CONFLUENCE is a content collaboration tool...
but what happens when you find out there’s more content than collaboration going on? It might surprise you to hear that what you thought was an engaging piece of work is actually missing core components that drive interest, participation, and collaborative feedback. Read on to get yourself out of the writer's rut and into the light of a beautifully-crafted Confluence page.
1. Content should be highly-focused
- Studies have shown that readers tend to lose interest in written work after the first 30-35% of an article. The best way to combat this dropoff is by using the inverted pyramid style shown below. This style takes into account that someone reading your work is likely trying to skim and solve an issue and won't have the time to read it all.
- An increasing number of people are interacting with content on phones and tablets, and the standard long-form articles are no longer as powerful as they were. Consider converting lengthy content to serialized pieces. Confluence makes it incredibly easy to drag and drop articles between folders, rearrange your folder hierarchy, and link new with existing pages to create cohesive bodies of work.
- Give readers a break... by including more white space between paragraphs. This allows readers a visual rest from what would otherwise be a wall of text - which increases the likelihood that they'll feel overwhelmed before they even start reading. Remember: big pictures, small words.
2. Use visuals to drive your story
- Use Confluence's simple interface to templatize your articles. This will help with refining your style, building recognition, and growing trust with your readers. The best way to find your own style is to self-survey the sites you interact with and consume the most from.
- Where are your eyes drawn?
- Take note of fonts and styles within the article - do they use large headers, white space, and images to drive their story?
- Visual content can contain important text like deep quotes (important sentences from your article) or compelling, funny, or dramatic images which keep interest through that 30% reader dropoff point.
- Once you have a few standard templates in your toolbox, creating content is faster and more organized, allowing you to focus on the message. Below is an example of work that I've done in my own confluence page to organize a new project landing space.
- Readers who interact with plain text content typically retain only 10-20% of that content in the future. However, upwards of 60% retention is achieved when content is paired with relevant images and strong organization.
3. Your content should be easy to find
- Content consumers are lazy (sorry person reading this article!) Which means that if they're trying to solve an immediate problem or are otherwise just browsing for interesting content, it needs to be delivered to them without a terrible amount of digging. Make heavy use of relevant tags, interesting headers, good hierarchy structure, and variations in textual style to draw the eyes to relevant information.
- Confluence has some really great tools to highlight new and updated content, including the activity stream macro. This handy little tool will allow you to organize and draw the eyes of readers and as an added bonus, there are tons of ways to filter this macro so that only the most relevant items are displayed
4. Define the purpose of your piece - easy as PIE
The PIE acronym is used to convey the three main purposes of writing: to Persuade Inform or Express (engage)
- If your article is intended to be an informational or how-to; are you enabling your reader to apply the information immediately? Are you thoroughly (but briefly) breaking your topic down into pieces small enough to ingest?
- If the goal of your page is to express opinions and drive engagement to a certain topic, are you taking steps to ASK your reader for feedback or action?
- Perhaps you are trying to persuade your readers or engage in a debate or feedback session. Take steps to examine your writing and make sure you're providing enough information to generate discussion while asking pertinent questions.
5. Expand your readership
Great! You've crafted an awesome piece of content. It has visuals, there is cohesion and organization - possibly a bit of drama - now what? If the number of people who read your work is still lower than it should be, it's time to do some outreach and marketing.
- Cross-link to/from articles of interest. If there is existing content that is being engaged at a high level, use that buzz to drive readers to newer content. A good way to do this inside of Confluence articles is to use navigation bars:
- Market your content! If you're writing for internal readers only, this could be as simple as striking up a conversation with your coworkers about what you've been working on and imploring them to check it out. Similarly, a well-organized and concise email highlighting the benefits of your article could be very useful.
- When marketing to readers who are external to your organization, social media can be extremely powerful too. Send up flares from LinkedIn, Facebook, even Instagram! Use one of your article's highly engaging visuals to create multimedia advertisements.
I hope this article has been useful in highlighting some of the powerful tools and strategies you can deploy to take your writing to the next level. Did I miss anything important? Let me know below!