Tools help us share our stories, but they don’t create them for us

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Some of my talks in the later part of 2015 have been about tools:

  • At WordCamp Omaha I talked about the wonderful Jetpack plugin and how it makes content distribution so much easier.
  • At SUGCON North America, a Sitecore conference in New Orleans, my talk focused on when to pick Sitecore for your blogging project and when to go when to go with WordPress.


I love WordPress and this site runs on WordPress. I also love the Jetpack plugin, which has been created by Automattic – the makers of WordPress and combines a number of popular plugins into one install. It helps me focus on content creation instead of shopping for plugins. Sitecore is also a great tool, as I mentioned in my SUGCON talk. But people use them for different purposes.

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tools - personalization sugcon slideSitecore’s biggest advantage is personalization. In a nutshell, Sitecore can deliver truly personalized content to people. Based on my interests, it would serve different content to me than it does to you. It’s personalized based on our needs and interests.

In theory, that will eliminate all useless content to you – the end consumer!

But, here’s the thing these tools – as great and useful as they might be – won’t do for you:

They will not help you spot the stories worth sharing and then produce and actually share them. You still have to do that on your own.

In an organization, you need to have a culture that encourages storytelling – one where employees keep an eye out for things worth sharing and that are then actually shared. Yes, publicly.

The platforms and tools are important pieces to consider. They can make our lives harder or much easier depending on the ease of use.

The same is true with content gathering tools. It used to be that you’d have to sit in front of a desktop computer to write posts, get a professional photographer to take photos or buy a stock image. Today, all of those things can be done from our iPhones. Yes, there’s still a time and a place for professional photography, and for sitting down and writing a longer piece from a desktop computer (which is more likely actually a laptop), but many stories can be created from just the iPhone.

I mention this here because I sense a trend that some people focus too much on the tools, and not as much on what to actually use those tools for.

The example I give is this unfortunately common blog example:

  • Somebody launches a blog.
  • They publish a blog post saying that they will blog weekly about xyz.
  • Then nothing for six months.
  • They publish a blog post that says: “Sorry, I haven’t published anything for six months. I will start now.”

But their blog looked really nice and was well designed!

These people certainly had tools to publish content at their disposal, but they didn’t. The right tool didn’t help them continuously publish content – leave aside good content.

The right tools are important and make our lives easier, but we still have to figure out what we are going to talk about! No tool – at least not currently – can do that for us.


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