Hanging with Margot, Georgy, and Niketa

For our last class, we had a great Google Hangout with three content strategists: Margot Bloomstein, author of Content Strategy at Work and founder/CEO of Appropriate, Inc.; Georgy Cohen, Associate Creative Director, Content Strategy at OHO Interactive, and co-founder of Meet Content LLC; and Niketa Patel, Managing Director of Rebel Media Labs at RebelMouse.

Margot Takeaways

In terms of being a content strategist, Margot solves the same type problems she faced as a designer not through color, typography, and density of information on the page, but now verbally through style, tone, and different content types. When talking about the importance of writing as a content strategist, it is naturally a large part of her job and she considers it a form of problem solving. However, she also uses her artistic background to visually solve problems. Also coming from an artistic academic background this definitely resonated with me.

Niketa Takeaways

It was great hearing how Nikita reached out to others (in particular AJC and RebelMouse) to talk about what they were doing and how she was able to talk to them about what was happening at the organization’s content strategy-wise. Niketa also stressed the importance of setting aside time to as we say in the creative world, “work your craft.” She sets aside time to write and to learn more about what is happening in the industry. It is easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of a project, but a content strategist must also keep up with what is happening within the content strategy community.

Georgy Takeaways

Despite the overabundance of buzzwords nowadays, Georgy reminded us that storytelling is not “a dumb buzzword.” As she so eloquently stated, “Writing isn’t words on a page, writing is in how you think, how you construct, how you have that sense of inquiry, and that sense of narrative.” As a writer it is important to be able to communicate to the audience to create a meaningful impact.

Content Strategy in a Mobile Environment

Based on the Mashable article “Why having a mobile site is now even more important,” my question concerned how does mobile affect how a content strategist performs their job. Niketa pointed out that it was very important to deconstuct a story and tell it in a more concise way. With the growing emphasis on visual content, it must also be created with mobile in mind.

Margot also brought up the fact that the current editorial/publishing culture will play a large part of creating a mobile content strategy. Traditional long-form content creators may need to learn how to adjust their writing to fit a modular platform. So although Margot thought that content did not necessarily need to be short, she agreed with Niketa the importance of creating chunks of content that is more suitable for mobile devices.

Georgy brought up a great point that mobile platforms force content strategists to revisit core questions like what content is being created, what is important, who are we talking to, and most importantly, what does the content need to reach the audience. These are issues that were not a problem a few years ago. Georgy doesn’t think that this is a problem and as Margot brings up the mobile web forces brands a chance to go back to the fundamental questions that should be asked at the beginning of any initiative.

Final Thoughts

As emphasized by all three women and even what I’ve seen reading the occasional Twitter chats, the content strategy community is friendly and willing to share their insights with others. Sometimes, it may lead to future employment, but it will always make you a better content strategist.

Post Script

I also enjoyed this chat on a more personal level–Margot was a fellow creative, artistic person; Georgy was a fellow nerd who geeks out about the Internet and technology; and Niketa was my fellow South Carolina and Atlanta connection (yes, I have heard about Francis Marion and was actually accepted there). Thank you Kelly and Jenn for getting such a great panel.

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

 

Content experts emphasize the growing importance of mobile, technology

As a panelist pointed out, content strategy isn’t something new. It’s not something like social media strategy that has emerged with the popularity of technology and online brands. Content strategy has been around for a long time, in its simplest form helping brands deliver their messages to consumers. But the oncoming importance of mobile and technology has certainly changed the ways content strategists thing and how brands are delivering content.

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A panel of experts recently discussed this emergence of technology and mobile. On hand was:

Georgy Cohen

  • Associate creative director of content strategy at Oho Interactive, a digital agency that develops strategies for brands in higher education, travel and healthcare.
  • Co-founder of Meet Content, helping brands in higher education develop successful content.

Niketa Patel 

  • Managing Director in the Rebel Media Lab at  RebelMouse, a content curation platform that allows brands to bring content from all over the web to one landing page.
  • Formerly worked in social at CNN Money and ABC News.

The question about a mobile emphasis was greeted by Margot with a groan, as mobile has certainly given content strategists headaches, but Niketa chimed in, calling it “an incredibly exciting time to be working in content strategy.” She discussed the shift from telling stories in current media to telling stories on mobile and how those two things were different. On mobile, in order to reach an audience the content has to be short, concise and to-the-point. Niketa recommended deconstructing a story in order to tell it on mobile. Rather than just putting content from other media on mobile, it’s important to repurpose it, making it visual and something that the audience will actually want to consume.

