Part 3 of my top three takeaways from the 2018 Digital Summit

Portland’s 2-day Digital Summit left a deep impression on this nerdy project manager from Lake Oswego. I’m excited to share my personal top three digital marketing takeaways from the 2018 Summit. My first takeaway was all about mobile, and what it means for SEO. My second takeaway spoke to the world of intent-based search, and how we can approach it with our SEO strategies. Finally, I’m excited to share my favorite offbeat takeaway:

“Nobody cares about your content.”

When this warm and fuzzy sentiment came up during a session on “Designing Connected Content,” I couldn’t help chuckling. The thought came from Mike Atherton, a content strategist for Facebook. (He also wrote a book on the subject of designing connected content, which is near the top of my to-read list!)

Deep down, we all know that no one cares about our content merely because we made it, or because we think it is DA BOMB. (Maybe your mom does, and, if you’re lucky, a few close friends.) Keep it real: your content needs to answer someone’s problem or scratch an itch they already have. Or, as Mike Atherton so concisely put it, “Nobody cares about your content. They care about what your content is about.” Take a moment to chew on that thought. What do people care about?

To put it harshly, don’t crowd your content with irrelevant pieces that (dare I say) are really mere vanity. Get out of your world and put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re trying to speak to. What are they thinking about and looking for?

Thinking through our content creation

Mr. Atherton provided the example of a website for an event. What do people visiting that website want to see? Primarily, they are looking for things like the location, time, and speakers at the event. Visitors to the example website were not looking for a deep and emotional explanation of the heart behind the event. Sometimes, we’re too close to our website, product, or service to even see a problem. Step back, consider your content and its purpose. Who cares about it and why? Who’s world does your content live in?

There may be a place for the emotional explanation of the heart behind the aforementioned event, but it isn’t at the front and center of the aforementioned website. Who wants that information? This is where Mr. Atherton’s insights got me excited about information structure. What I took away from his session was twofold:

  • Make sure you have the right content for your audience and goal
  • Structure with clear context to give it meaning

I believe that taking one of his points without the other is comparable to having a taco shell without filling. It just leaves you disappointed and frustrated. The right content needs context, and context needs the right content.

Structure matters

Structure matters for your own sake as a content creator. Is your content organized in such a way that there is context to organize and reuse it? However, that isn’t the only aspect to consider. Context also matters to the search engines and smart devices trying to interpret your content. Can bots crawl your information and easily make sense of it? But it isn’t only you and technology! At the end of the day, structure is really about the people consuming your content. Does your structure help them easily find/navigate your content, easily make sense of it, and easily share it?

The goal of your structure can be broken down into three checkpoints for yourself, technology, and people who consume your content:

  • Is the content easy to find?
  • Is it easy to make sense of?
  • Is it easy to share?

From the CMS you choose for your internal purposes, to the way you deliver and code that content (also think about schema markup!), to the way you categorize and display information, “structure provides meaning.”

Final thoughts

In summation, make sure your content matters to the people you’re speaking to, and provide context so that it has meaning. Don’t get caught in a trap of creating content without taking time to make sure it is the right content and it lives within meaningful structure. While implementation may vary with technology and culture, these principles are timeless.

That’s all for my top three takeaways from the Digital Summit. It has been such a privilege to soak up insights from some of the top influencers in digital marketing. Here at Outside Communications, we’re excited to continually learn as the digital world around us expands.

If you’re interested in creating content for your website, but don’t know where to start, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help!