Content Strategy is a VERB, and other lessons learned at ConFab.

Debbie Williams

Written by Debbie Williams on Tue, Nov 29, 2011

logo confabLast week I spent an inspiring two days at ConFab, the content strategy conference hosted by Brain Traffic in MN.  I left enlightened, excited and slightly overwhelmed. My head is still buzzing with a dizzying array of ideas, but there are a few in particular that really stand out and will make a positive and lasting impact on the work that we do.

Big and small brands alike can tell stories through content.
Content is your story; Content strategy is storytelling. From Walt Disney World to a south Florida plastic surgeon, stories are being told through content and delivering spectacular results. Unique storytelling in the form of videos, written content, e-books and blogs, creates the customer experience and keeps people engaged.

Start at the end and work your way forward.
Ian Alexander from Eat Media and Margot Bloomstein of Appropriate, Inc. both suggested starting content development with the customer thank you email. Everyone notices the home page, but it’s the end of the experience that lingers and is savored. Start your story on smaller scale and build, nailing the voice for all other content. It’s not about creating good content, it’s about creating a good experience.

If you fail to plan, plan to fail. Enough said.

Strategy is a VERB.
Melissa Rach from Brain Traffic said to think of strategy in content strategy as a verb, not a noun. Content strategy is a service business.  You are serving businesses through content strategy, and directly through those businesses serving the user. Content strategy should create clarity, align stakeholders, help people make smart decisions and operationalize change.  Strategy should be tactical (and actionable) to survive in the real world.

Content is alive.
Erin Kissane from Brain Traffic gave a very insightful presentation on content strategy. The vein running throughout her talk, one filled with many thought-provoking references to patterns and nature, was that content is alive! As famed mathematician/architect and author of  ”A Pattern Language” Christopher Alexander noted, patterns that have more life make the people who interact with them more human and alive. Your content should have life and be accessible, searchable, findable, sharable, selectable, self-aware, portable and usable in many ways. Great examples she gave were Wikipedia and Twitter, places where thousands of people come together to create content. They are vibrant, lively communities that allow you to interact with people from all over the globe and make you feel connected to the world in an ambient, less artificial way.

Every activity is an act of content.
Valeria Maltoni of the Conversation Agent explained that content is a way to be social. The size, place and origin don’t matter. It’s what we do as social people/human beings – recommend, share, etc.- that creates an opportunity for producing content. Everything you do as a company and everyone in it should be interconnected and involved in creating content.

There are dozens more ideas from ConFab enmeshing themselves in my content conscience. I can’t wait to see how they surface and help us plan for and create great content. How have you seen content strategy evolving?


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