios aren’t always real-world. You wouldn’t just pick the first camera and check-out.
  • What are people not finding?What are they searching for?
  • So you can create content your users want
  • Taking content strategy to the campus
  • Begin by aligning and educating people at all levels of the organization. Make sure people know your organization’s business objectives and audiences and how their objectives and audiences fit.Cover the overall brand and messaging strategy, content strategy and editorial strategy
  • Giving people a tool and no knowledge isn’t going to make your content better
  • You have been this for hundreds of years. Sometimes the best way to approach it if offline.
  • These can be more detailed for specific content types. Good idea to tie these to your wireframes so people can see them
  • Vague instructions: People don’t know what that means and they’ll just waste time trying to do that.Workshop: reformatting your garbage so it’s easier to scan
  • Content Strategy in Higher Education

    1. 1. Content Strategy<br />a field guide for higher education<br />J. Todd Bennett & Adam Forrand<br />
    2. 2. What we plan to cover today:<br />What is content strategy?<br />Why do you need it?<br />How do you do it?<br />
    3. 3. What is Content Strategy?<br />
    4. 4. Content Strategy is…<br />“…the process of planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.”<br />
    5. 5. Content Strategy is…<br />“…figuring out the best way for content to help achieve your business goals”<br />Melissa Rach<br />
    6. 6.
    7. 7.
    8. 8. diagram RahelBailie, descriptions Jonathan Kahn<br />
    9. 9.
    10. 10. The many disciplines of content strategy<br />Brand strategy<br />Metadata strategy<br />Messaging strategy<br />Editorial strategy<br />Information architecture<br />Tone & style guides<br />Taxonomy/categorization<br /> Felicity Evans<br />
    11. 11. Haven’t we seen all this before?<br />Louis Rosenfeld, “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web”, 2002<br />
    12. 12. “If [Information Architecture] is the spatial side of information, I see content strategy as the temporal side of the same coin.” <br /> Louis Rosenfeld<br />
    13. 13. Content strategy is ALL of these things.<br />Content strategy is NOT new.<br />You’re probably already doing it (to some degree).<br />
    14. 14. Flickr: joey.gonoza<br />Content strategy that isn’t tied to well-defined business objectives is not strategy.<br />
    15. 15.<br />
    16. 16. Any questions?<br />
    17. 17. Why do we need content strategy?<br />
    18. 18. If you just spent $100k on a CMS and your website still stinks, you probably need content strategy<br />
    19. 19. If your CMS solved a technical problem, but created a human one, you probably need content strategy<br />
    20. 20. “You have dozens of users in CMS tool 101 training sessions with no idea why they are there, no familiarity with the publishing model and no incentive to learn how to keep their piece of content up to date which rarely needs to be updated anyway. This never ends well.”<br />Jeff Cram<br />
    21. 21. If you just spent $200k on a redesign and your website still stinks, you probably need content strategy.<br />
    22. 22. If you just spent $300k on a rebranding and your website still stinks, you probably need a content strategy.<br />Content College<br />Start here. Go far. <br />
    23. 23. If the inmates are running the asylum, you probably need a content strategy.<br />
    24. 24.<br />
    25. 25. If your website is like a flea market, you probably need a content strategy.<br />Metaphor by Ian Alexander<br />
    26. 26. If you are [insert issue here]<br /><ul><li>Under-staffed
    27. 27. Under-funded
    28. 28. Under-appreciated
    29. 29. Under-water…</li></li></ul><li>Content strategy can help you…<br /><ul><li>Understand and meet your audiences’ needs
    30. 30. Support actions you want to promote
    31. 31. Stop wasting resources on content nobody wants
    32. 32. Eliminate the guesswork about what to publish, how and where
    33. 33. Get more done</li></ul>Source: Brain Traffic<br />
    34. 34. Any questions?<br />
    35. 35. Creating the Content<br />
    36. 36. Creating the Content PART 1: ANALYSIS<br />
    37. 37. Sound familiar?<br />This needs to go on the home page<br />We should be on YouTube<br />I need this brochure converted for the web<br />We need our new mission statement up<br />Let’s write a dozen articles next month<br />We need to launch a blog<br />Source: Halvorson<br />
    38. 38.<br />
    39. 39. Context Analysis<br />The elements that surround and affect your content<br />
    40. 40. Define your business objectives<br />Who does this?<br />How do you ensure they’re linked with the strategic plan?<br />Flickr: Marubozo<br />
    41. 41. Identify & understand your users<br />Who are they?<br />What are their task and info needs?<br />Focus groups<br />Interviews<br />Surveys<br />Secondary research<br />Flickr: manjulakoza<br />
    42. 42. How are people using your website now?<br />Analytics<br />Website<br />Search<br />Usability testing<br />
    43. 43. What is your current web ecosystem?<br /><ul><li>Current processes
    44. 44. Politics
    45. 45. Competitors
    46. 46. Brand</li></ul>Flickr: OTHConsulting<br />
    47. 47. Content Analysis<br />A close review of your existing content<br />
    48. 48. Content Audit<br /><ul><li>What do you have?
