Confab 2021 – Day 1 Round Up

May 6th, 2021 by Robyn Hannah
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Confab is arguably the biggest content strategy conference in the world and it’s the place to be for anyone interested in content marketing. Whilst the 3 day event is usually held in Minneapolis, this year’s conference is being held online. Meaning the rest of the world can attend the conference from the comfort of their living room sofa.

Here at Serps we kicked off day 1 of Confab 2021 just there. Tuning in from Scotland we were a little behind Kristina Halvorson’s 9am (CDT) welcome announcement. It was about 3pm for us. Still, with a cup of coffee in our hands, we were ready for an evening full of learning about the latest thinking in content strategy.

Inclusivity at the heart of UX

Vidhika Bansal kicked off the day 1 with her keynote speech: Say my name, say my name: Honouring people’s humanity with the words we use.

All words are important, particularly our names. They carry our history and reflect our identities. And as Vidhika so powerfully explained in her opening speech, it’s important that we respect them.

‘We have so much power to honour people’s humanity with our words.’

Vidhika Bansal

Looking at UX copy in particular, Vidhika explained how something as simple as a tech system validation rule can have a lasting impact on the real world. Discriminatory language such as ‘Your name is invalid’ not only ‘others’ the user but prevents them from accessing the system they need, simultaneously creating negative emotional and physical results.

Indeed, this can be applied to all types of content and copy. When writing new copy, we need to stop and ask ourselves who we are addressing and perhaps equally as important, who are we excluding?

We should seek to include diverse perspectives both in our teams and our research so that our content honours the diversity of individual users.

Audio content strategy

Next up, Sophie Taran presented on developing a strategy for audio experiences. With audio content becoming an increasingly popular form of content, this was a really interesting presentation.

Presenting a case study on how The New Yorker successfully integrated podcasts and audio stories to their app, Sophie’s presentation explored the question: How do you write about something that won’t be read?

Discussing best-practices for audio-first experiences, Sophie explained how integrating audio options into your existing content and content design can offer new ways for users to engage with your site or app. Boldly claiming that ‘Sometimes the best copy is no copy at all’, Sophie demonstrated that this integration can be done seamlessly, using visuals and clear calls to action (CTAs).

Indeed, diversifying your content strategy via audio content is a great option for any business looking to take a digital first approach. Proving that not all content needs to be read.

The evolution of content strategy

Host Karen McGrane held a ‘lunchtime’ (dinner time for us) panel on The Past, Present and Future of Content Strategy with guest panelists Kavita Singh, Chris Collette and Lillian Gooden.

After a pretty tumultuous 2020 and with people spending more time online, consuming content at rates never seen before, this was a thorough panel that looked at the evolution of content strategy over the past two decades, asking how did we get here and what does the future now hold?

The panel reflected on this evolution, discussing how content strategy has transformed from being nearly non-existent 20 years ago, to now celebrating the role of content strategists who covers many different disciplines, including research, writing, design, UX, search engine optimisation (SEO) and more.

The panel enthusiastically agreed that content strategy is a huge field that is increasingly being recognised for the value it can add to a digital or business strategy. Concluding that the field is becoming much more specialised with individual roles being created for the vast disciplines that content strategy involves.

Inclusivity and representation in content design

Joining us from our own time zone, Candi Williams was today’s guest for the fireside chat with Kristina Halvorson. The two had an influential discussion on the importance of inclusivity and accessibility in the industry.

In an open and honest chat, Candi discussed her career path so far from an English language and linguistics student, to copywriter, to content designer at NationWide and now, most recently, Bumble.

Echoing Vidhika’s opening keynote speech from earlier today, Candi further emphasised the ways in which language helps to shape the world. She highlighted how content design presents a unique opportunity to shape this world view by creating and curating content that places accessibility and inclusivity at the forefront.

Providing practical takeaways on how to promote inclusivity and accessibility within our own teams by diversifying the hiring process and within the content we’re creating through the likes of inclusive language guidelines.

Content strategy is a group effort

Gord Roberts wrapped up day 1 with a practical discussion on how content strategists can work collaboratively with each other and the wider marketing and business teams. Identifying key areas where we can often get stuck and explaining how to overcome these issues, both as an individual and as part of a larger team.

After an inspiring day, Gord’s talk provided practical ways to put much of what we had learned so far into practice by managing or being part of a supportive and co-productive team.

Are you attending this years Confab conference? Have you been before? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned for our round up of Day 2 at Confab 2021!

Photo credit: Chris Montgomery


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