5 Big Takeaways from Confab 2014: Time Well Spent with Content Strategists

Have you ever been in a room with over 600 people who all are excited that they finally don’t have to explain what they do? This energy and sense of kinship is what greeted me at the Confab Content Strategy Conference last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Founded by Kristina Halvorson, author of Content Strategy for the Web, Confab covers topics ranging from storytelling to analytics, transparency to audits, and everything else a content strategist typically works on. As a Facebook Content Strategy Fellow, I was invited to attend Confab and soak up all I could on this emerging field.

Here are my five big takeaways from my busy days in the Midwest.

Powerpoint slide

Data-driven life slide by Mike Powers. (Photo: Kathy Matosich)

5. Data is the New Bacon

This was a joke that a man behind me commented on in a breakout session on analytics. Looking out at a standing room only conference room, I can see why he made the analogy. Both draw a crowd of hipsters and liven up the status-quo.

But as delicious as bacon is, I have learned that data is much more a necessity, like salt. Without data, you’re guessing at what content your audience finds useful and it is so easy to make your decisions based on your own taste, often leaving your users with a bland stock.

4. Content Strategy is like Gumby

Flexible and ready to take charge, good content strategy by Halvorson’s definition “guides the creation, delivery and governance of useful, usable content.” The key word in this definition is guide. Not rigid and brittle, it has to be malleable and grow with your changing situations.

So maybe it’s more like Stretch Armstrong…

3. SEO is Ever-Changing – Create Good Content

With Google’s algorithms updating and adapting, what does it mean for SEO when keywords are no longer enough? It means going back to your roots. Good content trumps all. There are no tricks, just vigilance on the content creator and strategists’ part to create something that is compelling, easy to use, and sharable.

2. Tell Transparent Stories

Jason Toon (@jasontoon) shared four great questions to ask of your communication: Am I revealing or obscuring? Am I anticipating or reacting? Am I using expressive language, or stock phrases? Am I establishing my expertise, or abdicating it?

1. It’s All About The People

Specifically the users you are creating the content for and the people within your organization. Draw on your community to guide your content strategy and their expertise to carry it through. Keynote speaker Nilofer Merchant (@nilofer) boiled it down to this: “The future isn’t created, it’s co-created.”

For more wisdom from Confab, check out #ConfabMN.

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