Building multichannel experiences with the “Content Topic Wheel”

Georg Obermayr

In marketing, developing a topic across different media channels has become the standard. Starting a topic in a newsletter, linking to Facebook, putting related videos an YouTube, integrating users with surveys or user generated content, linking from print collateral to the web site and so on. In the past years building these multichannel experiences has become a craft on its own, resulting in often complex architectures of linking back and forth and funneling the user flow. The toolsets of Content Strategy and User Experience Design help a lot here in shaping true user centered multichannel experiences.

Despite that I often discovered a common pattern: Really good multichannel strategies often happen by accident, they are merely based around a single – often genius – creative idea. That’s fine of course, but in the long run you can’t rely on having these accidental ideas whenever you need one of them. Especially when your whole marketing strategy depends on a multichannel approach – something that’s going to happen in almost every company when making the switch to a digitally centered way of doing things. Therefore more planned ways to develop multichannel architectures are needed.

I’m a huge advocate of Content Strategy and the tools and methodologies it provides. I also use them often in workshops. For me they are key to every good multichannel strategy. However I often found a gap when moving from the topics discovered in the Content Strategy to the final implementation in the different media channels (or even in just one channel if that’s your goal). It is in that gap where most things rely on the one genius idea – a reliance I wanted to reduce. Attempting that I came across a tool I’d like to call the “Content Topic Wheel”. The wheel fits well in the development of a Content Strategy and is based on the discovered topics. But it can also easily used on its own in day-to-day business.

This is how the wheel works:

Voila! You made the move from abstract topics in your strategy to the final multichannel implementation. You also considered the actual user needs as well as diverse ways of playing the topic. You have everything on a calendar and now you can set the whole multichannel plan in motion.

If you are doing Social Media, you should do that process for let’s say three or four topics and mix all of them together in your editorial plan. That way you will end up with a very varied calendar based on the different needs of your users and spanning most of the spokes of the “Content Topic Wheel”.

Of course the wheel is not the only tool to develop a multichannel strategy. Customer journeys for instance are also very nice. But I like how easily approachable the wheel is and how fast you can come up with a mix of varied implementation ideas. I hope you find the wheel helpful too. Which tools do you use for multichannel strategies?

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Georg Obermayr

I’m one of those guys in the media production and publishing scene, that is often labeled as a thought leader. But I’m a practitioner. Day in and day out I work as Head of Crossmedia Production in an advertising agency. I’m hands on creating content infrastructures and designing websites, apps and social media stuff that are driven by these infrastrucutures. This it what grounds me. And it is this daily business work that helps me identifying the trends and emerging topics of our field. With that kind of real world knowledge, I’m an active participant in bringing our industry forward: I write a lot about agile publishing, digital publishing, development, and media production, not just here but also in well know magazines and journals. I’m a keynote speaker at conferences and do a lot of trainings and consulting work. Since I’m originally a print person, I was involved in developing industry guidelines for PDFX-ready. I co-authored the book “Agile Publishing”, still the 400 pages reference work on how agile processes move user experience and storytelling in the spotlight of todays multichannel world. I’m living at the intersection of design, content, technology and marketing. How hypes can be moved into practical use is what drives me every day.
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