Three years in a row, I’ve come to Minneapolis. “Come for the lakes, stay for the cakes,” they say at Brain Traffic. And three years in a row, I’ve come to connect with my people, the content strategy community. I’ve come to learn not what I should think, but what I should be thinking about. And yes, with Betty Crocker returning as a sponsor, we come for the cake.
Over this first week in June, Confab 2013 brings together case studies and commiseration of process improvement and how we can do content strategy better. Today I’m liveblogging, in quotes and summaries, live from Minneapolis!
Embrace our paradox and shift it.
“‘We have too much content! And not enough time to create content!” began Kristina Halvorson, opening the day by describing the common plight that plagues so many teams as we confuse quality and utility with the sheer quantity of content we produce, manage, and attempt to sustain. Enumerating the challenges we face again and again, she concluded with two points that mark differentiation in the industry:
- “You are a salesperson.” Learning about content strategy means learning about how to evangelize for content strategy. More traditional, familiar areas of interaction design and user experience consulting don’t demand the same levels of education and advocacy.
- “The conversations we’re having? If we’re not shifting, growing, and evolving the conversation, it’s not working.” Kristina cautioned that if education about content strategy falls flat—if we keep seeing campaigns launch without plans for sustainability, if we fail to budget appropriately for collaboration—then we’re doing it wrong. We’re not framing our messages in the vocabulary and priorities of our internal audiences, whether they’re project managers, developers, account execs, or other UX consultants.
Build a voice through advocacy.
Taking up similar themes of listening, building, and educating, editor and writer Tiffani Jones Brown shared her methods for establishing a voice at Pinterest—noting that “Your company’s voice is your communication style—in writing, design, customer service, etc.” She’s interviewed founders, users, and communicators across the company to understand their communication needs and the feeling they need to build at different points in a transactional experience.
While Pinterest is largely about posting, sharing, and discovering other users’ pins, it supports a very emotional process. “People come to Pinterest not just to do things, but to feel things,” Tiffani described, noting how people use the site for inspiration and ideas. That process influences their tone in difficult messaging, instructional copy, and nomenclature. “Secret boards could’ve been ‘private,’ but we use them when we’re keeping something secret… so for our users, they’re ‘Secret,'” she explained.
More to come this afternoon…