(Above: Kathy Matosich at Instagram’s offices in Menlo Park, CA: Image by Charlotte Nesbitt)
You might not know it it, but content strategy is everywhere on Facebook.
It’s hard to realize how much content Facebook has, because its primary role is to help you find stories from your friends. But, as I found out during my internship with the Facebook content strategy team over the summer, every word, every comma, every category heading on the platform, has been meticulously crafted to be simple and straightforward, so you can easily share with your friends what matters most.
With my internship, I had an intensive, three-month opportunity to see how the content strategy team works with people in different roles, from designers, to the internationalization team, to the engineers. Content strategists at Facebook also get to put their hands in a little bit of everything, from maintaining the voice and tone of how Facebook communicates with people, to crafting strategies around education for new features.
If that sounds like a lot to absorb in just three months, it was, so here are five big things I learned about Facebook and content strategy from my time in sunny California (that is, when we weren’t too busy having earthquakes…).
1. It’s important to have a strong personal communication strategy
Whether you’re communicating through Messenger, in a Facebook Group, or through regular old email, it’s important to be clear and concise. The same goes for video conferencing. With offices all over the globe, your collaborations are with people whose native language may not be American English. This is a good thing, but it means you have to really know what you think, and how to effectively communicate those thoughts with your team.
2. In content strategy you never work alone (nor should you)
There is always an opportunity to get opinions and share ideas with other content strategists, whether it’s one on one, or in regular feedback groups. Heck, maybe they’ve even already solved an issue you’re facing in their own work.
That’s one of the things I like the most about content strategy, how it acts like a knitting stitch. No matter what type of thread or yarn you’re working with, the content strategy should have the same gauge and tension to tie it all together, creating one finished piece.
3. Being more open and connected isn’t just a slogan
Facebook really lives its mission to make the world more open and connected, starting with their workplace. For example, Mark Zuckerberg gives a weekly Q&A where anyone in the company has an opportunity to ask him questions (yes, even interns).
It’s also evident outside the office with the amazing work they’re doing with Internet.org: a partnership with nonprofits, local communities, and technology companies to help bring the internet to the two-thirds of the world that doesn’t have access.
4. Be ready for feedback – lots of feedback
Everyone who works at Facebook acts as quality control for everything. Each feature or product has a feedback group where other employees post bugs and comments. For example, I got to work on a new birthday message that pops out and lets you know you have birthday messages from friends. Since the project had already been started, it was immensely helpful to go through the feedback group and read up on the discussions so I knew what had already been thought out, and where the question marks still stood.
The amount of feedback sounded completely overwhelming at first, but I came to appreciate it more than the espresso maker in the kitchen – and, believe me, that’s saying a lot!
5. Facebook learns from the best
Lots of great companies focus on continuing employee education, but Facebook really puts its money where its mouth is, with consistently amazing guest speakers on campus. There are always opportunities to learn new perspectives from designers like John Maeda and Mike Monteiro, politicians like Hilary Clinton, and even astronaut Buzz Aldrin. So many awesome people come to campus, it’ll make your head spin (in a good way, not in a creepy way like in The Exorcist).
I’d like to thank the entire content strategy team for being so welcoming this summer. If you’re a student interested in an internship with Facebook, check out lots more information about the Content Strategy Fellowship Program here.