When working in teams, understanding workflow is important. It helps to sort out who’s doing what, and how. And, the bigger the team, the more critical it is to connect the workflow dots.
That’s why when I start working with a client, I try to establish the desired workflow of every team that I work with.
Note that when I look at ‘desired workflow’, it makes the assumption that no two workflows are the same. The same way that no two teams or two individuals are the same. So, depending on specific organisations, teams, and projects, each workflow may differ.
In this post, I thought I would explore the concept of content process using a basic Content Workflow. This diagram is by no means definitive. It is just my way of understanding how I look at content right now, and how I hope to try and explain it to clients and to other people.
This content workflow may or may not change in time. But, for now, here is how I see it:
This workflow defines eight (8) distinct phases in the content process.
Phase One: Strategy
I often like starting every workflow with a strategy. In this case, a content strategy. Since you can read more about my approach to content strategy in another post, I will not go into this too much in this post.
Phase Two: Listen / Acquire / Brainstorm
In this phase, we see the different ways that content may begin in the production process: We basically consume content to start with. We listen to what is being said about our organisation or our topic of interest through alerts, news, etc. We acquire knowledge or information either as a deliberate act (through in-depth learning or research) or as a contributed piece (when someone sends something to us). And, we brainstorm ideas on content.
For this phase, the most common activities include: reading through RSS feeds, newsletters, social media streams, and other content, as well as talking to individuals.
Phase Three: Analyse
Here, we decide on what to do with the content that we listened to/acquired/brainstormed. We weigh the pros and cons, and perhaps even try to align with strategic goals. This phase may be done very briefly (ie, quick decision when we see a headline, a link, a Tweet, etc) or it may take a long time (ie, collect information and come up with a series of decisions).
Phase Four: Discard or Use/Retain
In this phase, we decide what to do with the content that came our way after we’ve analysed it. We either decide the piece of information is useless to us right now and we discard it. Or, it interests us enough to use or to retain it.
Phase Five: Engage or Save
Once we have decided we would use or retain a piece of content, then we also make the next step of either engaging with it or just saving it.
When we save the information, we can simply keep it in mind, or we may later go back to deciding whether to discard or to use/retain it.
In this phase, clipping notes and bookmarking may be some of the most useful activities.
Phase Six: Comment / Like / Share / Create or Build
When we decide to engage with content, we can do so in a variety of ways.
Liking or rating a piece of content that we encountered is probably the easiest form of engagement. It doesn’t require a lot from us to like, favourite, or rate a Facebook update, a Tweet, of a blog post, for example.
Sharing and Commenting are often harder to do for most of us. It takes an extra effort to compose and write an idea in order to comment, and sharing often appears as an endorsement. So, both this content engagement activities are often harder to come by.
Creating or Building is definitely the most challenging out of all the content engagement activities. This requires us to write our own blog post or article, or to produce our own video or audio. However, this is also the part that gives a lot of value to the whole content process.
Phase Seven: Socialise / Promote
Once we create/build our own content and/or share or comment on someone else’s content, we engage in the process of socialising that piece of content. This phase possibly rounds back to Phase Two of the content process.
However, if we want to make the most out of this phase, we should also take the time to look at the next phase.
Phase Eight: Metrics
This is the part where we gauge the success of Phase Two onwards – from the time we started collecting information to the time we started engaging with the content that we came across, as well as socialising our content.
And, this is when we also look back at Phase One, the strategy, to see if our content process has been successful based on what we set out to do.
How do you look at content process? What are your favourite content workflow tools?
If you can share some advice on content workflow, what would it be?
Shai Coggins is the Manager and Chief Digital Media Specialist at Vervely, an Australia-based agency serving local and international clients. One of the company's main clients is Microsoft. Shai has been featured in a number of media due to her online work, including being named as one of Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list (2009).