Insights from Harvard University on Content Strategy

Insights from Harvard University: Design Thinking Applied to Content Strategy

Converge 2017 Recap | Mike Petroff

Mike Petroff, senior associate director of content strategy at Harvard, presented a Converge 2017 session on the application of design thinking to content strategy. The conversation started with a discussion of owned versus rented media.

Owned media is everything that you have control over in terms of user experience—your website, blog and email communications, for example. With rented media—like native content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram—the platform determines who sees it, when they see it and how often it is accessed.

Rented vs. Owned

Take Facebook as an example. At one point in time, Facebook’s Mobile Only Active Users (MOAU) increased 23 percent again from already incredible numbers leading to 2,000 people watching now and the potential of up to 100,000 later.

Mike also recognized Harry Beckwith and his contribution to Design Thinking by sharing the design thinking process which included:

Empathize – Design – Ideate – Prototype – Test

Empathize – Design – Ideate – Prototype – Test

The conversation started with what appear to be two simple ideas:

  • First, define the problem.
  • Then, find the solution by putting the user at the forefront and map the needs of the user.

Sounds simple. But, how many of our strategies are based on filling up a content calendar with tweets and posts without really giving solid thought to what our audience cares about most? How can we design a content strategy that addresses, entertains and engages our students?

[Tweet “How can we design a content strategy that entertains and engages our students?”]

Through great stories and visuals, Mike brought each of the elements of design thinking to life focusing on the ability to:

  • Synthesize the information from the empathy stage
  • Develop a design concept to test
  • Ideate on how to take that strategy to life
  • Prototype the way in which it might work and test

Here’s a glimpse into some of the most compelling examples he shared from Harvard’s content strategy:

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A huge hats off to Mike and the team at Harvard for leading with user experience and building a sound strategy that engages their target audiences. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. Whether you’re working with a well-resourced team or manning a one-stop shop, consider these ideas the next time you’re planning your content calendar.

Want to learn more about the guy who runs the show at Harvard? Follow Mike on Twitter (@mikepetroff) for daily tips and insights.

Want to learn more about content strategy? Contact us to get the conversation started.

Ann Oleson
Ann Oleson
March 14, 2017