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Facebook’s Amy Thibodeau on why content strategy matters

3 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Building a successful online content strategy for your business is about more than launching a blog. Consider micro copy: all of the words that make up your company’s website interface, such as the “Submit” button or call-to-action links. These pieces of copy matter as much as the meat of your website, argued Amy Thibodeau, a content strategist for Facebook, while speaking at last month’s What’s Next D.C. conference.

Thibodeau said that most people question why Facebook has a content strategist at all — despite Facebook’s status as top dog in social networking, what content does it actually need to strategically produce? According to Thibodeau, it’s a lot.

Thibodeau’s work focuses mostly on the site’s interface, from the precise wording that asks the user, “What’s on your mind?,” to the less ambiguous, “Add photo/video.” All the pieces play a larger part of the overall Facebook experience.

Creating a content strategy for the interface starts with setting the tone. For Facebook, this included the decision of using the word “Like,” which has now become a ubiquitous part of the social site’s interface. Facebook settled on “Like” because it was a lightweight way to express a positive feeling toward something, Thibodeau said. “Love” was too heavy of a word, whereas in general people can feel more comfortable saying they liked something.

And for advocates of the “Dislike” button? Alas, Facebook has no plans to create one any time soon. Thibodeau said Facebook’s aim is to foster a positive experience online and having a “Dislike” button would make it too easy for users to express negativity, which is something that would vastly change the site’s environment. For now, folks who disagree or dislike something have to express themselves through a comment — requiring a stronger commitment to that particular feeling.

By opting for “Like,” Facebook created an avenue that encouraged users to freely share their ideas and thoughts without immediate fear of being disliked. That strategy has helped the site to boast nearly 60 million status updates a day and 5 billion pieces of content shared in a week.

So what are some steps you can take to start planning your site’s micro copy?

  • Start with a plan. Work with your internal teams to come up with a game plan. Choose wording for buttons and call-to-actions that clearly and efficiently moves your user throughout the site without creating unnecessary confusion.
  • Move fast and break things. That’s Facebook’s motto, according to Thibodeau. The No. 1 mistake you could make is to withhold a release because it’s not perfect enough. In a tech-savvy world that is all about the next new thing, you can’t expect everything to work the first try.
  • Don’t be afraid to be human. Connecting with your audience is key, so get rid of the jargon and the heavy blocks of text. Most users don’t have a long attention span, so concisely written content is key. Use words that help people express themselves in a more natural, personalized way to increase engagement with your site.