Content Systems Academy

Part 1: What You’ll Find Here

 In Budget, General, Series

Execution. It’s an essential component of all content systems —and the focus of this series of blogs.

I spent the last eighteen months leading a dedicated media team through an incredible experience. We’ve built a rich, dynamic website that serves a significant need for a passionate and underserved community, autistic students transitioning from high school to college, particularly in STEM fields. We call this a content system. My hope is that by sharing this journey, I can help you develop insight and inspiration for your own projects. And, your comments and feedback will help me refine the approach that we’ve taken to build this platform and engage our audience.

My team likes to say that I’m a “data-driven decision maker” (okay, that might have come from me), and one thing that means is we don’t go it alone. Neither should you.

Our process draws upon best practices from proven leaders and organizations in marketing, such as Seth Godin and HubSpot. I also consume a lot of content and, within this series, you’ll see how we applied tactics and techniques developed or presented by Rachel Aaron, Jay Baer, Jonah Berger, Robert Cialdini, Sally Hogshead, Ryan Levesque, Eric Ries, William Zinsser, and others.

I’ll share the specific steps – and missteps – we took to attract and grow a dedicated audience for our Stairway to STEM (STS) project, which includes free digital resources for autistic students, their families, and their educators. (If you want to know why we generally use the descriptor “autistic” rather than saying “person with autism,” take a look here.)

Here’s a high-level overview of this blog series.

As you follow us through the Create – Engage – Manage – Optimize process, you’ll see the specific techniques we developed and implemented along the way.

After we conducts our initial research, we applied lean startup principles to building this content system. We began by defining our market space—we identified our target audience and their underserved need. From there, we focused on the problem space by developing our value proposition, feature set, and user experience (UX) design. We also used qualitative audience research to develop audience personas, an editorial mission statement, and our content playbook.

Next, we designed and tested a collaborative content creation process. This allows contributors of varied experience levels to transform an idea into compelling content.

You’ll see the development of all these benchmarks to implementing a successful digital content strategy, as well as the resources and tools we’ve created.

We’re still building the STS network, but I want to share our successes and failures with you and this community—which is one I’ve learned so much from —so you can build on and learn from our experiences.

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