Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend Gilbane SF. The conference brought together some of the top content management people from the U.S. and internationally. Overall, one of the things I really enjoyed about the conference was the mix of people on each of the panels — you had analysts, developers and content creators responsible for developing content and building web sites.

I focused on my time on the Customers and Engagement Track and also went to a few sessions in the Content Technology Track. As expected, there was a lot of talk of Web 2.0 and how to implement social into your content management strategy. There were also several sessions examining return on investment (ROI) for implementation.
Keynotes:

  • Jeremiah Owyang from the Altimeter Group kicked off the two day conference with a presentation titled “Your Corporate Website Can be Relevant Again”. His slides and video of his keynote are now available online. Jeremiah laid out an 8-step plan on how corporate websites can evolve into social websites that integrate the social experience into their web site. The best part of his presentation, which you can see on the slides is the real-world examples of sites along each step of the integration process.
  • Jeremiah was followed by Daniel Rasmus who spoke on The Future of Collaboration. My notes from his session are available. My key takeway from Daniel’s presentation was the importance of building a collaborative process within your organization. Everyday policies, such as how workplaces are designed, are all an important part of the social culture of an organization. In simple things, like meeting planning and design, everyone should have a voice. He also spoke a bit about millenials and how to create a work environment that is both supportive of millenials, but also encourages them to knowledge share about things that they know about. [Slides]

Customers and Engagement Track:

  • Audience Engagement Frameworks Case StudiesGert-Jan Schikker from Voetbal International presented on how a leading sports magazine in Holland has incorporated social into its online presence and seen a large increase in traffic and engagement. They’ve not only added social, but they also created mobile platforms, added video and worked with their advertisers and online storefront to create custom experiences based on user data.Michael Fisher from Alterian and Steven Alessi of American Greetings Interactive gave a joint presentation about work they did around the Super Bowl. Alterian used its platform to create a campaign to show 46 different brands the value of monitoring customer sentiment. American Greetings talked about the work they have done to make the online card giving experience more interactive and allow brands to connect to consumers in a positive way. As Michael put it, the key is measurement. If you’re not measuring, there’s no way to know if you’re being successful.
  • How to Mold the Customer Experience: My favorite panel of the entire two days was moderated by Ian Truscott and had Melissa Casburn (ISITE Design) and Randy Woods (non-linear creations) speaking about creating a customer experience on your web site. The thing that made this presentation great was that Melissa and Randy had obviously worked together to build the presentation and incorporate examples from both of their work. The presentation was all about how to research your customers and build personas based on customer research and then use those personas to shape the experience on your web site. The approach to building personas is a great idea as it allows you to use aggregate data. Melissa and Randy also provided some useful information on how to get started with a limited budget and use crowdsourcing to help with the process.
  • WCM as the Digital Marketing Hub: Ian Truscott and Robert Rose gave the final panel of the two days. Being the final panel is not an enviable position as people have been sitting around for two days, but Ian and Robert brought a lot of energy and humor that kept things interesting. Ian set things up by talking about the opportunity of working with customers on your web site. They are coming to your web site because they are looking for information. You have a chance to engage with them, but it’s a brief opportunity and you need to make the most of it. Ian shared an awesome anecdote about a small town men’s suit shop business owner and how he knows how to ask the right questions to provide a custom experience for each person that walks in the door.Robert followed Ian and gave some great real-world examples about how web content management relates to online marketing. Back in the early days of web development, the process was owned by the IT / Tech departments, but your corporate website is really a marketing tool. Marketers need to have the ability to be creative and be able to try things (either A/B testing or multivariate testing) without having to go through a long and involved process. Robert gave a list of things that people could start doing immediately to help separate the marketing process from the technology process.

More detailed notes from these sessions and the others I attended can be found on my blog.

My thanks to Gilbane San Francisco and Robert Rose, who gave me one of his speaker passes to the conference. I’m already looking forward to attending Gilbane Boston later this year.

Sue Anne Reed
http://www.sueannereed.com

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