On Monday, the London Content Strategy Meetup Group held another Content Strategy Lightning Talks event at the Book Club in Shoreditch. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay afterwards and enjoy the bar, but the 8 lightning talks were excellent. If you’re not familiar with the format, a lightning talk is 20 slides which change automatically and the presenter has just 15 seconds per slide. My quick writeups of each talk can be found below.
Gabriel Smy: The UX of A&E – @gabrielsmy
Gabriel recently found himself in hospital with a pulmonary embolism and, surprisingly, the experience taught him a few things about creating better websites.
- Like hospitals, nobody really wants to be on your website. They want to visit, get the information they need and then leave.
- Don’t keep people waiting.
- Remeber that you are dealing with people who are not at their best.
- Small details, like a glass of water in hospital or a simple design feature, can make all the difference.
- Don’t repeat things or make people repeat things unnecessarily.
- Even something painful can be done well, like an injection or online payments, with Visa and the Barclays app given as bad and good examples.
Jennifer Christie: Content Marketing Is Not an Experiment
Jennifer explained how content marketing is not an experiment and that if you treat it like one you won’t resource it appropriately and you’ll handicap yourself from the start. However, when done properly, it will drive demand and build the brand.
- 8/10 CMOs agree that they should be doing some kind of content marketing
- However only 38% of companies are implementing their content strategies with a solid plan in place
- Use the periodic table of content to ensure that your content strategies are successful. This includes making sure you have a real audience, turn your brand into a publisher and creating solid objectives.
Sunny Bains: Curating Content for Individuals
Sunny talked about how she’s attempting to deliver engaging, relevant and up-to-date content for her target audience of engineers.
- Engineers are generally unemotional about content but are also diverse in their interests.
- They want to keep on top of their field, but there is so much information around that it’s difficult to find what’s useful.
- Sunny decided to create a one-stop-shop for news and content, which could be personalised to the user.
- The user chooses which subjects are important to them and their homepage updates accordingly.
Mike Atherton: Building from Brand – @mikeatherton
In this talk, Mike talked about what ‘brand’ really means and why we should dare to be different.
- He states that before starting to build their brand, companies should first decide what values they stand for. For example, quality, value, good customer service etc.
- Building a brand personality should just be about copying Innocent smoothies, otherwise everyone just sounds too nice!
- Above all, a brand’s personality should be unique, authentic and talkable i.e. people want to talk about them.
- He give the example of Avis rental cars who, when trying to compete with rivals Hertz, claimed they were “number two, so we try harder”.
- In summary, you can’t disrupt if you give people more of the same!
Phil Hawksworth: I Can Smell Your CMS – @philhawksworth
Phil explained how you can manage the content on your site in a way that doesn’t degrade the performance in the browser, or ruin the design.
- CMSs are great for clients because they allow the company to edit content themselves and not be indefinitely tied to an agency.
- WYSIWYG editors are not good – they just give clients the power to ruin their sites!
- Certain constraints can be enabling, like URL structure for example.
- Gov.uk is a good example of how a very large website can still function with hundreds of editors and thousands of pages.
Tim Prizeman: Find the Data Goldmine in Your Business – @timprizeman
Tim describes how he managed to get two businesses onto the front pages of national newspapers by utilising the data within their own organisations to create great content.
- One example was Global Expense who used their vast amount of company expenses data to publish various reports and insights.
- This helps reinforce their image as though leaders in this field, as well as gaining them lots of great press coverage.
- This press also turned readers into leads and the company increased sales considerably from the content project.
Darren Bennett: The Power of Stories
Darren believes that storytelling is fundamental to how we interact with our world and each other and his talk explains how a story-centred approach can create powerful user experiences.
- Humans fundamentally only care about three things: food, sex and danger, so get to get people involved in your content or brand you need to engage them, and stories are a great way to do this.
- Humans remember things much better when information is presented as a story.
- Structure is important - remember the main story arcs and use tension.
- Photos are great at telling stories as the brain creates a narrative all by itself.
- Empathy and colour can help to evoke mood and emotion.
- Moving images and audio are arguably the most powerful forms of story telling. Darren suggests watching a movie with no sound and then listening to the audio with the visual, to emphasise the importance of sound.
- General Electric and their data visualisations are a good example of how a company can use content to create engaging stories.
Sophie Dennis: Working in Harmony – @sophiedennis
A life-long amateur musician, Sophie believes that musical performance and notation can teach us a lot about our the practice of web design.
- People always talk about ‘content first’, but being first does not mean that something is the most important.
- This is like a film, in which there are lots of important roles but, ultimately, the director gets their name on it.
- Instead, Sophie says web design is like an orchestra, in which everyone has an equally important role to play with no one real leader.
- The music score relates to the content of a website and the design is like the musician playing the music. We can’t have one without the other.
I really recommend these meetups if you are looking to learn more about content strategy and meet some new people. The next meetup is on Monday 8th July and is a different format which involves a lot more participation, but should be equally as good. Tickets are limited though, so sign up soon if you’re interested.