But it’s also about the technology that’s helping make it easier to think “mobile-first” as Nikita said. She talked about BuzzFeed’s CMS and how there’s a mobile preview as well as a desktop preview before posting. It’s important for companies to adopt technology like this or they’ll never truly be putting mobile as a priority. For too long, brands have been putting mobile to the side and it’s finally come to a point when audiences are demanding mobile as a first option.

Margot brought up an interesting point about how it’s about more than the technology, it’s about the editorial process and culture that supports that technology. If the entire process doesn’t emphasize mobile-first, it can’t be successful. “In order for content to be mobile-friendly, I would argue that it doesn’t just have to be short… but it needs to be modular,” she said. “It needs to be in chunks, not blobs… And to do that, the back-end content management system needs to support that type of content creation.”

But is this really any different that what content strategy has been since its early days? Georgy argues that going back to the core principals of content strategy is all you need to be successful on mobile. You must continue to ask the question like:

  • What’s important?
  • Who are we talking to?
  • How are we reaching them?
  • What does the content need to achieve its goal?

This is the key. While the medium of content strategy has changed over the years, the core principals have stayed the same. Mobile is just another medium content strategists are finding ways to deliver messages on.

4 Tips for Becoming a Content Strategist

Despite the fact that content strategy has been around for many years, content strategist positions have recently become a highly sought after job as the phrase ‘content strategy’ continues to garner buzz across industries.

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, what’s content strategy? The Content Strategy Consortium defines content strategy as “the practice of planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.” So, as a content strategist, you’d likely have some hand in the organization’s online messaging and branding, information architecture, editorial strategy and writing, search engine optimization, metadata strategy, content management and channel distribution strategies.

Does this sound like something you’d love? If so, let’s keep going.Content Strategy Panel

Based on a panel between Margot Bloomstein, author of Content Strategy at Work and founder of Appropriate, Inc.; Georgy Cohen, Associate Creative Director, content strategy at OHO Interactive and co-founder of Meet Content LLC; and Niketa Patel, Managing Director of Rebel Media Lab; there were 4 recurring themes that would help anyone seeking to become a content strategist.

 

Tip for becoming a content strategist

1. You must love (and be good at) problem solving. Content strategy’s purpose is to solve a business problem. Depending on the needs of an organization and the business goals they have, your role as a content strategist will look differently. Margot regularly solves business problems through style, tone, and different content types, and Georgy explained the importance of asking the right questions and acting like a journalist so you can fully grasp the business problems at hand.

Tip for becoming a content strategist

2. You need to be able to synthesize information and create order out of chaos. You may not be the one writing daily public-facing content, however, there’s certainly a lot you’ll need to write. Once you determine how content strategy can be used to solve a business problem, Georgy explained how it’s up to you to synthesize the information and convey it to your team as well as your clients. Some common content strategy deliverables include a message map, editorial strategy, style guide, workflow diagrams and much more. All of these require a strong writing ability to convey the proper strategy.

Tip for becoming a content strategist

3. You’ve got to have an open mind and be hungry for new challenges. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to land your dream job right away, so you’ll need to be open to other positions. Margot’s advice is to take a position at an agency and learn from those who have been in the industry for a while. You should work with several clients from different industries so you can see how content strategy differs depending on the business problems at hand. After you have quite a bit of varied work under your belt, perhaps you may be interested in consulting. If that’s the case, make sure you’re well networked as Georgy mentioned that it’s likely the only way you’ll earn work once you first get started.

Tip for becoming a content strategist

4. You’ve got to network and reach out to those within the industry. People are very well networked within content strategy. This means you need to be as well. Fortunately, people within the industry are incredibly friendly and most are happy to give advice and point you in the right direction. Niketa explained that she got to where she was today through her network. Her biggest advice to someone seeking a position in content strategy is to be open to meeting new people and to be the person at the table with the ideas. You won’t make it very far within the industry being a wallflower.

These are by no means a fool-proof or full list of how you could become a content strategist, but these 4 tips are certainly a good start. Now it’s up to you to take the first step.

Are you a content strategist? What advice would you give to someone seeking a position in content strategy?