    49. 49. Where is it?
    50. 50. What’s the format?
    51. 51. What’s the structure?
    52. 52. Is there “ROT”?</li></li></ul><li>
    53. 53.
    54. 54.
    55. 55.
    56. 56. Any questions?<br />
    57. 57. Creating the Content PART 2: Planning<br />
    58. 58. Governance <br />A problem everywhere, but complicated in higher education by decentralization and academic freedom. <br />
    59. 59. “…senior administrators are disengaged from the web. <br />…And the lack of any formal operational model results in an inefficient use of resources and no real sense of the value and ROI the web provides. ”<br />Mark Greenfield<br />
    60. 60. Build the case for why the web matters<br /><ul><li>Use good data
    61. 61. Tie it to recruitment/ fundraising
    62. 62. Show efficiencies</li></ul>Help leadership understand what you’re doing and why so they’ll stop asking you to do stupid things. <br />Getting buy-in<br />
    63. 63. Hear more from Mark Greenfield on Highered Live:<br /><br />
    64. 64. “…why [is] the centralized-decentralized debate is so often presented as a dichotomy? Can’t our organizations respect both, in their appropriate roles?<br />…the concept of hierarchy … is sometimes confused with power inequality…centralization means power over others.”<br />- Jay Collier<br />
    65. 65.
    66. 66.
    67. 67.
    68. 68. Role of the CMS<br />“If you don’t adapt technology to support your business process, your business process will adapt to your technology.”<br />Colleen Jones in Clout: the Art and Science of Influential Web Content<br />
    69. 69. Rethink roles<br /><ul><li>Requesters submit requests for web content
    70. 70. Providers subject matter experts
    71. 71. Creators develop the content
    72. 72. Reviewers/ approvers consulted before publication online
    73. 73. Publishers get the content online
    74. 74. Community Managers participate in online conversations via social media</li></li></ul><li>Any questions?<br />
    75. 75. Creating the Content PART 3: Architecture<br />
    76. 76.
    77. 77.
    78. 78. There’s more to IA than a sitemap<br />Content Models<br />Taxonomies<br />Controlled Vocabularies<br />
    79. 79.
    80. 80. Stats<br />News<br />Projects<br />Stories<br />Events<br />Website as a platform for interacting with content<br />Videos<br />Bios<br />Images<br />
    81. 81.
