Future Proofing Business with Content Strategy Meetup – 23/01/13

future-proofing business with content strategy

Last night I attended the Future-Proofing Business with Content Strategy Meetup at The Hub in Kings Cross, where I saw two great presentations and got to meet a bunch of lovely content-minded people. The meetup was run by Jonathan Kahn and Richard Ingram of The London Content Strategy Meetup group.

First off, I loved the venue for this meetup. The Hub is a seriously cool co-working space that has hot-desks, meeting rooms and an event space available for hire. The old listed building that houses this space has been modernised with glass walkways, a cafe and walls you can write on – I am very jealous of anyone who gets to work here every day!

the hub kings cross

The Hub at Kings Cross

Onto the presentations…

Future Proofing TUI Travel With Content Strategy by Ros Mackenzie (@Rosmack)

The first presentation focused on how to create structured content for multi-channel businesses. Ros works for TUI Travel and has spent her whole career in the travel sector, so she knows her stuff.

tui travel logo

TUI is the definition of multi-channel with, amongst others, a tour operator, airline, websites, shops, brochures, call centres. This makes it a challenge to create content that is suitable for publication everywhere.

Ros stated that it’s not enough to just work out what content she should create, there is also the why, how, when, where, for whom, how often and what next to think about. Once these questions have been answered she moves onto substance and structure – the content side of the following diagram:

content strategy diagram

Substance

Determining the substance of your content involves ask yourself what content the business and the customers need? Why? Ros does this by looking at the customer journey.

Customer Journey

Ros describes the TUI Travel customer journey as:

  1. Search and book
  2. Prepare
  3. Travel and holiday
  4. Nurture

Obviously, every company is different, so you need to work out what your own customer journey is and how you can give them the right content for each stage of their journey.

tui customer journey

The TUI Customer Journey

Ask yourself, what information do customers need at each stage? Ros recommends using as much research as possible, giving examples of how she asked retail and call centre staff what questions they find themselves answering repeatedly during the ‘search and book’ stage. The answers to these questions were then published as content online and in brochures, making sure customers could find it easily, rather than having to phone the call centre. She also gave the example of using emails within the ‘nurture’ stage: after the customer has returned from their holiday, how do they make sure they become repeat customers? Friendly recommendations for their next holiday are sent periodically, so that TUI always remains in the top of their minds.

Structure

When looking at the structure of the content, Ros asks if the content is structured for customers to find? Is it structured for multi-channel delivery and re-use? e.g. Does the content work on mobiles, tablets, brochures and tweets, as well as the website?

Blobs vs Chunks

When it comes to actually structuring content, Ros references Karen McGrane’s ”Blobs vs Chunks” theory, and explains how she divides each written piece of content into usable sections, or chunks.

The first paragraph of each article is optimised to be around 140 characters so it is suitable for tweeting, posting on Facebook and displays nicely as an introduction on smartphones. The second paragraph is slightly longer, making it viewable on larger devices such as Kindles or 7 inch tablets. The main paragraph is displayed on desktops and large tablets.

Benefits of Structured Content

  • Faster to market – Since we are just creating one piece of content, it’s much faster to get it published
  • Reduced cost – Within the CMS there is just one piece of content which is available for all channels. This makes it easy to update
  • Improved quality – There are no gaps on any channel, since each piece of content has come from one larger piece.
  • Predictability – The tone of voice and writing style is the same across all channels
  • Unlimited delivery – Each piece of content can be used an unlimited amount of times

Ros concludes this section with a great quote, stating that creating great content is simply:

getting the right content to the right customer at the right time.
- Ros Mackenzie

Summary

Ros summarises with the following points:

  • Speak to customers – make sure you understand what they need
  • Content first – Don’t try and create content simply because there is space for it, make sure it has a purpose
  • Reuse strategy – Use one piece of content multiple times across different channels
  • Structured, intelligent content is the foundation for multi-channel business growth

Watch Ros’ full presentation here:

Agile Content Strategy at uSwitchforBusiness by Lauren Pope (@La_Pope)

Lauren Pope’s presentation looked at how we can create the best possible content with limited resources, using Energy Forecaster, one of USwitchforBusiness’ websites, as a case study.

Her underlying process for creating agile content looks like:

ask why, iterate, analyse

When Lauren initially asked the people in the business what kind of content they thought they should write, she was bombarded with ideas: tips, 2000 word guides, videos, ask the expert, guest speakers etc. Considering she only had herself and one designer to create and manage all of the content, it was definitely a case of ‘too much too soon’.

Another problem was that these ideas were ‘What’ ideas, rather than ‘Why’ ideas:

Ask Why

Lauren gave a good example of how to make sure all content ideas are useful and serve a purpose:
“As a ___, I want to ___, in order to___”

ask why not what

She recommends starting with “As a customer, I want to __,” and going from there and stresses that it’s important to make sure people can always justify their content. You need to be tough!

Iteration

Working on the web is different to print – You don’t just get one chance to publish. You can edit, change or even remove content that isn’t working. Lauren suggests spending just 20 minutes on creating a minimum viable product to publish straight away and then, if it gets a good response, you can improve it and if it doesn’t work you’ve only wasted 20 minutes and not 2 weeks.

Analyse

After one iteration, look at what didn’t work, what did work, and make some actions for improvement. Using data from your analytics package is key. For example, content that has a large amount of visits but a low time on site and high bounce rate means that your content may need improving in order to make sure those visitors  find what they are looking for. Once you have discovered the problems, iterate and analyse again.

iterate and analyse

Summary

  • Content shouldn’t stand still - Always iterate, analyse and repeat

View Lauren’s Deck on Slideshare here or in the embed below:

Or you can watch the full presentation here:

Fishbowl Panel & Speed Dating

The second part of the meetup involved a panel, where the questioners had to go and sit up front with the panel. This was something I’ve never come across before and it was a really good way of breaking the ice and making sure everyone got involved.

Various topics were discussed, including how to get senior management to buy into content strategy, how to work with your SEO team, how to alter content for different audiences on different social media platforms and the best way to get access to developers’ precious time.

For the speed dating, we were divided into 4 groups, who then rotated around 4 different discussions: Gather Content, the sponsors of the event, talked about their content management system, the two presenters answered any questions we might have been too shy to ask during the panel and using post-its we discussed problems that we have come across when trying to create or implement content strategies.

gather content sticker

I <3 free stickers

Since this was my first meetup I didn’t really know what to expect from the evening, but I found it really interesting and took a lot away from it. I particularly liked Lauren’s agile content process, with the focus on iterating and testing your content to see what works and what doesn’t.

I met some really nice people too, and I think we all enjoyed having a good moan during the speed dating section where we talked about the problems we were having with communication across teams, budgets or recruiting.

content strategy meetup learnings

The next Content Strategy Meetup is Content Strategy Lightning Talks on the 26th February. It promises to be an exciting one as there are 12 speakers who each get 5 minutes and 20 slides – that’s just 15 seconds per slide – to get their point across. Hope to see you there!

Image credits:

The Hub photo: http://kingscross.the-hub.net/space/hire-our-space
Content Strategy Diagram from Brain Traffic: http://blog.braintraffic.com/2011/03/brain_traffic_lands_quad/
TUI Customer Journey photo from Lauren Pope on Twitter: https://twitter.com/La_Pope/status/294162877886124032/photo/1
Slides from Lauren Pope on Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/la_pope/agile-content-strategy
Others: Me.

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