When you come up with new content, you often think of a topic first. But your content’s format determines your content’s effect just as much as the content itself. Your content format determines how you deliver a certain message. This way, you not only determine how your target group can consume your content, but the format also has an impact on the entire experience of your content and your brand.
As a content creator, you always tend to choose a specific format. This is usually text or video and audio, to a lesser extent. But besides these three basic formats, you have much more choices. Variation in content formats requires more effort but is certainly important. By choosing multiple formats and alternating them, you prevent:
- Your target group experiences your brand as boring or ‘always the same.’
- People who have a different preferred way of accessing information miss or skip your content
- You are missing out on the best match between content and format
You see the latter in particular happen regularly. For example, content is invariably shared in a text form, while that information might have come into its own even more in an infographic, podcast, or video.
14 kinds of content formats
With this classification, each content format clearly has different properties, although there is sometimes a certain overlap. For example, a story is basically very similar to an image carousel, but the elements that you can add give a story different properties and possibilities. Based on properties, this basic division into content formats is created.
Table of Contents
- 14 kinds of content formats
- Reusing content in a different format
This content format speaks for itself and yet it is not. Because with text, you don’t just have to think of the fairly standard format of an article of 500 to 800 words. But you can certainly also think of:
- Ultra short copy
- Longcopy articles (from 1500 words)
- Press release
Podcasts and audiobooks are the best-known forms of audio content and other forms of audio content are often similar. For example, an audio diary or a radio broadcast quickly falls under the heading of ‘podcast.’
Video also comes in all shapes and sizes. Think of:
- Animated movie
- Explanation video or demonstration video
- Talk show
- Series of edited images with or without subtitles or voice-over
- TikTok’s, Reels and micro-video
Social media and YouTube give you plenty of opportunities to use live video in all kinds of formats. From ultra-short (15 seconds or less) to 3 hours (or more), a talk show or interview, or a monologue. And, of course, you can demonstrate things live, explain things, let people watch an event or give a look behind the scenes.
Image carousel or collage
A combination of images that tell a story together creates a certain atmosphere together or has entertaining value together. If you are going to use this, make sure that:
- All images really add something
- Your image compilation is also clearly visible on mobile
- The viewer can navigate forwards or backward
- The images must always have the same format or that variation in formats reinforces the overall impression
An image carousel does well on social media. Instagram, for example, keeps track of how far people scroll through the carousel and chooses, partly based on that interaction, to show your message to more or fewer people.
Technically speaking, gifs are micro videos, but the content and form make them very specific to use, which is why I consider them a separate and completely unique content format. Whether you make them yourself or take them from an existing collection, with a gif, you put your own stamp: usually mocking, friendly, sarcastic, cynical or funny.
A meme is nothing more or less than an image with some text. Yet, just like a gif, a meme manages to create its own atmosphere and therefore transcends an ‘ordinary’ image with text.
Tools for memes
As a social media format, a story is much more than an ‘ordinary’ image-text combination, thanks to the stickers, colors and interactive elements you can add. It also encourages a certain action much more than an average image.
In addition, there are Web Stories. You can create these on a WordPress website and they are quite similar to a social media story. The nice thing about Web Stories is that Google indexes them and they gradually get an increasingly visible place in the search results.
This content format is ideal for visualizing different data together, allowing you to transfer information in a visual way. Many infographics have a business character, but you can make them very entertaining. Making a good infographic can be an easy task if you use a good graphic design tool.
Comic and cartoon
Few brands structurally use comics and cartoons as content formats. Partly because of this, it can be a perfect way to distinguish yourself. With a comic or cartoon, you can quickly show the core of something. You can keep them business-like by sharing information, but you can also make them inspiring or entertaining by working with color, atmosphere or humor.
An ideal format if you want to provide interaction or if you want people to actively work with certain knowledge. The quiz is then a knowledge test to which you can possibly connect an appropriate next step. But mostly, quizzes have an entertaining value. A quiz is interactive and useful for growing a mailing list.
This visual format shows your progress over time or in results. For example, if you want to show the milestones of an organization, development, event, trend, product or product category. Or the progress a customer has made thanks to your product or intervention.
For example, a weight consultant can show how a client lost weight over a certain period, but you can also use the timeline format to visualize the origins and development of the Huishoudbeurs or the growth in the use of photo albums.
Map or Route
With a map, you can quickly show where your company is located and provide an overview of locations or an overview of partners. Routes are relevant to the content for companies if those routes match an offer. Running, walking and cycling routes are obvious, but it can also be an ingredient route or a discovery route that allows you to let people experience more. That route can be done virtually or in real life and this way, you can also let your target group discover destinations. But a roadmap can also have very different benchmarks. Then it becomes more of a step-by-step plan with ‘stations’ and does not have to have a geographical character.
Teaching material can, of course, be an e-Book or video and, in that case, falls under one of the other content formats. But as soon as you organize the teaching material as a course and have it consumed, an extra format is created.
Another example is webinars, where you share knowledge but also let people ask questions, answer polls and sometimes go to a breakout room together to exchange ideas. That is different from a (live) video.
Reusing content in a different format
It is always useful to have the formats at hand. This way, you will also use a different format more quickly, offering your target group more variety. Moreover, you can ensure that you can alternate rational content (knowledge and helpful information) with more emotional content that inspires and entertains.
But such an overview has another advantage: you can quickly see whether you can also cast a piece of content in a second or third format. With this extra, you partly reach other people, and it gives you extra content for other channels. This way, you get more return from your content.
This way, I can also package the summary in this article as an image carousel that I can easily animate into a video. But it’s also easy to convert to a standing, infographic-style visual.