Can Content Help Us Find Love? An Evening with HowAboutWe

It was one week after Valentine’s Day, but you wouldn’t have known that by the way Melissa Lafsky Wall and Chiara Atik were talking about love.

The editorial director and the dating writer from the recently launched online dating site HowAboutWe talked with Chris Lavergne, founder of Thought Catalog, at Outbrain‘s Manhattan headquarters on Feb. 20.

Chris Lavergne, Melissa Lafsky Wall and Chiara Atik talk about love.

The topic was love, but specifically it was about building a content strategy around love and the editorial approach to writing for an online dating service. The Content Conversations meetup was co-sponsored by Outbrain and Contently.

Medium/Message: Content Strategy and the Heart

Content strategists sometimes warn brands to steer clear of overtly connecting their services and products to the stories that they tell on their blogs. And that can be good advice.

HowAboutWe’s blog is by dint of its very subject closely aligned with the company’s service. That is, the issues that surround love — commercially dependent upon the concept of dating — are what its readers presumably want to read about. Or else, what are they doing at a dating site?

“When we’re planning our editorial calendar we’re not thinking: what will drive the most leads,” Lafsky Wall said, however. “I think we make the big assumption that if you’re reading this, you’re interested in online dating, or you’re interested in dating, period.”

And so: “We want to produce content that will help the people that want to read it. We’re pretty focused on relationships,” she said.

“Are we going beyond the realm of love and relationships?” said Lafsky Wall. “Thus far, no, because why try and be something you’re not. Also, love and relationships can apply to just about everything.”

Editorial Freedom(s) at HowAboutWe

Writer Atik came on early as part of the HowAboutWe team so she’s seen the company’s arc from just about the beginning.

One thing that’s marked the voice of HowAboutWe’s blog? Editorial freedom, she said. The team is apparently not overly constrained in the usual ways, when it comes to what would typically get red-flagged by a brand’s marketing and legal divisions.

“We basically get free reign,” Atik said, “whether about online dating, or not about online dating.”

“We can talk about competing companies,” she said. “We can reblog things that OkCupid thought were interesting. If does a study, we can write about that.”

The company executives do not mandate that the content follows the HowAboutWe agenda.

“Obviously the goal, ultimately, for the brand, is to have users sign up,” Atik added. “But that’s not really our immediate concern, in planning content.”

Now That We’ve Found Love

Next up, said Lafsky Wall: HowAboutWe is starting to focus on life after a reader has solved the dating equation.

“Our new [service] that focuses on couples and how to make a relationship actually last,” she said. “With the idea that ‘OK, great, you’ve met the one. Awesome. Now, how do you keep it good? How do you keep the whole thing from imploding and starting back at the beginning?'”

Of course, should one’s relationship do just that, HowAboutWe has got just the site to help.

Freelance Writers Meetup ||| Feb. 19, 2013 ||| Post-Talk Reactions from James O’Brien on Vimeo.

Image by Flickr

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