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.

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.

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.