What was missing from the Content Strategy Forum?

In April, Paris hosted the first ever Content Strategy Forum. The event’s website proudly proclaims:

170 attendees, 18 nationalities, 17 speakers, 1 volcano… Content Strategy Forum 2010 rocked the world!

The volcano was in Iceland, and the closest we came to rocking the world was a cursory mention in the Huffington Post, but I’ll grant the event was awesome.

One thing missing from that list, however, is “94 companies” (Plus a couple of universities and freelancers, and what have you). A glance through the attendees directory reveals a fairly wide organisational turnout – 24 students from two Parisian universities, countless design and marketing agencies, a series of tech firms, small and large. Two delegates from IBM, two from ARM, an appearance from RIM, Skype, and Facebook; twelve from the various bits of eBay.

Oh, and, err, nobody from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon, Play, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, the BBC, no banks I noticed, and I didn’t spot a newspaper. You get the idea. Facebook notwithstanding, you have to scroll through a few pages to Alexa rankings to find company names from the attendee list.

I find this interesting, and I’m not wholly sure what to make of it.

Of the large, web-centric, content-rich organizations conspicuously absent, at least one of two things is true:

  • They didn’t know about the event
  • They didn’t care about the event

Maybe these guys all have content strategy completely sorted, and it’s an utterly naturalised part of their business process. Maybe nobody at say, Apple or Play.com ever publishes a single piece of content that isn’t neatly tailored to their (clearly defined, of course) user and business goals.

Wouldn’t that be lovely?

The thing is, in that rosy and beatific world, there’s still a case for those folks to join the community. There are bound to be other perspectives, and things to learn. You see, the other thing achingly conspicuous by its absence was case studies.

In her keynote address, Kristina Halvorson made the point that what content strategy really needs is some big, loud success stories. A point I’d firmly second as a content strategist working within an organisation. Sarah Cancilla’s presentation on content strategy at Facebook included some very neat, specific examples, and was richer for it. It didn’t hurt that the example was Facebook – you’re getting impressively big numbers off base.

What about the other big boys? Is there anybody out there with a perspective? Do we all just look very silly to you, fretting away over text and images and users and purposes? Is content validation and maintenance so accustomed a part of your business that calling attention to it is like sniffing the air and saying “Hmm, a lot of nitrogen about today.”?

And if it is, do you have any wisdom to share?