 

Last class: Content strategist on content in mobile platform

On the last day of the class, we have the chance to hear a panel of professional content strategist to share their experience in the content industry. They told us about how they started in the business and many valuable key factors to be successful to stay in the content business. One of the key factors I learnt from this experience is their opinion on content in mobile search. I will reflect upon their idea and provide some of my insight in the novel content ecosystem.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to use SEO to increase your rankings, you simply crammed your website as full of keywords as possible. Some less scrupulous web designers crammed their sites full of popular, but irrelevant, keywords. Of course, that only worked for websites who only wanted to display ads and were not concerned with getting visitors to come back.

mobile-app-development

Mobile users are different from desktop users. Just as you don’t get to decide what platform your visitors use to access your site (they do), the same philosophy applies to your content development.

Let your users tell you what content they want to see. How can you do this? One great way is by leveraging query logs. Look at what those logs tell you about what users want to see. Just as Google will look at query logs to determine what questions to answer next, Britton applied the same strategy to his website and let user traffic tell him which celebrities the users themselves wanted information about. When queries came in and he had no corresponding content, he created that content. In essence, user demand drove the content creation.

Perhaps the most important SEO factor after creating good content is good keyword research. There are a variety of tools that allow you to discover the specific ways that people may be searching for your content.

You want to create content using those keywords, the actual search terms people are using, so you can produce content that effectively “answers” that query. Quality content should produce meaningful interactions with users. Search engines may try to measure this interaction – engagement – in a variety of ways.

For example, how long do users stay on your page? Did they search, click through to your listing but then immediately “bounce” back to the results to try something else? That “pogosticking” behavior can be measured by search engines and could be a sign that your content isn’t engaging.

Conversely, are people sending a relatively long time reviewing your content, in relation to similar content on other sites? That “time on site” metric or “long click” is another type of engagement that search engines can measure and use to assess the relative value of content.

Mobile has a drastically user experience from desktop, however, from the ideas of the content strategist in our panel session, I learn that the core factor regarding whether a page is interesting enough to attract tractions is not too different from the desktop market. I believe that as a content strategist, our job is to find the subtle difference and recreate our content layout to cater to the readers in the most friendly way.

 

 

 

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

.Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 1.27.48 PM

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

Last class: Content strategist on content in emerging mobile platform

In the last day of the class, we have the chance to hear a panel of professional content strategist to share their experience in the content industry. They told us about how they started in the business and many valuable key factors to be successful to stay in the content business. One of the key factors I learnt from this experience is their opinion on content in mobile search. I will reflect upon their idea and provide some of my insight in the novel content ecosystem.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to use SEO to increase your rankings, you simply crammed your website as full of keywords as possible. Some less scrupulous web designers crammed their sites full of popular, but irrelevant, keywords. Of course, that only worked for websites who only wanted to display ads and were not concerned with getting visitors to come back.

Mobile users are different from desktop users. Just as you don’t get to decide what platform your visitors use to access your site (they do), the same philosophy applies to your content development.

Let your users tell you what content they want to see. How can you do this? One great way is by leveraging query logs. Look at what those logs tell you about what users want to see. Just as Google will look at query logs to determine what questions to answer next, Britton applied the same strategy to his website and let user traffic tell him which celebrities the users themselves wanted information about. When queries came in and he had no corresponding content, he created that content. In essence, user demand drove the content creation.

Perhaps the most important SEO factor after creating good content is good keyword research. There are a variety of tools that allow you to discover the specific ways that people may be searching for your content.

You want to create content using those keywords, the actual search terms people are using, so you can produce content that effectively “answers” that query. Quality content should produce meaningful interactions with users. Search engines may try to measure this interaction – engagement – in a variety of ways.

For example, how long do users stay on your page? Did they search, click through to your listing but then immediately “bounce” back to the results to try something else? That “pogosticking” behavior can be measured by search engines and could be a sign that your content isn’t engaging.

Conversely, are people sending a relatively long time reviewing your content, in relation to similar content on other sites? That “time on site” metric or “long click” is another type of engagement that search engines can measure and use to assess the relative value of content.

Mobile has a drastically user experience from desktop, however, from the ideas of the content strategist in our panel session, I learn that the core factor regarding whether a page is interesting enough to attract tractions is not too different from the desktop market. I believe that as a content strategist, our job is to find the subtle difference and recreate our content layout to cater to the readers in the most friendly way.

 

Group Moderator

It was very entertaining acting as the group moderator. As you have the biggest responsibility for the week, you are the class leader. Being the class leader entitles you to talk about different article regarding to content management in the news as well keep the conversation flowing. This was probably the most important part of being the moderator. I decided to speak about how the use of mobile devices fuels the content management industry today. As we are all always on the go having mobile content is a major key to success.

