6 Insights from Content’s Brightest Minds

Content insights from the minds at Facebook, Instagram and the ever-agile consulting world.


As the content industry ekes out its place in the communications and business world, it has put the digital space to work—writing textbooks where there were none, starting virtual conversations in place of mentorships not readily available to budding newcomers. To exercise the latter, we reached out to the community for input on how to grow and excel the world of content strategy today. Their answers on the wide web of subject matter we weave—analytics, messaging, hiring and more—are all below. Read on for insights from the minds at Facebook, Instagram, and the ever agile consulting world.

5H7B5974 (640x427)On Flying Solo

When I started, I felt like I always needed to do everything myself from start to finish—that success was defined by how much I did all by myself. Now, I realize that I don’t have all the answers and I don’t need to. Developing strong relationships, knowing who to ask what and how to create superior deliverables out of that collaboration has helped me improve my body of work.

Hazel Jennings, Content Strategist at Instagram

47834e09a3d617e501d3c7b1d827d1b4_400x400On Building Solid Foundations

It’s important that you create “foundational” content before anything else. Before you lock in a marketing campaign with a lot of success, you have to craft a vision statement. You have to write your core values. You have to know your audience and have personas and archetypes locked down. You have to know your products, benefits, value propositions, and then how to sell it all in an elevator pitch. Once you have that, you’ll have what you need to execute your brand voice across any tactic you choose, whether it’s building a blog or writing an eBook. All that helps a business decide where the brand voice is before you go out and start applying it.

Andrea Goulet Ford, Founder and Message Architect at BrandVox

unnamed (426x640)On Hiring the Right People

When I was looking to build out my team, I wanted someone with both left brain and right brain capabilities, which is hard to find. You need to find not only someone who can put together a site map, you also need someone who can empathize and write or understand what voice and tone is appropriate for engaging an audience. There’s a real duality to this job.

Sarah Werner, Content Strategist at Click Rain

photoOn Hitting the Numbers

Geek out. A client just told me that I’m too crazy about data metrics. And that’s right. You have to be. That’s how you determine what works. Measure everything. Want to know if your content is working? Well, how is your pipeline? How many leads are you generating per campaign? What’s your conversion cost? How are your social channels performing? Without analytics, you’re flying blind.

– Shannon Rentner, Digital Marketing Strategist

e57bbff84b25ac70c7f939054531e801_400x400On Progress

One of the most important lessons is simple: be curious. Be looking at the web, seeing new things. You can be in a meeting and a client is talking about a problem or issue and you can say, I’ve seen this site and they did this to solve our problem. Knowing what’s been done is important. The best thing you can do to acquire skills is to know the web and what works well. A part of that is keeping up with the industry, and the ones that fall under our umbrella, too. Don’t just go to CS meetups. Try out a UX meetup, for example. Get their perspectives and  work your brain that way, as well.

Noreen Compton, Content Strategy Consultant, Co-founder of Content Strategy Alliance

USlz5xiR_400x400On Finding the Right Answer

At Facebook, we have a pretty robust set of content standards that we apply to our work but it’s important to think of language as dynamic and to be willing to adjust depending on the product or the audience. There are usually lots of potential solutions to a problem and much more than before, I feel comfortable seeing and exploring them rather than always looking for a single right answer. The result is that I find my work more creatively fulfilling and I often stumble into solutions I don’t think I would have if I was always strictly following the rules.

Amy Thibodeau, Content Strategist at Facebook

Did our experts’ advice hit a chord? Tell us how in the comments section below!

responses to “6 Insights from Content’s Brightest Minds”

  1. Noreen Compton says:

    Humbled to be in such great company on this blog! Love Andrea’s advice
    to: “craft a vision statement,,,write your core values.” I see too many projects that jump in without these basic steps. And Amy is so on point about being flexible and open to solutions. Plus it is a definite numbers game as Shannon states – we can learn a lot from analytics to inform our content. Sarah hits the mark with the schizophrenic – but oh what a ride – nature of content strategy. And I love that Hazel mentioned feeling free to ask questions and forge relationships to make our work better. My first “real” job was in live Cable TV and there was a sign in the studio that said: “The only stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask.” Words I have tried to live by…

  2. Joe Griffin says:

    Awesome folks and great advice!

  3. Jane says:

    Great advice from great people. I love Shannon’s advice on measuring stuff! Numbers are indeed very important and no matter whether people call us number addicts or not, it is a crucial aspect in our business.

    If we can’t measure something we cannot do anything to improve it. Also, without measuring our progress we won’t know how our business efforts are paying!

    Thanks for putting this together Sasha!