Content Strategy Forum 2014

Blankwaves 7 in azure
July 4, 2014


A recap of some of the highlights from the annual content strategist gathering

If you have a Twitter account and are interested in content strategy, chances are you noticed the #csforum14 tag these past few days. This year, more than a hundred of the most knowledgeable and engaged content strategists from all over the world came together in Frankfurt for the Content Strategy Forum to discuss how we can better plan, craft, distribute and analyze content.

I would not call myself a content strategist, but after talking to a bunch of Contentful customers and partners, I’m getting a pretty good idea of the challenges they are facing. I attended the event to better understand these challenges, where the industry is heading, and of course to do some promotion for Contentful :) I joined many interesting talks (and so many more were on the schedule), and these are some of my main takeaways.

Strategist, define thyself!

Margot Bloomstein, a leading content strategist and author of Content Strategy at Work, gave an opening keynote on defining the "content strategy" profession. The field has obviously evolved to become incredibly broad, which creates the need for specialists: whether that means being a CMS expert for enterprises or a brand specialist for consumer brands, that’s better than trying to be everything for everyone. Very related to this Eric Reiss (above) took on the “UX designer” role. Rather than saying that one single person is responsible for the user experience, Eric stressed the importance of about 10 other disciplines (including; Product Managers, Information Architects, Interaction Designers, Software Developers, SEO, Marketing, etc.) in addition to the content strategist.

Design, Tools and Beyond

With definitions and frame of reference out of the way, it was time to dig deeper. Sadia Latifi (below) gave a great talk on how Pinterest went "pinternational" adding 31 languages in less than a year. A combination of thorough upfront requirements analysis, daring to take risks along the way, outsourcing translation through ODesk and having a kick-ass Product Manager was key to its success.

Catharina Pawella & Laurence Dansokho from Ebay gave some very interesting insights into how they are implementing a global content strategy at Ebay. This was quite mind-blowing to be honest. To see that one of the worlds leading tech companies are encountering the same challenges as an insurance company in Slovenia and a University in Austria, says a lot about the current state of CMS’s. At Ebay they are currently putting together the combination of tools seen below (sorry, phone picture!), but already know that their Drupal implementation won’t last. Ebay is already experimenting with Contentful on some interesting projects and we’re hoping to help them with some larger projects in the future!

A fellow Berliner Robert Stulle talked about how they do agile client project management at Edenspiekerman. They “build cool shit!”, by including the whole project team in the initial phases of the projects, steering clear of waterfall processes and being guided by strong content principles: Hierarchy, not position. Modules, not pages. This is something we can REALLY relate to at Contentful!

Contentful to the Rescue?

No, I’m not gonna get ahead of myself here. I don’t think any CMS can solve all content strategy challenges out there (even if it’s a freaking awesome one). The challenges are simply too many and diverse. However, there are definitely things we do that can help you out too. Check out these cool examples from Nike, Asics and others.

In addition to the talks above, Theresa Grothendorst, Ute Klingelhoefer and Monica Rivera-Malpica focused on the importance of smart content and being able to reuse it across various platforms and devices through a clear separation of content from presentation layers.

The take is definitely that even innovative tech companies like Ebay are struggling to find and implement a CMS that will work for them. By giving you the power to structure your content in exactly the right bits and pieces and publishing it to any platform through our API, we believe Contentful is the best foundation to create future friendly content. That’s a damn good start for any company looking to implement a forward-looking content strategy. Give it a try and see what it can do for you :)

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