Live from CSForum: Content as Connection

Content as Connection, by Hilary Marsh

Our organizations are in the content business, but we don’t necessarily know that that’s what we do. We create content all day, no matter what we’re doing. The content we produce might show up in the world in ways we’re not expecting.

We want our content to make a direct connection, and help us take action.

Content is the way our work is manifested in the world. Everything your organization does is your content – not just marketing, not just purposeful storytelling. Content is the way our organizations connect with our audiences. We need to help make sure the content doesn’t look half-baked.

The better we can show the relationship and the value of what we do, the better off we’re going to be. The question to ask is not “what do we have that they want” but instead “what are they looking for, that we have?”

Are we delivering content so that its value is obvious?

We can always make our content better by making sure it connects with our audience. We need to think about their context, their distractions, their other focuses. We need to understand what they say, how they speak, what keeps them up at night, and what they do for fun.

The more you can meet them, learn about them, brainstorm about them, the better you can connect with them. Get the whole internal team on board. If the internal teams are connected, that connection will power the external connections.

Facts need to come in a package, with context, brand, voice & tone. All of it.

Avon was successful because they knew their audience, and were able to diversify products to match the audience’s needs. Diversity is profitable, but there needs to be a connection. The old way of thinking was that each department built content for their specific audience. There might be contradictions, redundancies, inaccuracies, but it was all in silos/vacuums. But now we need to think about the overlap, because our audiences will see our contradictions, redundancies, inaccuracies. We can’t control all the communication channels. We need to collaborate.

Your content is an ecosystem. Organize content by topic, not by hierarchy or department.

How to do it:

  • Complementary skill sets
  • Context
  • Trust – work together
  • Collaboration
  • Tools – editorial calendars
  • Internal communication
  • Common behaviors

Businesses are just a bunch of people working together. It’s critical that people realize that so that they can think together.

Breathe, listen without judgement, tell people when they’re right. Tell them you understand. Help colleagues succeed.

Marli Mesibov

Marli is a content strategist with a passion for the user experience. Her work spans websites, web applications, and mobile. Marli is the VP of Content Strategy at the UX design agency Mad*Pow, where she helps healthcare, finance, and educational organizations communicate with their audiences. Marli is a frequent conference speaker, and has spoken at conferences including Content Strategy Forum and LavaCon. She can also be found on Twitter, where she shares thoughts on content strategy, literature, and Muppets.

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