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Content Strategy, Like Lightning…

Content Strategy London

When I left RBI at the end of last month, with my potted plant in my arms and a cheque in my back pocket, I realised that high on my priority list was figuring out exactly what I'd just spent the best part of six years doing. Wait. That sounds bad. I knew exactly what I'd been doing; I just wasn't sure how best to describe it to the outside world, especially as it's more than possible that my next employer won't be a journalism organisation. Outside that rarefied field, the job title "editorial development manager" doesn't mean much. I'm not sure it meant much even within that profession...

Fundamentally, I'd been working with content teams to help the define their content propositions for a digital, social and multiple-channel age. So... content strategy? Seemed like a good description, which begged the question: are there other people who define themselves in that way? A quick dose of the Googles proved that there were, and that they had a meetup and everything.

So I paid my fiver, trotted along and took some notes, sat alongside my arch-event blogging rival Martin "currybet" Belam. (Never quite figured out which of us is the super villain and which is the superhero. And that worries me.) These are pretty raw notes, typed rapidly into an iPad as the speakers, uh, spoke... They only had five minutes apiece, so the notes are by necessity rather brief. I found some talks compelling and insightful, and others rather obvious. No, I'm not telling you which are which. :-)

Mags Hanley

Mags rattled through the case study of a small business auditor who'd quit to launch to ForMums - a Chiswick-based hyperlocal and hyperniche site.

4 Things:

1. Kate doesn't have a proposition without a content strategy. The blog is the stickiness. Essential, because it brings people in, timely so it brings them back. What is a free listing? What is paid? What is the content for an advertiser? How much should it cost? All these things had to be decided.

2. Defining taregt audiences. There are gwo kinds of mums in Chiswick. Yummy mummies, who stay at home on their partner's income, and then the dual income families. Second audience is local businesses. And how do we ensure it's not overwhelming for Kate herself?

3. How do we get the structure right, so it old be sold to other areas? Kate intended to sell franchises to other West London areas.

4. Reviewing the tactical - what should she do every week? Every month? The event schedule was critical.

Tom Bamford

Semantic content - do we give people too much choice on their writing toolbars. It's distraction-free. Proper content is good for SEO. It's also accessible. Basically a quick rattle through familiar semantic markup.

David Farbey

Websites are what corporations do to talk to their customers. They're great because you can get all sorts of information out of them. The websites at probably only 10% of the content being produced by a corporation. People don't realise they're creating content; it's a sales pitch, or a presentation, or a user guide... and they're all working in silos.

Lots of the "back" content on your site is from the rest of the organisation. So you need to work with people to find what they've got that you can work with.

Steve Parks

Open Source CMSes in Enterprise. Advice: collaboration. Teams working together, collaborating with the community. Gartner spoke to 500 IT leaders. Essentailly three thpe of software in use: Proprietary (provided by vendors) - Open Source - Internal (custom written for the company, usually by internal teams). In the years between the first time Gartner did the survey and the most recent, internal and OS have both grown at the expense of the proprietary. His theory is that Internal and Open Source can feed into each other. Companies can contribute code back as they build internal solutions on OS software. Three big platforms: Alfresco for document managers, Drupal for big sites, WordPress for smaller sites. Cited a Lullabot example (you reading Jeff? :-) ) in which Sony and Warner ended up collaborating on sites through shared code.

Rick Yagoditch

Context is the third part of the site. There's content, structure and context. Context brings meaning. If you don't understand your customer! You can't put content in context. Contextualisation has been hijacked by marketing - segmentation. Google tells you that you can't contextualise - one URL, one piece of content. But Google contextualises... Each context is a rock that diverts some of the stream. But how do you apply context to CMSes? They're built on segmentation. Context needs to happen on the word level, not the page level. You have to contextualise for your customers.

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#media140 : Hemlock & AudioBoo

Hemlock is an open-source environment for building social applications, with a gaming focus. There’s a showcase of uses on the site.

AudioBoo – a low coast, efficient way of generating audio reports. The platform collects pictures, geodata and so on at the time of recording, and pushes it into a social, connected, embeddable environment. Currently, it’s on the iPhone, with Android and web versions coming soon. And they’re adding an API which will allow others to build clients. 
Podcasting was too complicated, suggests SEO MArk Rock. The idea of AudioBoo was to make audio publishing as easy as possible. In the short term, they’ll monetise through pro services, from editing, to managing team contributions. 10 licences sold for the pro services – and it’s not built yet!

Web 2.0 Expo Berlin: The Wednesday Keynotes

A quick write-up of my notes from the Wednesday keynotes at Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin. I've already covered Suw Charman-Anderson's keynote about e-mail on The Social Enterprise.

Saul Kline, Index Ventures

Saul Kiline gave us a quick, harsh dose of reality. "The weather looks pretty terrible," he suggested. "The Valley is downbeat."

Startups are "fighting an imaginary war, with a product but no money or customers".

Good companies can be started in hard times. Microsoft and Apple started in the 75/76 depression. Even now, the Dow Jones is four times higher than when Apple and Microsoft were started. Most of the great tech companies started in downturns.

However, there is a market out there. The time we spend online has changed radically in the last few years. Social sites have more minutes per visitor then the big three, even if the Microsoft/Yahoo/Google trio are slightly ahead in total numbers.

And there's help: there are lots of free resources to help startups

BUT we are facing a recession. Capital will not be backing people with good PowerPoints, but people who know what they are doing. Angels will retreat and there will be a focus on professional investing.

Key advice:

  • Don't panic
  • Bootstrap like crazy
  • Make products people want
  • Cut your costs.
  • Get to break even as soon as you can.

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