Content format ‘type’

First of all, I find it useful to consider different ‘types’ of content that a strategy can use.

Too many content ‘strategies’ consist of blog/news updates and tweets, and while these can be used to good effect, they are only a small proportion of the formats we can use. The classic explanation of different formats is ‘Stock and Flow’, which was published on Snarkmarket:

  • Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people that you exist.
  • Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.

This was written in 2010, and now we should also consider the notion of ‘curation’ (something that rapidly growing publishers like Upworthy and Buzzfeed have been very successful at). It largely entails:

  • Referencing things that aren’t yours.
  • Remixing available assets in a different way.
  • Getting your community to contribute.
  • Harnessing social to create content.

Content format ‘size’

Thinking about content types should help in matching customer needs and wants to what we produce. But there’s another factor we should consider: size.

‘Meal sized’ content sizes

A useful concept for different sized content is to think about it in meal sizes. As a maximum I normally say there are five sizes:

We can then take this basic concept and overlay it with stock/flow content types, formats and the role of each part, like so:

We’ve placed chosen content ‘formats’ over the particular sizes of previous pyramid. I’ve then added its ‘type’ on the left and its particular ‘role’ on the right.

You could certainly change the chosen formats to something that’s more suitable for your company. After all, not everyone would want to maintain a blog and an article (news/features) feed – you could change this to three minute videos or infographics, for instance.

Each ‘size’ of content gives an indication of the amount of information and cost associated with the format.

By and large, social is always going to be the ‘bite-sized’ top of the spectrum, because each update contains limited information and is relatively cheap.

Content that is information rich and costs more, like this bespoke piece, will be at the bottom because it takes the biggest investment. Using this spectrum can thus also give you a top line illustration of cost.

In the last article in this series I wrote about ‘big honking ideas’. The biggest content at the bottom of the pyramid is the richest incarnation of that, but this idea should be able to filter down the spectrum, with the ability to be remixed to feature within other types.

For instance, if you did a large white paper or longform article, then information gathered for this could be used on other formats, like news and features or a blog.

Exactly how we do this is the focus of the next article in this series, thinking about Content Platforms.