So Many Elements, So Little Time

Who would have thought a few weeks ago that I’d have any idea about content strategy? On top of that, I had absolutely no clue how many facets there were to it. This blog will concentrate on some of the people behind the scenes of content strategy and their individual roles in making it all happen.

So much of what we do is group work and it can be challenging at times. The folks I’ve listed below all need to collaborate and work well together but unlike some other industries, they have incredibly small amounts of time to produce and execute their work.

  • User Experience
  • Design
  • Information Architecture
  • Copywriting
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Marketing
  • Business stakeholders

User Experience

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This work is so freaking cool. Mostly it’s research to figure out people’s behaviors and motivation. User-Centered Design is what drives this research. It ranges from basic interviews and surveys to first click testing and prototypes. This type work can be very impactful on design and content based on the results.

Design

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The design for your project is incredibly important and giving the designer a clear understanding of what the vision is for the project is the key. The designer needs to know the who/why/what/when/how in order to produce that integral piece of the puzzle.

Information Architecture

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Information Architecture provides the backbone to the project. It gives the project structure and form that no other piece can do but of course they all need to intersect to truly come to life. Seems to me that IA needs to use the user experience data to create a highly functioning product.

Copywriting

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So it’s probably horrible to admit that I didn’t even know exactly what a copywriter did until earlier today? Well, there, I admitted it. So the learning outcomes for this blog is now I know, woo hoo! Copywriting is the execution of ideas; content strategy is their organization and measurement. Seems like these jobs can blend together at times but also need to be separate to have great success.

Search Engine Optimization

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So I didn’t have time to read everything out there on SEO and I’m getting the feeling like there could be a whole college degree created around the topic.  SEO is all about hits and visibility.  How many people can you get to your product.  It’s just like in the old days when companies would try tricks like AAAAAA Moving Company just so they would be the first listing in the ole phone book.

Marketing

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The marketing piece to the puzzle is there to support the content and to push it out there for all to see.  Content is always most important but if it’s not marketed well, you’re sunk!

Overall, each area needs a strong team or at least one person’s focus to be successful.  I can’t see where you can cut out any of these areas at all.  What kills me is how I didn’t know anything about all these huge fields that are out there until I started this class.

 

Our Last Class :(

So the last class was bitter sweet for me.  Honestly, I’m usually super psyched about a last class but not so much with this one.  This semester went very quick for me and there’s been a ton to do in this last two weeks of the semester.  Having the panel at the end was a nice way to wrap things up but it could have been earlier in the semester for me to put things into perspective.  But that’s just me we are talking about!

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I was happy to meet everyone and if they hadn’t introduced themselves I think I could have picked our book’s author out from the crowd.  She dropped those all important terms we learned about this semester effortlessly in her conversations with us.

I love that common thread all the panelists have which is passion in what they do. Whether is was Georgy doing nerdy things cause she likes to do nerdy things or Margot who seems to be able to perfectly describe just about anything and is certainly an expert in the field.

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Nikita as well with her immense current event knowledge.  I never really thought about the major news outlets and how they are distributing their content to their users.  Currently it seems like it’s all about how fast you can get it out to the user but there’s also the where and how that I never put a lot of thought into.  Sometimes I wonder how people keep up with how fast things are changing.

This class has been a lot of fun for me since it isn’t the typical setting or a typical topic for me. I’ve learned about this whole new world of professionals out there working on things that the everyday person has no idea about. Week by week it became clear to me not only how important a content strategy is to a company but also how incredibly important it is to find a good content strategist to guide the way.

I’m incredibly appreciative whenever I have a chance to meet and talk with experts in any field.  I find this type of interaction so helpful and the iSchool is generally good about giving their students this type of opportunity.Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 2.37.44 PM

If you’re interested in staying in touch,

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/melissa-lowry/61/68b/153

 

Reflection on Creating a Content Strategy

Man was I freaked out when you said you were going to put someones real life business in my hands. Maybe I take things too serious or just really like to do things well but it seemed like an incredibly big task. What gave me motivation to do a good job on this is the fact that after meeting Jessica and Carmen is they are the cutest damn people I’ve met in a long time. Walking into their store is like walking into their home. They cherish this business and it is in their blood. Carmen has been around a long time and really knows what he’s doing. He and Jessica have this cute love-hate relationship that I’m sure any dad and grown daughter have especially working together all day long

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This is the first class where I had the opportunity to have real world experience. It brings on a whole new level of pressure that I haven’t had in other classes. Many undergrad classes force you into these pretend situations, which although give a person an idea as to how it will be there is nothing compared to the real thing. Enabling a student to get this type of experience is invaluable.

