Shell rethinks the content creation process

Do you have too much or too little content on your website?

Most Boye members would lean towards too much, but in private would confess to having way too much content. The examples I’ve heard in the past decade of Boye group meetings are plenty, with websites and digital communication teams drowning in content.

Training, better tools, governance, centralisation of content creation are all di!erent approaches to trying to solve content overload, but maybe there is a better way?

I moderated a recent group meeting in London focused on digital leadership, where social media analyst & emerging platforms advisor John Atkins from Shell shared their fundamentally di!erent approach as shown below.

The new approach to content creation as illustrated by the digital team at Shell (credit: John Atkins and Americo Campos Silva)

The new approach to content creation as illustrated by the digital team at Shell (credit: John Atkins and Americo Campos Silva)

What’s wrong with the previous approach to content creation?


In brief: It does not put the customer or audience first.

The route taken by most organisations and their digital communication teams is outlined with the illustration formed like a pyramid.

Starting from the top, first,
you identify objectives, then
you spend more time creating content that ties to these objects and finally you spend plenty of resources placing the content, typically on your websites, on social media and often via advertising.

Not only are most organisations creating too much content with the previous approach, but one of the several good points by John from Shell was also, that most organisations are far from creating the right content. Take a look at your digital reporting, and you’ll probably find many great content pieces with very low readership numbers.

At the group meeting, John shared insights into their online analytics and measurement framework, which had informed their decision to rethink the content creation process.

A better approach to content creation


What John called the social media approach applies to other digital channels too and as you can see on the illustration it takes another point of departure: First you research relevant content.

That’s right. You can safely assume that there’s more or less enough content out there.

As the next step, you spend a bit more time tying the content to your objectives and then you finally you invest fewer resources in placing it.

Besides putting the customer first, John listed 5 key advantages with this new approach:

  1. Engage, instead of broadcasting

  2. Short form with impact

  3. Creating for people. You. Not we

  4. More emphasis on visual storytelling

  5. Targeting relevant interests

The Boye take

Too much content is a real and big problem, but even more so, there’s too much bad corporate content out there.

John and the team at Shell are clearly onto something with this clever way of changing how we think about content creation. And they have the numbers to prove that it works. Well done!

With limited resources available, innovative work is still required to enforce and educate changing processes like these. This will remain a challenge for global brands and other organisations alike.

Learn more about digital communication trends

Feel free to share your feedback on the process by posting a comment below and share your learnings together with the rest of the Boye community.

Want to learn some more? Sara Walsh from Google introduced conversation design to the Boye community. Not just in relation to chatbots, but as a different way to think content design. Another buzzword is Content Operations, which aims to bridge the gap between strategy and production.

If you want to meet with your peers, then do consider joining a relevant Boye group.