Preparing my last lesson about content marketing, I was wondering how to approach the content within the content strategy: Which is the best approach in analyzing, planning and creating contents?
In order to avoid to “reinvent the hot water”, I took a look at the content marketing literature.
I found that still persist a little bit of confusion when you are required to classify and organize contents.
Most of the suggested approaches don’t make clear how to analyze and classify a content and, therefore, how to classify resources and hereby find out new opportunities. For example: sometimes Infographics are classified as content type, other times they are describes as a content tool, in other approaches they simply are content formats. The same happens about images, used sometimes as support and other times as type of content.
So I arranged a 4-category classification that I normally use when I’m required to define a content production strategy. The four categories are:
- Content Type. It’s about the type of information we are going to drive to audience. It include the already well known what-post, why-post, how-post, and list post. Don’t worry, I am going to explain in detail.
- Content Brick. It’s about the elementary parts of content: text, image, video and sound.
- Content Medium/Channel. It’s about the technology platform we use to broadcast our content. It includes, for example: website, blog, facebook, twitter, social media, etc.
- Content Format. It’s about the way we are going to combine types, supports and channel in order to express the content type. For example Infographic is a format combining text and images using a graphic format. A Webinar is the results of combining content type with video and a channel (the web).
1. Content Type
“Content type” is about which need the content wants to respond. Following the content marketing literature we can identify for types of contents:
- List posts. They are post / content giving a list of items coherent to a certain topic. For example: the list of 10 maust-to-visit cities in Italy; the top 10 famous actors in the world.
- What-Posts: they are content related to general informations. They include news, but also “about pages”, “product sheet”. They are content having as onşy objective to get people informed about something.
- Why-posts: they are content that want to explain the reason why of an information. For example: “Why to invest in China”, “why to use WordPress”, “Why content marketing is important”. They usually are supported by research data and they try to change reader’s opinions
- How-post: they aim to explain how to solve a specific problem. For example: how-to install Linux, how-to create a marketing plan, how-to install a solar panel.
Usually all content can be classified as one of these types but it happens that a content can combine two or more of these. For example an How-post can be structured as a List post such as “How to analyze a content in 5 steps”. This post, for example, is a list post but has typical elements of the What post.
It’s important to decide which of the type is prevalent. It depends on the goal you have. For example, the post “5 cities you have to visit once in a life” is a typical List Post even if you are giving statistical data or news about the cities because, probably, your main intent is to suggest cities; data and news are only supporting arguments.
2. Content brick
Every content is made bay one or more element, that I call “Bricks”. These elements are: text, image, video, audio. They are the very basic elements of each content we are going to create. Think at a blog post: it could be just a text, or include an audio with a voice reading the text; it could include videos or images. Better, think a post on facebook: it could be just an image, a video or a text post or combine two of them. Combining these tools we can create up to 24 different contents. They are our Lego Bricks.
3. Content Medium/Channel
Content channel is the medium used to drive a content to our audience. There are a lot of Channel and it is quite hard to list all of them, especially if we also add all the off line ones such as “events”, “television”, “radio”, “cinemas”, “display”, ad so on. It’s much more useful to categorize according the channel types:
- Publishing (WordPress, Wikipedia, overblog, typepad, etc.). Usually they are managed by you and let you editing and publishing your content.
- Sharing (Pinterest, Vimeo, Youtube). Generally they are platform where you publish contents created with other tools and uploaded to them in order to let your followers sharing with their network.
- Discussing (Github, Reddit, Quora, Forum, etc.).The main goal of discussion channel is to let people talk about topics, exchanging ideas, solving problems.
- Networking (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Viadeo, etc.).The main scope is to get people connecting each other.
A yearly updated channel list is available in the “social media landscape” by Fred Cavazza. The Social Landscape 2016 adds two more categories: Messaging and Collaborating in order to include include tools such as WhatsApp and Messenger aiming to let people communicating. The collaborating category aim to highlight the exchanging of problem/solution topic among members (slack, yammer and so on).
4. Content Format
Content format combines content type, support and channel and it’s how the meaning is delivered to the target audience.
An example of content format is Infographic, usually a “why” or “how” post that use a combination of images and texts and it is distributed through a publishing or sharing channel. Webinar is another format, giving how/why/what post contents distributed through a sharing channel.
You can more than 150 formats on Convince and Convert website. They treat types as format but, other than that, offer a good starting point in order to explore possibilities.
How to use the content classification
This content classification can be used in eespecially during the content auditioning and ideation:
Auditing. When you are mapping the contents you already have, you can use this classification in order to describe in detail what you’ve produced. To the general schema of content inventory, such as the one purposed by Moz, you can add these variables as column and populate them with their features. For example, in the inventory of this post we’ll have:
- Content Type: List Post
- Content Brick: text
- Content Channel/Medium: Blog
- Content Format: Blog Post + Image
Ideation. Whe you have to think how to buid your content, you can use this matrix in order to set every part that your content must have. For example, in the future this post can be designed like this:
- Content Type: How-post
- Content Brick: Video
- Content Channel: Youtube
- Content Format: Video Tutorial
When I will join the content creation step, I will surely know what I need to buid the content. And I can focus on organize the production.
This method start from the assumption that a message can be express in different ways, especially when we are going to create for the web. So I separate the meaning of what I have to say from the form used to tell it. This approach let me:
- to have a more “scientific” method in the content auditing. As any scientist do, I can go deep into all the elements I’m using and I can evaluate how is working each element.
- to have a common framework in analyzing competitor’s contents. I can really compare my contents with the ones created by my competitors and, for each element, I can find out my strength, weakness and opportunities.
- to explore all the possibilities I have when I’m planning contents. Having each element as independent, I can recombine them to design new formats.
- to know what I need in content creation, saving a lot of time because it tell me what to do.
Which methodology do you use in content analysis? I’d really like to know how do you approach at content analysis for content strategy.