How to Create and Deliver Intelligent Information

A digital quest for conversation

In Canada, where I live, Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday of October, but is usually celebrated for the entire weekend. It’s a great time for people to hold feasts celebrating gratitude, and spend time with family and friends. Thanksgiving Monday is a “public” holiday, which means that government offices, and many businesses, are closed for the day.

My husband and I spent much of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Ottawa visiting family, and it wasn’t until we were en route back to Toronto that I realized that an empty refrigerator awaited us at home, with only half a bottle of wine! Holidays are great for people to get much-deserved time away from their work, but pose a problem for people like me who have not planned ahead and, as a result, face the prospect of a hungry and thirsty evening.

Luckily, Toronto is a big city that attracts many visitors, so the likelihood of finding a shop open on a holiday is quite high. The problem – finding which shops are open!

Thankfully we live in a connected world, where information is readily available to us pretty much anytime, anywhere. And, with my husband piloting our car down the highway, I was free to go on a digital quest to find out if there were any grocery stores open, and if so, how late.

Connected, but not conversant!

When users decide to go on a digital quest, they are, in effect, starting a conversation. Users choose to start the conversation the minute they enter a platform, and the conversation continues only if users are able to stay engaged, which means getting the information they need. Sadly, for me, the conversation didn’t go the way I had hoped it would.

My first attempt was to check out the website of a grocery store I frequent, Loblaws. My expectation was that when I reached the site, given the holiday weekend, I would see an immediate message related to the store’s holiday hours. I was indeed greeted with many messages about Thanksgiving, all related to “featured” foods and specials. But there was no information at all related to the store’s opening and closing hours. Given the holiday weekend, you would think the store would have anticipated that customers would need information about opening and closing hours, and provided it up front.

The province-wide liquor store, known as the LCBO, did just that, announcing to visitors as soon as they arrived that “All LCBO stores are closed on Oct. 14, Thanksgiving Monday.” Thank you, LCBO, for not wasting my time by making me dig further.

So, one failed attempt behind me, I decided to cast the net wider, and posed my question to the entire internet, typing in “Toronto grocery stores open on Thanksgiving”. One of the first search results returned to me looked encouraging, and I followed the link to an article in the Toronto Sun, with the promising headline, “What’s open/closed in Toronto on Thanksgiving.”

I was hopeful! But… here’s how the conversation continued:

What is “some”?

At least I know that I can find a list to “some” of the Beer Store locations that will be open. But, what about “some” grocery stores? Why isn’t a list provided? It appears that “most” of them are closed, but which ones are open? This is not a helpful conversation, so I abandon my search and resign myself to the fact that we will likely be ordering takeout, assuming we can find a place that is open.

Exchange of information is the heart of a successful conversation.

We expect that the person/platform we are trying to converse with has anticipated what we need to know and is willing to provide it to us without misdirecting us along the way.

Content as conversation requires us to anticipate what people need to know and provide it to them in the manner they need and deserve.

Join the conversation at tcworld conference 2019

What? Come to my lecture Content as Conversation: Connecting Content to the User Experience!

Where? At tcworld conference 2019 in Stuttgart!

When? On Wednesday, November 13, at 10:00 AM

Why? To learn more about turning content into engaging conversations that meet users’ needs.

Hope to see you there!


Pamela Kostur

Pamela Kostur

Pamela Kostur is the Program Coordinator for Centennial College’s Interactive Media Management post-graduate program, and teaches content planning and interactive strategy. She is also a Digital Strategy Consultant, helping clients to connect content to the user experience, and create engaging interactive experiences.
Pamela Kostur

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