    82. 82. 19 billion/year <br />2.16 million/hour 36,000/minute<br />400 billion Lego bricks produced since 1958<br /><br />
    83. 83. Just 6 (2x4) bricks of the same color combine in <br />915,000,000 unique ways<br /><br />
    84. 84. Content Reuse<br />A single piece of content is created once and used in multiple formats and contexts<br />
    85. 85. The 3 Rs of Content Reuse<br />
    86. 86. Re-use<br />1 piece of content, multiple contexts<br />
    87. 87. Re-purpose<br />use parts of a piece of content for different purposes<br />
    88. 88. Re-package<br />multiple documents created in multiple media types<br />
    89. 89. Benefits of Reuse<br /><ul><li>Quick and Easy Updates
    90. 90. Consistency
    91. 91. Knowledge Repository
    92. 92. Extended Reach
    93. 93. Do more with less</li></li></ul><li>Content Reuse: Cautions<br /><ul><li>Context reduces re-usability
    94. 94. Lack of context requires branding of the content itself
    95. 95. Decentralization requires consistency in structure and taxonomy</li></li></ul><li>Structured vs. Unstructured Content<br />
    96. 96. What is Structured Content?<br /><ul><li> A way of separating content from presentation
    97. 97. A way of creating & storing information based on a predefined set of rules
    98. 98. Content that can be parsed and formatted into just about any other structured (or unstructured) format</li></li></ul><li>What is the alternative? <br />Unstructured Content<br /><ul><li>Traditional HTML
    99. 99. Static, freeform
    100. 100. WYSIWYG</li></li></ul><li>Problems with unstructured content<br /><ul><li>Difficult to make site-wide changes to content or layout
    101. 101. Redundancies, inconsistencies, erroneous info
    102. 102. Presentation often coupled with content
    103. 103. Difficult to re-use content</li></li></ul><li>Content is the sum of its parts<br />
    104. 104. Use of Metadata<br />Information used to describe & categorize content<br />Album names<br />Artists<br />Song Titles<br />Album Artwork<br />Ratings<br />Last Played Date<br />Genre<br />Playlists<br />
    105. 105. Metadata<br /><ul><li>Structured/controlled metadata
    106. 106. Categories & Relationships
    107. 107. Content Fields in the Structure
    108. 108. Unstructured/ free form metadata
    109. 109. Tags
    110. 110. Ratings
    111. 111. Usage Data</li></li></ul><li>Content modeling<br />giving consistent structure to your content<br />
    112. 112. Any questions?<br />
    113. 113. Creating the ContentPART 4: Content Design<br />
    114. 114.
    115. 115.
    116. 116.
    117. 117. And remember… <br />forms, instructions, error messages, calls to action, page titles, link labels and photo captions are all content. Give them some love. <br />
    118. 118. Any questions?<br />
    119. 119. Creating the ContentPART 5: Editorial<br />
    120. 120. Editorial is planning the “what and when”<br /><ul><li>Key messages and topics
    121. 121. Voice and tone
    122. 122. Grammar and punctuation guidelines
    123. 123. Copyright
    124. 124. Editorial calendars</li></ul>Check out the Yahoo! Style Guide<br />
    125. 125. Building your brand with message architecture<br />What do you want people to believe about you?<br />What are your key messages?<br />
    126. 126.
    127. 127. Credit: Jessica Hagy<br />
    128. 128.
    129. 129. What’s the message?<br />Without a message, <br />you have nothing to say. <br />
    130. 130. Messages are not content<br />They are a framework<br />for content <br />Drawn from business<br />& user needs<br />
    131. 131. “When your content has built your reputation enough to attract the right people, convincing those people to act is a natural next step.” <br />Colleen Jones, from Clout<br />
    132. 132. Develop a strategy-> <br /> Build the case -> <br /> Present evidence<br />… and let your audience decide<br />
    133. 133.<br />
    134. 134.<br />
    135. 135. Curation is a mix of both TIMELY and TIMELESS content<br />Erin Sceme, “Content Strategist as a Digital Curator”<br /><br />
    136. 136. Flickr: jinxiboo<br />
    137. 137. <ul><li>A compilation of songs (just as websites are collections of content)
    138. 138. Created for a specific someone (consider your audience)
    139. 139. Communicates a specific message (in service of business objectives)
    140. 140. Should elicit a particular response (meet user needs/assist in task completion)</li></ul>Flickr: jinxiboo<br /><br />
    141. 141.
