This past October, I had the pleasure to attend The LavaCon Content Strategy Conference and I’m still feeling the buzz of excitement. LavaCon is not only a time to share our vision for the future of content but also to hear the best practices when it comes to creating and sharing content across the organization. It’s also one of the most engaging conferences and this year’s theme “Mastering the Content Development Cycle” brought significant takeaways.
From content strategists, documentation managers to software vendors, it was a privilege to learn from other professionals and companies as diverse as: Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Google, Netflix, SAP, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Mastercard and more.
Fluid Topics had the privilege to host two sessions and share several insights :
- Fabrice Lacroix, our CEO discussed the challenges brought by the speed of product launches and updates for SaaS vendors and how rethinking tools and workflows can increase writing throughput and optimize content production.
- Géraldine Boulez, our VP Marketing, gave us a clear picture of the cost savings and gains product content could generate when delivered right
I wanted to share some of the key learnings I walked away with:
“Everyone owns the process of delivering value through content”
During his talk “Data Driven? Probably Not. Using Content Performance to Transform Communications Strategy”, John Yembrick, Director of Digital Communications at Lockheed Martin delved into content performance and how data can tell the true story about our content’s effectiveness. John and his team always work in collaboration with other business areas to make sure the content they plan to publish on social media or their website fits within the overall strategy. They’re not afraid to challenge their content strategy and adapt their tactics if something works best. And their results are great. They end up posting less but more targeted content and their total engagement is higher than ever before.
I personally really enjoyed his session as his remarks on social media and metrics could apply to technical content publishing. Being able to track and closely monitor how audiences interact and engage with technical documentation is vital. Tech Doc professionals need specific content analytics tools to clearly understand how their content is consumed, but the objective is the same. These insights help our clients identify content gaps, evaluate the alignment of the documentation with the users’ needs and prioritize content work and resources on assets that will reach their audience.
“Emphasize availability, accessibility, delivery options”
Technical documentation should give users information in a way that’s easy to find and to read, usable, and actually helpful to them. In other words, the content that is delivered to an audience needs to be efficient.
Sarah O’Keefe, CEO at Scriptorium, touched on this point during her session “ContentOps : Fad or Future?” when she said that content needed to be accurate, up to date, personalized and accessible to all end users, in their preferred format and language. This may seem obvious but we’ve all felt the frustration that comes with using outdated, one-size-fits-all documentation.
In my opinion, content efficiency is mainly a question of delivery. You must get rid of static publishing and embrace dynamic content delivery in order to provide a true content service for your users.
“Metadata is a love note to the future”
Chad Dybdahl, Solutions Consultant at Adobe discussed metadata and how it’s part of our everyday lives. He describes metadata as the layer that sits on top of our content and drives the search experience. Metadata is about organizing content and making it findable. He takes the example of Spotify and how we can search songs by metadata such as genre, recommended, friend activity, release year… This really resonated with me. Most people don’t realize that when they search for something on Spotify, Netflix or the App Store, they’re using using metadata.
I’m a firm believer in the power of metadata on its own to classify and filter content. But what makes the real difference in findability is using cutting-edge search engines that leverage advanced ranking algorithms to ensure users find exactly what they are looking for in milliseconds.
NB: The quote “Metadata is a love note to the future” is actually by Jason Scott.
“The value is in the product journey”
Most organizations often consider technical documentation as a necessary evil, an expensive prerequisite for product usability, competition, and compliance. They clearly see the costs associated to it but fail to recognize its worth.
Géraldine Boulez highlighted that companies must turn to the product journey to seize the real value of documentation.
Let’s take the example of the Discovery phase. Prospective buyers spend 27% of their time researching information online during the purchase cycle and 59% of CX executives say that technical content is the primary or secondary criteria in the decision to purchase. But when users can’t find the documentation they’re looking for (even though it exists!) what good does it do?
Content Delivery – how we make documentation accessible, findable, personalized and contextual – is key to realize the many benefits of content. We must create worth through engaging user experiences to be able to shift the content conversation from cost to value.
Last but not least…
This was actually my first time at LavaCon. From live llamas to a Taiko drum lesson and performance over Zoom, it did not disappoint.
The whole team wants to thank Jack Molisani, the Executive Director of the LavaCon Conference for opening up new opportunities in the technical communication and content strategy fields.
I look forward to catching up with everyone in person at in New Orleans, USA.