Whenever groups of people get together, two things are usually true:

1. Everyone sees the world differently, no matter how similar their points of view may be.

2. Everyone thinks their view is the right one

Ten tips to being a great group moderator are:

  1. Be Neutral and Objective
  2. Create a nice environment
  3.  Be clear
  4. Keep it simple
  5. Be Prepared
  6. Encourage Conversation
  7. Be able to think of two things at once
  8. Be focused
  9. Be Timely
  10. Be Fun

These are some key guidelines of what you should follow as being a good group moderator/blogger for the week. The moderator really need to understand his/her group to be able to know the academic level they are at. This will make for smooth talk throughout the group.

 

Reflecting on Being Moderator

I wanted to just reflect on being moderator. It was a very interesting and fun week! I enjoyed being able to give some insight to the class. The highlight of being moderator was the ability to control the conversation. I could only imagine the feeling of having a blog or website with a huge following. Being able to lead the class in the week long discussion was awesome!

It was very cool to be able to voice my opinion and get the class thinking about topics that interested me, but it was frustrating at times. I wish there was more engagement overall. I felt that I posted interesting topics but that the minimal amount of students replied and interacted with my posts. I also felt that several students just were not interested in creating a conversation with my posts. Although this was hard at times, I was still motivated to create great content that was both relevant to the class and interesting to the students.

I did feel very rewarded knowing that the students that interacted daily were very appreciative and interested in the blog posts. I fully understand why some students were maybe not interested. I tried my best to interest every student though! I spent my fair share of time focusing on students who I knew were interested in joining the conversation.

One thing I learned was that keeping a conversation with people via a blog, or any online platform is very difficult. In fact, it is even more difficult to do EVERY SINGLE DAY! Some people have plans or strict schedules which just make it harder for those people to commit time each and every day to interacting with an online community.  Therefore, the overall job of interacting with students every day was very difficult.

Overall, I felt that I captured my audience’s attention regularly. As I reflect on this project, I wish we had to blog every other day. I feel that this would have enabled me to create a more effective strategy and overall weekly calendar that would have better interacted with the target audience.  I know that several larger companies plan a monthly schedule and in fact, dont even blog everyday!

Melissa, Ben, Elisia, Ari, Laurie, and Kelly all commented on some of my posts. (Not sure if I am supposed to include Kelly)

Overall, it was a very exciting week filled with lots of participation and engagement. I would be a moderator again later in the semester.

Is User Generated Content Taking Over?

With so many people writing their own blogs, tweeting the news, and spreading viral videos and images, I ask you – Is user generated content taking over?

questionmark

But before we dip deep into this, lets define user generated content

According to “UGC 101: Guide to User-Generated Content Marketing” user-generated content is defined as “anything on the web that users have had a hand in making.” To me, this feels like practically everything today!

Today, there are several ways to create user generated content. Here are some examples:

  • Blogs
  • Facebook posts
  • Reviews online
  • Videos
  • Forums
  • Podcasts

These are just a few of the several ways that content is created by users today.

Users create content in all different ways on several different platforms. It is especially interesting how brands and companies take user generated content and apply it to their content to help benefit the company. Brands have been creating hashtags that are unique to their brand to help create and curate user generated content.

LuluLemonTheSweatlife

Take this ad campaign from LuLuLemon for example. They created the #thesweatlife as a way to bring their “offline experience to the online community.” This hashtag was so effective that it drove users to send more than 7,000 photos via Instagram and Twitter and more than 40,000 unique visitors since launch.

If brands are smart, they can seriously cash in by curating user generated content. I can only imagine the increase in sales from having such an effective campaign.

So what can other brands do to replicate the success of LuLuLemon?

The answer is simple: Just ask your customers for help.

help_wanted

By asking your customers for help, they are likely going to support a brand they love. Some effective ways to ask are by creating contents which ask the customers to send in a photo using a specific hashtag. This can be effective in getting your brand to spread through word of mouth and also in getting new marketing materials and images from actual customers.

These contests don’t necessarily need to run through your website but can be promoted through other blogs or forums. This may even be effective in helping reach more users.

So I ask you…Where do you read your content from? Is the majority from other users? And if you are a business, what types of contents worked for you in creating the most user generated content? One thing is for sure… UGC is t