Published on September 23rd, 2010 | by Rahel Bailie5
Knowing content strategy means knowing content
A revered professor taught that our worlds are defined by our vocabularies. The broader the vocabulary I have for the concepts I understand, the larger my world will be. So it is with content strategy, and particularly with content.
I was planning to write an article on the definition of content. Well, technically, it would be another article, as I already wrote A practical definition of content.
I’ve been conducting interviews with client stakeholders this past week, and one of the questions is “what kind of content do you work with?” The answer I’m looking for is about genre (reports, minutes of meeting, project charters, and so on) but overwhelmingly, the response is about format (Word, Excel, Visio). This tells me that our vocabulary is not aligned, and their understanding of content is not the same as mine. A similar miscommunication happened in a meeting where an information architect told me that content meant any unstructured information in an enterprise, such as email, of course. Of course. A reminder that I need to expand my vocabulary to understand and incorporate alternate definitions.
When I speak with Web content strategists, their definition of content is HTML-based marketing content destined for a website. When I speak with social media pros, their definition of content included tweets and posts and comments. In speaking with technical communicators, they slice their definition of content quite differently. It’s about genre + output. The genre could be procedural, for example, and the output could be print, PDF, a website, or a knowledge base. To a developer, content is whatever goes between the tags; just tell ’em where it needs to be routed, and they’ll get it there.
So what is content to you?