Recapping Confab 2013

I just got back from Confab 2013 yesterday. For the last three years, Confab has been the annual gathering for people like me, content strategists.

I’m not writing today to explain the ins and outs of content strategy, but I will provide a short definition:

Content strategy helps you identify which content will help you accomplish your business goals AND create the systems and structure to ensure it can actually be created and maintained.

Check out this post by Kristina Halvorson if you’re interested in a more in-depth explanation.

Ok, now let’s get down to the meat. I want to share a fantastic tidbit from the conference that can help you make better content decisions.

The anatomy of digital content OR content in three parts

Digital content can seem confusing. There’s so much to keep track of: blogs, video, articles, websites, social…just to name a few things you’ve probably heard of. How is it possible to keep track of everything, much less, leverage content to deepen them impact of your non-profit?

Don’t despair.

In her session, Ahava Leibtag presented a brilliant way to understand content, by breaking it down into three parts:

1) Information

The core element of digital content is information. Before you start thinking about things like websites or blogs, you must identify a relevant and compelling message to communicate to your donors and supporters. Without a message, there’s no need to create content in the first place.

2) Content formats

The information you share with your audience is conveyed through different content formats like blog posts, video and articles. Let your message dictate the format you’ll use. Ask yourself questions like this: “Would it be more compelling to tell the story of a starving child in Africa with an article or a photo essay?”

3) Distribution Vehicles

Once you’ve decided which format to share your information, all that’s left is to choose the distribution method. Distribution methods are things like emails, websites or social media.

Understanding these core elements of content won’t solve all your challenges, but it will allow you to start asking the right questions. Questions like:

  • Will we have enough information to share if we start blogging every day?
  • Is an article on our news page really the best format to use when we introduce our new CEO?
  • Should we maintain an active Pinterest presence if we have trouble taking compelling photos?

Go forth. Ask hard questions about your content. And remember, you should only start talking about formats and distribution vehicles when you have compelling and relevant information to share.

Find me on Twitter or shoot me an email if you want to hear more about the conference. I’d love to talk.