I gave this lightning talk at Confab London in 2013 while I was working for Facebook. The name of the talk comes from an internal group where people share ideas that genuinely worked.
Hi, I’m Nicole. I’m a content strategist at Facebook in New York.
I work on timeline, the developer center, and community. I’m on a team of 13 content strategists—and growing!
I want to share some things I’ve done to influence people and product decisions in positive ways. We’ll go through them pretty quickly.
Sit with your team
It might sound obvious or unreasonable, but it’s much easier to get strategic work done if you sit near engineers and designers that are working on your product.
It can be really tempting to introvert and scheme up grand content plans. Get out of your shell, get off your phone, and get to know people. Your relationships with coworkers are more important than anything you can put down on paper.
Get your nose in
I just moved to New York to be with my fiancé. He taught me how to change lanes: you have to get your nose in. It may seem aggressive to stick yourself into a conversation, but tiny actions that show you care can help you break through the impossible.
Lunch > Email
I don’t know about you, but work email gives me a headache. It’s faster and easier to get people on your side if you share a meal with them.
Use concrete examples
Get into concrete examples or sketchy prototypes as quickly as you can. Otherwise, you’re bound to be going in circles over email.
Show 3+ options
If you’re working on copy, share 3 or more options. People are more likely to make good content decisions if you help them by showing variations.
Edit it live
When I worked on the latest timeline redesign, there was some talk about changing “About” to “Overview.” By showing edits in context during a meeting, I was able to convince people that you don’t get an Overview of a person.
You can do this sort of thing in your browser with Inspect Element or in Keynote or Powerpoint by typing over a screenshot.
Test content in pairs
If you’re working to build a larger audience or encourage them to finish a task, try testing content changes in pairs.
This is a very basic example, but if we wanted people to say where they work, I might change the question to “Where do you work?” and change “Position” to “Title” to see how it goes.
Trust in people
Again, your relationships with your team and your process are a huge part of your success.
Ask neutral questions
Whatever you’re working on or doing, there’s a history there. Instead of putting people off by asking cold or accusatory questions, keep your tone neutral. I’ve learned this the hard way by saying “Why?” a lot without taking the time to understand the backstory.
Pull in some friends
If you’re having trouble convincing someone of something, try pulling in a few colleagues. In my case, I might talk to another content strategist, an engineer, or a designer to convince a lawyer or product manager of something.
Let ideas steep
If you’re like me, you love coming up with new ideas—but timing is everything. If you have a good idea that doesn’t take right away, hang onto it and bring it up later. Whenever I let something go, it comes up again later in the quarter.
When we’re all moving quickly and reacting to things, it can be easy to get frustrated.
If you say something you don’t mean or make a mistake, apologize sincerely and move on. Cupcakes are helpful here too.
Take a walk
No matter what mood I’m in, my head gets clearer if I take a walk. Go somewhere you haven’t been before. Get a breath of fresh air.
That’s it for today. Thanks, friends!