I can’t tell you how many times I told my boyfriend that I was nuts for signing up for this class. I’m not lying, you can ask him. I felt like a fish out of water for much of the class. I think because I’m not used to being so unknowledgeable on a topic and I hated it. As the classes went on I realized that I could do it and started to make good connections with the material. What really got me was after my meeting with Jessica and Carmen they both told me how much I’d already helped them. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Seriously…me…helping you?!?! But I really did help and I’m proud of that.

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I truly hope that they find more tidbits on information in my project that they will use to help their content strategy. After getting to know them a bit, I think they will. Jessica seems like a sponge for good useful information and I think I gave her a bunch to use.

I got a tutorial on Google Analytics so I could speak somewhat intelligently on the topic. There’s so much to know there and I think I’ve got a good grasp on it. It’s an area that Jessica and Carmen could utilize more if they put some effort into it. Looking into the analytics I found that people aren’t going to her site from her social media posts and that bummed me out big time. She is working hard on those and there isn’t any response there.   The quick simple fix that I found was she’s never linking the site on her posts…EVER. If they ignore everything I wrote and just pick up on that, then I’ll consider this a success.

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Overall, I had an amazing experience working on this project and I really hope I helped them in even a small way.

Happy Holidays,

Melissa

You Never Know Who’s Actually Reading Your Blog

A poorly written blog makes you look bad on so many levels.  It doesn’t matter if your blog is on jellybean flavors or international affairs, if there are grammatical issues you’re done!  With that in mind, you should treat your blog post like you would a resume or cover letter for the job of your dreams.  Your resume is a selling tool for yourself just like that blog post is for your career.

So what seems to be the most important rule when creating a blog??  Editing!  But not just editing…  I think you need to add the word polish as well.  Editing for spelling and grammar of course but adding that coat of polish to a piece that you’re putting out for any and all to see is just so crucial.

http://bit.ly/1tzvVrK

http://bit.ly/1tzvVrK

This advice is coming from someone who is not a professional writer and I’ve never blogged a minute in my life.  BUT, I know I’m on to something.  I can only use my current knowledge base to refer to and right now I’m trolling through hundreds of applications for a job I need to fill.  First I start with the resume.  I look for a clean format, appropriate spacing, font that’s legible and I can’t stand when people use odd colors.  As soon as I hit a spelling error or something that’s off…I’m done.  If they make it past my resume test, the cover letter is next.  I look at the date to make sure it’s correct and whom they address the letter to.  Also, if the person has taken the time to look at the position and the company then I’d say they would get to the first interview stage.  Correlate that to someone who’s reading your blog.  In the world we live in, it’s takes a lot to grab someone’s attention.  Once you’ve got them to your page, why screw it up with stupid mistakes?  Why lose your chance at that one reader who might start reading your blog religiously?

 

Here are the tips I see as most important for blogging (or the perfect resume):

  • Have someone else edit your work.  You need to have an extra set of eyes on the document because you’re rarely going to catch your own mistakes.  You could pay someone to do it, or your mom might be the next best.  She’s got your best interest at heart.
  • Take your time to truly polish the work.  Sometimes things sound funny or impressive one day and then suck the next day when you reread your work.
  • Have a true and deep-down love for what you’re blogging about.  That’s the only way you’ll come off as being authentic.  If you’re trying to create a following, you need to have passion.
Alt Stages of Blogging

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremiah_owyang/684567906

Again, this is all coming from a complete novice but if you read the tips again you’ll see that they will work for blogging but maybe even landing that dream job too.

The articles in this week’s reading were incredibly enlightening for me.  The article on all the things not to do,  34 Things You’re Doing Wrong, made me realize that there’s a lot more to know about this than I’d originally thought.  But again, it’s all about how much you want to put into it.  And/or how successful do you want to be.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/7151143223

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/7151143223