Boston Content Hacks Away At Top Brands’ Content Challenges: Hackathon 2018 Recap

On June 20, over 50 members of Boston Content’s community convened for an evening of creative, content collective innovation. After kicking off the evening with pizza and networking, the event began with a keynote delivered by Boston Content co-founder Jay Acunzo.



Attendees then split into teams to help solve pressing content challenges for some of Boston’s top brands, including Mendix, Wish Route, Cuseum, Resilient Coders, RainTaps, Charitable Confections, and Horizons for Homeless Children. The sky was the limit as attendees flexed their creative muscles to solve tough problems with fresh insight.  

After a one-hour “hack,” attendees reconvened to present their ideas to brand representatives and the rest of the group. Below, check out some participating brands' biggest pain points going into the hackathon, as well as what strategies they plan to use as a result of being content hacked.  

Special thanks to our host, Joanna Cohen and Fidelity Labs and drink sponsors, Drift!

Charitable Confections: paying it forward

The challenge:

“We applied as a two-pronged entity that includes the Haiti Scholarship Association, which is our partner organization ("charity du jour") in Haiti and currently has a nonfunctional website. The success of every program that we implement in Cite Soleil relies directly on the functionality of HSA, and how well potential volunteers understand what we are trying to accomplish. We would like to get to a point where the content on both of our sites have a cohesiveness that reflect our joint programs and projects.”

The outcome:

“During the hackathon, my group discussed tactics that would help my nonprofit and our Haitian partner organization implement a new tutoring idea, called "Pay it forward," that would rely on having guests at a Port-au-Prince-based upscale hotel -- where one of our Haitian volunteers works -- come to our center in the slum village of Cite Soleil to do a one-time volunteer teaching stint. That guest would then find another guest to visit our center to pick up on where the previous tutor had left off in the lesson plan, thus continuing the cycle of benevolence.

What I really appreciated about the input was that it addressed the issue from multiple angles that included both website and flyer content as well as how to conduct follow-up exit interviews to gain a better understanding of how we could continue to improve our methodology. The suggestions were also broad in scope as far as dealing with potential outcomes, ranging from the most aspirational (having the hotel feature our nonprofit's work on their site) to the bleakest (having none of the guests care enough about the plight of the children to feel any motivation to help)."  


The challenge:

“We need help developing a content plan to grow readership in different regions: the U.S., Netherlands, the U.K. and Germany. We have year over year growth in the U.S. but in our other regions we don't have consistent growth. We also need to figure out how to gain blog subscribers without having people unsubscribe from our blog.”

The outcome:

“Our team focused on the theme of career growth and career transformation for how Mendix can help close the talent gap -- making it possible for non-developers to seek new career paths, for professional developers to accelerate their careers, and for CIOs to develop their teams. As a result of the brainstorm, the content team at Mendix is going to develop content that highlights the trajectory of a person's career when they use Mendix. We hope to empower others about what's possible with low-code application development.

Another challenge we face at Mendix is delivering content that is engaging for people in different regions. As a result of our brainstorm, we are going to develop blog posts for our international partners to post on their websites to raise awareness of Mendix in local markets across Europe.

Many thanks to everyone at Boston Content for all the great ideas!”  

RainTaps: international beer day? heck yes.

The challenge:

“My top challenges with content are:

  • Generating consistent content

  • Finding content partners

  • Creating a clear message for the blog. Because of the breadth of the possible content (fashion, beer, tap handles) and limited number of posts, the blog doesn't have a clear message.

The current goals for the business is to develop a small base of loyal customers and have consistent sales. I'm looking to form a group of customers that will bring repeat business and will also be advocates for the product(s). Along with that I'd like to have some steady sales through the year.”

The outcome:

“My team came up with the brilliant idea of doubling down on Instagram engagement with followers and brewery partners by doing a series of giveaways leading up to International Beer Day on August 3rd. For each day of the campaign, I'll give a follower a cool piece of merch to promote one of the breweries. I've already selected a couple of the breweries and I'm about to start ordering some of the merch.

Another idea was to create visually informative pages around popular beer regions. This is to make my site more engaging when visitors are browsing around. For this, I'm going to take some of my existing content around individual breweries and use it to build out the regional pages.

Really excited to see what the results of the new strategies are!”

Wish Route: leveraging partnerships

The challenge:

“Wish Route promotes and curates content for our users, rather than creating original content. One challenge is understanding opportunities and strategies for cross promotion: If we promote an exercise video, article or recipe to our users, is there an opportunity to ask that content creator to consider promoting Wish Route? How would they go about that? What is the shareable moment? Another set of challenges is the time it takes to find and vet content -- this includes tracking content we have vetted and capturing the right information (tags) about each piece of content so we can match it to a specific user. Currently we use excel spreadsheets but assume there are better ways and technologies we could use.

We are also manually testing the exercise- and nutrition-related wishes with a sample of test users as we refine/develop the service. Feedback thus far is awesome! We are looking for the right tech savvy team member who can help us build a web application to support the Wish Route process. This will allow us to add automation/AI and scale to a larger beta test and ultimately to a product we can go to market with. We aim to have a product to market early 2019.”

The outcome:

“The incredible group of content hackers came up with really fun ideas for a partnership program. To list a few: Interview the experts and create panel events -- we can post to our YouTube channel and the interviewees  may share the interview with their followers too. Create a “seen on Wish Route” badge that bloggers can add to their site. Share feedback we get from our users with the content creator and create awards for content that is most impactful to our users. Everyone likes to win awards and knowing your content had a big impact is even more powerful. Thank you to Boston Content and all our hackers. Can’t wait to roll out many of the ideas that come from our session!”