Content Strategists Are Facilitators of Human Communication

I’ve been working on an article for a trade publication for information scientists that explores how they can use journey mapping to source information from the social interactions of internal stakeholders, turning those interactions into knowledge that can be shared with organizations at large. My general argument is that as information scientists/content strategists/user experience designers, we are facilitators of human communication. Whether we are trying to deliver content to customers to try to get them to buy ski boots, or designing better tools to allow communities of practice to share best practices, our role is to step back and analyze how people within a certain environment communicate, then design systems, processes, and content that brokers the transfer of information between people.

Knowledge sharing is the basis of human communication. When we have conversations with others, we are transferring knowledge from one person to another, that they internalize and may use at some other point in life. The format of the information being shared – verbal, written or visual – doesn’t matter. As content strategists, we make knowledge transfer more efficient and effective.

We too often focus on the minutia of content strategy – data models, user flows, editorial processes, content management systems, etc. But, the core of what we do is facilitate human communication. If we focus more on understanding how people communicate and receive information, we may see more innovation in the content strategy field.

Are Today’s Content Management Systems Holding Back Content Strategy?

I have been doing content strategy and working with content management systems of all kinds (WCMS, SMMS, MCMS) for the past seven years. I have worked on websites and applications that use almost every popular open source solution, and had the misfortune of working on some that use proprietary systems as well. When I look back at all of those CMS’s and see how they have evolved to meet the evolving needs of content creators/editors, most are not keeping up with the times.

We are in a period in this industry where content management is multi-channel and multi-platform (bet you have read that in a few dozen articles). It’s cliche to say, but true. Yet, most content management systems do not support the need for organizations to publish a blog post or report to their website, and repurpose some of that content for Tumblr and Twitter.

The needs of content creators have evolved beyond the need for systems that enable them to publish content to a website by filling out a long web form. Content management systems of the future will enable organizations to publish content to any channel they have a presence on; repurpose content for multiple channels; give content creators greater insight into how their content is performing and why; and help organizations curate content that will resonate with their audience.

Imagine if your CMS were smart enough to tell you that you can drive 10% greater engagement on Twitter if you continue to repurpose your long-form video into 10-second clips and tag them with specific hashtags. Or, your CMS automatically recommends articles and Youtube videos that you could share with your followers on social media that support a new article you published to your newsroom.

Content management systems of the future will not just help you more easily publish content to all of the digital platforms you are on. They will make you a smarter, more efficient content marketer.

The Changing Digital Landscape pt.1 – All Content is Created Equal

This post was originally published on the 4Site Studios blog

Last week, I had a discussion with one of my fellow panelists from last month’s NetSquared DC event “What’s on the Horizon for 2013”. She said she wished I had more time to delve into the six points I made in my presentation, so I decided to turn them into a blog series.

My “predictions” for 2013 and beyond are driven by a few larger trends happening in marketing and business. The world is becoming a more connected place, with mobile driving internet accessibility. The Pew Internet and Family Project reports that 45% of adults in the US own smart phones, and 55% of adult cell phone owners access the internet via their mobile device. Layer on top of that the exponential growth in the number of consumers accessing the internet through connected devices, such as TV’s, game consoles, tablets, etc., and that people will soon access the internet in their cars, on their watch, and even in the shower.  Gone are the days where you are restricted to accessing the internet via a desktop computer. The internet is everywhere. Enter the Web of Things.

Consumers don’t see the internet as something that is tied to a specific digital device. Recent studies show that most teens and young adults do not see the a difference between accessing the internet via their laptop and mobile phone. The internet is the internet, no matter where you access it. This concept is very disruptive to marketing.

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When in doubt, don’t build it

I have been pretty tied up with other projects the past couple of weeks, and haven’t posted an update on a product/platform I blogged about building a month or two ago. In short, I killed the idea of building it.

Shortly after I wrote that blog post, I read the book the Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Eric Ries idea of doing product testing before making any significant investment in building technology resonated with me. I wasn’t doing this full time, so it would have been a colossal waste of time if I were to built it and no one used it.

Continue reading “When in doubt, don’t build it”

“Lean Digital Campaigns” Post on Care2’s Frogloop blog

I recently co-authored a blog post with Matt Kelley of Blue State Digital on how nonprofit organizations can apply the Lean Startup approach to developing digital campaigns and technology. This quote sums up our thoughts quite nicely:

Too many nonprofits, like many businesses, still invest time and money in products (such as campaigns or microsites) before they’ve articulated a testable hypothesis and actionable metrics. There’s another way. The iterative process behind lean thinking could mean a revolution in the way we organize and mobilize constituents online. To paraphrase Eric Ries, nonprofits need to build quickly, measure wisely, and learn, learn, learn.

Check out the post and let us know your thoughts.