27 February 2014

LIKE 52: Content Strategy

It is a sign of a good event that I do not get to write it up until a few days, weeks or even months afterwards. A good concert I can describe immediately but an event that gets me thinking takes longer as I need time to let the new thoughts organise themselves/

That is why on 28 March I am writing up LIKE52 which happened on 27 February (that's the date I've posted it under).

The subject of the event was Content Strategy and as everything we write is "content" it is a useful area to have a strategy on. Other people thought so too and the meeting was packed.

We were back in the The Queens Arms in Warwick Way by Victoria where we had been in November. If this is to be LIKE's new home for a while then that suits me fine as living in south-west London I am a lot closer to Victoria than I am to Farringdon. Location apart, the new venue was much like the previous ones, a cosy room above a trendy pub.

Our guide for the evening was Lauren Pope of Brilliant Noise. She came well prepared with a presentation and exercises for us to do. She also tried some innovative technology to broadcast her presentation to our phones and tablets but the pub's wi-fi was not up to the task and we had to abandon that plan. The room was small enough for that not to matter.

Lauren took us through their framework for developing a Content Strategy. There was nothing particularly new in this approach but it looked sensible enough and pieces did fit well together.

The best part of the session was the way that Lauren gave a brief explanation of each step and then gave us an exercise to work on in small groups. We then discussed what we had done with the whole room.

This was a very effective way to embed and extend the learning.

As usual I tried to juggle participating in the discussions, taking notes and tweeting (though a search for #LIKE52 tweets suggests that I failed at the later) and then I played around with the notes as I wrote them up to give them structure and to add further thoughts.

I had a range of examples in mind as I did the exercises and these were the various small organisations that I have some content responsibilities for (usually maintaining their websites).

Purpose. This is a bit like a mission statement and explains simply what the organisation is trying to achieve with its content. It needs to be urgent and specific.

My example, the Kingston upon Thames Society wants its name/brand to be better known to encourage membership.

Principles. These are the rules of the game. The Government has ten including start with needs, do less, do the hard worked to make it simple, sharing is more important than control.

Mine were we have no secrets and members get more than the public.

Principles are good but how do you get people to follow them?

Platforms. These are the authoring tools, e.g. CMS, used to create the content and the publishing tools used to make it available.

In my examples the CMS is defined for each website and I use Twitter and Facebook to promote the content. I also issue press releases to the local newspaper.

Processes. Robust processes are needed to create, publish and evaluate content. They need to include archive and destruction as well.

In my case I have got a simple list of actions for publishing content which, for example, has me write the full version of the story for my personal blog, an edited and less opinionated version for the members' newsletter and a summary of this for our website. New entries on the website are announced on Twitter and Facebook.

People. This is the usual step of matching the process steps to the organisation so that everybody knows what their responsibilities are.

In my case the people part is easy, I am the webmaster and somebody else writes the newsletter.

Performance. This is about measuring success and is harder than it looks. Simple measures, such as Shares and Likes, are easy to count but are easy to distort and do not link directly to the original purpose defined in the first step.

Forrester's Engagement Framework is one way that this can be addressed but it still lacks the link between the Content Strategy and business outcomes. This is not surprising as advertising has always had the same problem.

In my case I am happy to use the simplest metrics, page visits etc., and to hope that these are an indicator of the impact of my content.

Summary. It was an excellent session and my brief notes do not do it justice.

Close. Then the food came and we moved to the next stage of the evening with more conversations and, in my case at least, more drinks to go with my meal. I managed to move around a little to catch-up with some people and also to congratulate Lauren on her presentation.

LIKE 52 was Classic LIKE with great content and motivated people.

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