October 22, 2015

Things I’ve learned about content working as a content technologist

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Odecee Content Technologist Zoran Nikolovski shares his thoughts on how to create engaging content for today’s ‘digital connoisseur’…

I started my career in IT at a time when having your own Content Management System (CMS) was considered as much of a ‘fashion’ statement as beards and thick-rimmed glasses are today. Every business and government agency wanted the ability to create and manage their content, primarily to try and reduce the cost of content production and speed up time to market – two goals that still stand as major drivers for the thriving content management industry. But, while the needs on a macro level have stayed mostly the same, the context underlying content management has changed greatly.

Today we have social media, smart devices, IoT, content aggregators and many more creations of the Internet era that demand and compete for our attention; somewhere between then and now, we – the object of their affection – became much, much smarter about how we choose to grace with that precious commodity known as time.

As someone who has, in one way or another, played in the space of content management (or more recently, ‘experience management’) for the better part of the last decade (and a bit) I would like to offer my own learnings about content and some useful tips on how to approach content creation in a way that will engage and interest the digital connoisseur.

Strike up a (social) conversation

In today’s digital world, social interaction is king. More and more digital marketers use social media trends instead of more traditional lead generation approaches to gauge how successful their campaigns are. And not only that – they use the generated social chatter to further broaden or deepen their reach into their target audience.

Next time you create a content piece – whether that is a product launch promo, event promotion, knowledge piece, video or just a personal blog post – ask yourself what social outcomes you want to achieve. Do you want people to share and create their own social dialogs relating to your content? Or would you prefer they engage in a dialog directly against the content that you’ve created?

How you want your message to ride the social wave will not only inform your point of speaking (whether you’re addressing audiences from a point of authority or one of equality) and tone of voice, but also the direction you want to go to once the social machine has churned through.

Tell a story, don’t sell a product

In the new era of digital, gone are the days of the naïve consumer that was easily impressed with product statistics, ads, banners and popups. Nowadays, people are fine-tuned to ignore the ‘fluff’ and focus on identifying the core message that will determine why they should give you their precious online time. This highlights the fact that content needs to tell a story and allow users to form opinions and reach their own conclusions; this approach is much more likely turn them into not only a customer, but also a brand advocate.

For this reason (among many others), aim to create content that allows you to ‘tell your story’ to your potential customers. Explain to them why they should pledge their loyalty to you and why they should back your business. Don’t confuse them with percentages, technical lingo and spreadsheet-like information. Allow them to identify with the brand first before they ask for the nitty-gritty details, and treat even that as part of the storytelling. Leave behind the product peddling of yesteryear.

Talk to an audience of ‘One’

Now you’re ready to tell your story and have an idea what kind of social chatter you want to create, it’s time to look at the most important individual out there – the (‘One’) consumer.

Why is the One important? As humans, our daily lives are mostly a combination of moment-to-moment decisions and emotional responses that shape our sense of self and our place in the world. If you think that’s a little bit hedonistic, well, that’s because it is. But that’s okay, because it means when we identify with something or someone, we tend to give it/them an unusual level of attention and devotion (think Apple ‘fan boys’ and ‘fan girls’) because we feel like it/they are speaking to us and us alone.

A lot of corporate and personal brands are highly attuned to this and they devote a serious amount of time and resources to making sure that, while their message reach is global, their message focus is individual and relatable.

As you can imagine this is not an easy task to achieve. When content and design teams think of personalisation, it is generally equated to personalised presentation aspects; what is often forgotten is the ability to match certain content properties to certain user traits to deliver just the right amount of “me” to a target customer in any digital content asset. This is where a robust content model and a sound content strategy can go a long way.

Plan for outcomes, not requirements

When you plan and build and refine the aspects of your content, don’t obsess over ticking all the boxes on the requirements ‘to-do list’. Instead focus on what outcomes you’ll create and what value you’ll add to your consumers’ daily online habits. Apart from anything else, outcomes are much easier to measure and learn from; requirements, on the other hand, tend to be ambiguous and in the end will eventually be used to derive outcomes regardless.

Oh and one last thing – something I learned early on in my experience as a developer is that requirements can start the conversation, but getting to caught up in these kinds of minute details detracts from the importance of delivering value and doing so in such a way that allows you and your consumers to come out of the experience smarter, happier and with a sense of accomplishment.

You can read the original piece and find more of Zoran’s writing here.

Image via: http://seopressor.com/blog/content-marketing-made-easy/

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Categorised in: Content strategy

This post was written by Zoran Nikolovski