Content strategy at Tekom tcworld 2012
I’m attending Tekom tcworld 2012, in Wiesbaden. Today is the first day of the conference, and I’ve decided to attend a number of sessions on content strategy. Here are some notes I took during the first session of the day.
Scott Abel, well-known technical communicator and content wrangler, introduced the content strategy stream. Scott believes there’s a content revolution going on. His session discussed this revolution, and introduced the speakers who will talk about content strategy at the conference.
Structure is in everything that we, as people, do. It’s part of nature and part of who we are. It’s also essential to technical communication.
Why do we need structured content? Scott gave us nine reasons. The reasons included the fact that it makes it possible to automate publishing, and to publish to multiple channels. We can also automate business processes, because machines understand structure. He called this transactional content. We can automatically adapt content to work on mobile devices, using responsive design techniques. Scott said that Netflix learned from the technical communication community how to design something once and use it multiple times.
Structure allows us to monitor what is happening in social media. For example, you can follow a hash tag on Twitter, and see what people are saying about your brand.
We can start to think about providing personalised content, based on analysis of structured information. More, by providing content as a service, we can give people units of content that they can use in ways we haven’t even thought of. Scott sees this as the killer app. Companies who are doing this are the ones who are doing really well.
Content marketing and the power of the story
Scott says that we, as technical communicators, still think we produce documentation. Instead, we should think about the power of the story, and the power of modularisation.
Good stories draw people in and engage them. We produce a lot of documentation that is “necessary”. But we are competing with all the other stuff that is coming via the mobile channel. We need to create interest in the content that we produce.
Scott gave us this statistic, which I found very interesting, and which also rang true for me: 80% of business decision makers say they prefer to get company information in a series of articles rather than an advertisement. Also, business decision makers say that they look forward to relevant content, and that it makes them feel closer to the company.
That’s the driver for and justification for content marketing: distributing relevant content to a clearly-defined audience.
Time to get serious about content strategy
We need a plan and a strategy. If we don’t do it, someone else will. They will grab our content, and put it into apps and other mobile. They will make all the mistakes we made. They build everything by hand, and charge large amounts of money. But it’s not scalable.
Enter content strategy, and how technical communicators can step in and do it properly.