Managing Your Content Management System

Alex Will and Henry Erskine Crum of Spoonfed Media. They run a web/mobile guide to live events in London.

This is a total geek-out topic. They’re going to discuss when and how to build your own content management system. As they and all of us will know, understanding content management systems with a high level of proficiency and confidence is a big part of mastering all of the digital content you have at your disposal. They publish 30,000 event listings a month and generate revenue from ads, sponsorships, and ticket sales. But a small team to manage all of that.

Will: Content exists in a lot of different forms and places. But today we’re talking about websites that have editorial content, not just user-generated content or aggregation.

W: You have to understand your production process before you can build your CMS. How do you collect data or create articles? How do you make the process of assigning tasks as efficiently as possible? How do you use the CMS to create task lists for each person? As a business owner, are you producing content as efficiently as possible? Do you need a review process? What about when you publish? Do you need SEO or to link in with social media sites?

W: UGC works incredibly well when you’re writing around venues — sites like Yelp. The problem with an event is that if you take the time to review it, then it’s gone [after the event is over]. So we needed an editorial voice.

EC: Why they chose to build a custom CMS:

Factors that didn’t matter:

  • Amount of data
  • Size of website
  • Complexity of idea

What did make them need custom CMS:

  • Data aggregation from multiple sources
  • Workflow management between editors
  • Reducing research time per event
  • Search engine optimization
  • Lead generation and contact management needs

A challenge they encountered: How to scrub the data you’re aggregating to eliminate duplicates and tasks.

Workflow management. How do you divide tasks, segment them, and prioritize them? What automated steps can you include? How do you reduce or eliminate time humans have to spend doing rote tasks?

W: Huge part of this is reducing research time. What they did: Give editors tools like Wikipedia, Flickr, Twitter, Google News inside the CMS. Spent a lot of time thinking about each step in the process and figuring out how to automate/improve/gain efficiency.

W: Added tool to aid editors in doing keyword research and suggest inlinking within the site.

EC: The Open Table model — allows company to generate leads and information about restaurants and patrons so they can use info to sell restaurants on providing reservations on their own websites through Open Table. Spoonfed leverages the event and venue knowledge they are collating to develop lead generation in a similar way. They create leads from data and use Highrise CRM to manage it.

Can also automatically alert members when they create content they may be interested in.

Future development planned: More work on prioritization of editors’ queues based on searches and other trend data.

Also more analytics work, reviewing what worked and determining how to leverage it in the CMS.

W: You have to continue to iterate your backend just like you do on the front of your website.

I found this to be a great panel. There was some negative chatter on the backchannel, but that seems mostly to have been from people who wanted to here a Drupal/Wordpress/enterprise product smackdown.