I recently led a panel discussion about agile content development at the Intelligent Content Conference. While there, I had the opportunity to talk with Susie Dickson, a content strategist at Facebook and an Acrolinx customer. Susie has spent her entire career in content, first as a journalist and, since joining Facebook, in a variety of roles including content operations and support content.

When I asked her to describe what Agile means to her, Susie said that it’s how Facebook does product development. She explained that things move really quickly at the company and that they’re always changing. In fact, the company’s mantra is to “move fast and break things.” As a result, she and her team have to adapt and move quickly to both create and update content to meet constantly evolving needs.

 

 

When I pressed her to explain why being agile was so important for her team, she said that when you work in an engineering-driven culture like the one that she does at Facebook, you’re going to get left behind as a content creator if you’re not able to move quickly. Not only that, if the content isn’t created in real time as products are being developed you wind up with really broken product experiences. Nobody wants that.

Next I asked her how being agile changes the way that content gets created at Facebook. Her response was that it means that you can’t create content in a vacuum. Instead, you’ve got to be part of an overall process and that you’ve got to be able to iterate so that you can go back and revise content as much as needed. To do that successfully at Facebook, content creators like Susie aren’t just part of content creation teams. Instead they’ve worked to build strong relationships with the product team and today are actually embedded within those teams.

One of the keys to her success at Facebook has been partnering with the company’s UX research team. Doing so has allowed her to gather quantitative feedback about how specific pieces of content are performing, whether or not people are interacting with the content, and what results it’s driving.

Of course, it’s not always possible to be agile. One exception that Susie points out is when working with the company’s legal team. Trying to work too fast with lawyers can be painful because it’s just means that you wind up having to make too many compromises. That’s because as Susie puts it, at the end of the day, legal teams always win — you can’t put a piece of content out without their blessing — so you’re better off slowing things down and working the system at a pace that works well for them.

If you would like to hear for yourself what Susie and our other panelists from great companies like Google, PayPal, Moody’s Analytics and CA Technologies have to say about agile content development, check out this video of our discussion.