    142. 142. Editorial Calendars<br /><br />
    143. 143. Parts of an editorial calendar<br /><ul><li>Publication or Re-use date
    144. 144. Description
    145. 145. Funnel stage (prospects)
    146. 146. Format (web page, blog post, video, pdf)
    147. 147. Call to action (what do you want them to do?)
    148. 148. Distribution (website, Facebook, Twitter)
    149. 149. Related (emails, tweets, landing pages, other content, registration forms, etc.)
    150. 150. Owner
    151. 151. Status (draft, review, finished)
    152. 152. Review date</li></li></ul><li>Conversation Calendars<br /><br />
    153. 153. Any questions?<br />
    154. 154. Evaluation, Measurement & Testing<br />
    155. 155. Analysis = post hoc<br />Evaluation = strategic<br />
    156. 156. “Too many usability tests focus only on finding information—not on how the information itself works for people.”<br />Ginny Redish<br />
    157. 157.<br />
    158. 158. Some qualitative techniques<br /><ul><li>Focus Groups
    159. 159. Interviews
    160. 160. Observations
    161. 161. Subjective analysis
    162. 162. Environmental Scans</li></li></ul><li>Some quantitative techniques<br /><ul><li>Surveys and questionnaires
    163. 163. Data mining/ modeling</li></li></ul><li>Mixed<br /><ul><li>Web analytics
    164. 164. Usability testing</li></li></ul><li>The qualitative helps give meaning and contextto the quantitative<br />
    165. 165.
    166. 166.
    167. 167. Web analytics<br />Useful for measurement, but also for research<br />Do people do what they say they do?<br />Look for ways the behavioral data supports/refutes what you learned in other research<br />
    168. 168. Analytics can help you see…<br /><ul><li>Where users come from
    169. 169. How they share your content
    170. 170. How your content is being digested
    171. 171. What causes people to leave
    172. 172. What the most popular topics are
    173. 173. Movement between related materials</li></ul><br />
    174. 174. Any questions?<br />
    175. 175. Taking the show on the road<br />
    176. 176.<br />
    177. 177. The incidental publisher<br />incidental (adj):<br />1 : being likely to ensue as a chance or minor consequence<br />2 : occurring merely by chance or without intention or calculation<br />Merriam-Webster Dictionary<br />
    178. 178. How did they become publishers?<br /><ul><li>Without intention? They didn’t intend to become a publishers, did they?
    179. 179. Perhaps it happened by chance (low woman/man on the totem pole, newest employee in the department, they have an iPad).
    180. 180. And of course it’s a minor consequence (the last item on their job description calls this “other duties as assigned”).</li></li></ul><li>
    181. 181. How do you get the information out of the brains of people who know stuff and into the brains of people who can write web copy? <br />– Erin Kissane<br />
    182. 182. Use content templates <br /><ul><li> The page title
    183. 183. A short description of each chunk of content, including formats it can be in (paragraph, bulleted list, etc.)
    184. 184. Examples of each chunk of information, written by actual writers</li></li></ul><li>Developing Publishers<br /><ul><li>Teach them how to conduct simple audience research (i.e. talking to people).
    185. 185. Help them develop their own strategies that align with the institutional strategies.
    186. 186. Jump start efforts one site at a time.
    187. 187. Teach the role of measurement and build-in simple, understandable ways to measure the effectiveness of their sites.
    188. 188. Provide ongoing professional development. </li></li></ul><li>Developing Publishers<br />DON’T:<br /><ul><li>Use vague instructions like “keep your content fresh” and “promote interactivity”
    189. 189. Start and end your education with a “writing for the web” presentation or workshop</li></li></ul><li>Any questions?<br />
    190. 190. J. Todd Bennett<br /><br /><br />@jtoddb on Twitter<br />Adam P. Forrand<br /><br /><br />@4and on Twitter<br />