Teaming up with the team at Convince & Convert, Vidyard’s VP of Marketing Tyler Lessard hosts the Content Pros Podcast. For this week’s episode, Tyler is joined by Clair Byrd, Director of Competitive Marketing at Twilio to talk about creating the perfect content vehicle. Check out the full podcast:

Here’s a few of our favourite moments:

During your time at InVision, how did you create such a vast network of external contributors to your blog?

There are a couple things that when we were building this program we wanted to shift. I’d been involved in trying to build contributed programs for a long time and I always saw a lot of problems. I tried to go in with the mindset of just taking those problems off the table. One, you have to make people look really sexy. That was job number one, was to design a blog that was beautiful and people felt proud of being on. Beyond anything else, that was our job number one, make them look really great.

Number two, let them write about what they want to write about. So many contributed programs that I’ve been a part of have so many strict editorial guidelines and rules and they actually prescribe topics to you. That’s not how we approach this at all. We were like, “That’s nonsense. No one is going to actually write about something that we want them to write about. We will empower them to write about the topics that they care about.” Instead of having an editorial line, we put together a framework where we’re like, “If your topic falls within design skills and methodology, design culture, and design leadership, we will publish it.” We would happily contradict that point of view the next week. We didn’t feel like there needed to be any sense of stream of consciousness around what we were trying to do because we really wanted to represent a healthy cross-section of the design community. We empowered people to write about what they wanted to.

Content Pros - Empower

The third thing was that we staffed differently than a normal content marketing team. We actually have people who will sit in a Google document and co-write with an author to make them feel better about the direction that their piece is taking and actually give them a really great engagement layer with a real human that makes it feel more like a partnership and less like they’re doing us a favor. We spend a lot of time with our writers to really give them a deliverable or a final piece that they’re really proud of. That’s a core tenant of the InVision marketing program, is make great stuff. Don’t be gross, that’s another one.

The last thing is that we did a lot of outbound work. This is not an easy thing. I feel like many people who set up a contributed program set it up, tell the world that they’re taking contribution, and then suddenly, the pieces will just roll in. That is absolutely not the case. We spent months and months and months going outbound, searching the internet high and low for writers who we thought were really great with something interesting to talk about and gave them the opportunity to contribute to the blog, but also told them that they would be getting a custom catered unique experience with a beautiful final deliverable that we would do the absolute best that we could to get as many eyeballs on as possible.

We also even started engaging syndicates so that when a fast company would pick up a blog post from the InVision blog, they got the byline. We didn’t care if we got the byline. We just wanted the links in the post, to be completely honest. We wanted to expand the breadth, expand the footprint of our content and we didn’t really care if we got the credit ’cause it wasn’t ours to take. It was that person’s credit to take and we were just basically riding on their coattails and providing them a hype machine in which to share their ideas with the community that they really cared about.

How did you design the blog at InVision to be so clean, clear and easy to read?

Everything that is on any InVision property is designed in house, which I think is different and I think that that actually helps with the deep understanding of the values of the company to create this really consistent thoughtful brand experience that expresses the company’s values. Plus one to doing things in house. From the perspective of approaching the blog, we were speaking to designers. We just took a design thinking approach. Designers, how do they want to read? What is the problem that we’re trying to solve?

We’re trying to communicate to designers something that they don’t know how to do yet around design leadership. What is the best format in which to do that? We ended up landing on this incredibly clean, no ads, no side bars, readable mobile-optimized experience because we knew that these designers are probably on the bus and they’re reading something or they’re on their commute. They’re probably not sitting at their desk at work. We did actually make sure that we backed this up with true facts about how people engage with our content, but the hypothesis was simply build the best solution for our audience. We cannot stress the importance of good web strategy and readability and accessibility with regard to web best practices. I would highly recommend all content people get comfortable and literate with what it is to design for the web. This is a really important thing, especially if your audience is technical. However, even still, a readable experience is going to do nothing but benefit you.

Get The Full Story

If you want to hear the full podcast, we’ve posted it above, and you can read a full transcript of this talk on Convince & Convert, where it was originally posted!

Taylor Jones