DCL/Best Practices for Your Content Migration

Re-Branding Content During a Migration

By Marli Mesibov, Content Strategist

Three steps toward making your content migration a smoother process

A content migration is like a ritual hazing ceremony for content strategists: challenging and stressful, but persevering and getting through it alive puts you in the content strategy club for life.

Three best practices can make a content migration significantly less stressful. These best practices make up the theme of the three-webinar series DCL has hosted this winter, which we’ll summarize here.

Tell a story

From a business perspective, a content migration has three parts: branding updates, selection of a CMS, and the actual migration of the content. But from a content strategy perspective, those three tasks mean we need to audit the content, create new content, archive old content, delete unnecessary content, update old content, and write adaptive copy.

Complicating matters further, we need to be able to answer questions: which pieces of content need to be archived? If it’s old content, what constitutes old? How are we updating old content?

Rather than trying to answer each question individually, which can result in a collection of mismatched content, we can follow guidelines. Those guidelines take the shape of a three part story, with a beginning, middle, and end. For example, a startup providing online recipes, while determining what content to keep to most entice their target audience, might write a story like this:

    Beginning: Sally needs a recipe to make chicken for her family and visiting mother-in-law.
    Middle: On her recipe website, Sally easily finds a chicken recipe nicely bookmarked.
    End: Sally repairs her relationship with her mother-in-law by providing an excellent dinner.

The key elements of the story are that the beginning must identify a need, and the company must help solve this need. With this information in mind, a content strategist can help decide what content to migrate simply by asking: will this content help Sally? Does it fit into our story in some other way?

Build a personality

Once the story exists, the work is far from over. Though the story helps determine what content should appear, it doesn’t determine how the content should appear. Consider Ginny Reddish’s advice from her book, Letting Go of the Words. She reminds us that website content is part of a conversation. The site visitor appears with questions, and the content across the site continues the conversation with them.

Just as a conversation between two people is only likely to continue if both people enjoy the others’ company, a conversation between a visitor and website is only likely to continue if the visitor likes the website’s personality.

Human personalities are represented in the vocabulary we use, the clothing we wear, and the way we act. Website personalities are conveyed through the content they provide, and the vocabulary and the visual design they use.

Human personalities are complicated, such that each individual person is completely unique. However, over the past several hundred years, theories have arisen stating that all human personalities can be categorized into one of twelve archetypes, ranging from “hero” to “innocent” to “jester.” These archetypes have been polished for marketing and content strategy use by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson. By selecting one archetype that is appropriate for a company’s personality, we take the first step in defining vocabulary and imagery to represent the company.

Work collaboratively

Finally, although a content migration is often handed to a content strategist to handle alone, it is not a one-person job. A website represents everyone across a company, and many content strategists feel as though they are pulled in 100 directions, trying to give every department the content they feel is most important.

Instead of trying to please everyone, the content strategist can invite the team to work together and come to an agreement. Although we learn to share in kindergarten, we then spend middle school and high school learning to keep our work to ourselves and building up insecurities and fears about being vulnerable in front of colleagues. For a business to succeed at a content migration (or any project!) we need to each learn to use I statements, take pride in our own abilities, and recognize the value that others bring to the project.

For more information and details on how to work collaboratively with your team, please join us for Marli Mesibov’s three-part webinar series, Re-Branding Content During a Migration:

Marli Mesibov, Content Strategist

Marli Mesibov is a writer and the VP of Content Strategy at Mad*Pow.