Confab London 2013

confab-londonHaving read the ebooks of Kristina Halverson and Melissa Rach, Erin Kissane, and Karen McGrane, it seemed only natural to go to Confab UK, held this past March 25 and 26 in London. That is where these authors and more were giving excellent talks on one of our favorite subjects: content strategy. It was in a word, fabulous.

Overall thoughts

Where I work, all of our web projects start with content strategy. And though I learned (or confirmed) quite a few valuable theories and techniques, I leave with one particular thought buzzing in my head (using two different sources): focus on the complete content lifecycle (Halverson), and that it’s not a strategy if you cannot maintain it (McGrane). Exact. We all know that defining the strategy for the current project takes up most of our time, and we are aware of governance issues, but we must not fail to ask ourselves the “what next” questions.

I like the simplicity of that thought. Sure, we can define lots of methods for defining the processes for maintaining the content lifecycle, but oftentimes it just requires that infatigable question, what next. It is a way of staying away from the content landfill (thanks Kristina for that metaphor right on target). Especially in a corporate or government environment where we tend to believe the institional content is absolute and constant, we have to realise that the way we speak evolves. The way users behave evolves, as well as their needs and expectations. Not to mention the SEO implications. So then must content evolve. By asking ourselves “what next” we create an environment ready for change at the right moment.

What I found works is by setting up phases, every six months or so, or even once a year according to the type of organisation, just to review a sample of the content online. If I see glaring problems, I’ll review more content. If things are still up to date, don’t break what’s not broken. But you must review. As an external consultant I can also help clients rethink any content issues concerning their business model, should there be anything be new to include.

Further kudos for #ConfabUK

All the speakers came highly prepared, and in spite of perhaps a few jitters, the speakers consistently captured our attention. Here are a couple more thoughts on talks that I felt met my paticular current stream of affairs:

Melissa Rach’s conference on defining the value. No matter the equation (and there was definitely quite a bit of math) don’t forget that in the end we want our clients to feel they got a great offer. That means that the price you give should reflect the return the client will get.

Or Chris Atkinson’s case study talk on how to help create content where there is none based on the user persona journey map. A great tool to think about using when you want to shift people’s attitudes toward a new way of thinking. Check it out on slideshare.

And finally, I tip my hat to Anne Handley and her amazing closing talk on your content as a brand. “Good content is customer centric (if your audience paid your salary, what would you write)” or using content to tap into conversations (hint social media, but not just). Insightful, funny, new… It was a great end to a great conference.

There was so much more. I am humbled by all the work everyone is doing. I know many notes have been shared, but I will leave you with one more link from Matin Belam, who has set it all up for you in one nice package.

What else can I say but…

Thanks everyone from the organizing team for a fabulous Confab London 2013. You figured it out, this is not an ebook, but ebooks got me to Confab UK.