This is one of the 52 terms in The Language of Content Strategy published by XML Press in 2014 and the contributor for this term is Sharon Twiss.
What is it?
A mapping of content from the input source to its multiple outputs. Works in conjunction with content models and content types.
Why is it important?
Provides a clear visualization to support technical implementation within a CMS of the business rules described by the content model.
Why does a content strategist need to know this?
A content flow is a visual tool that displays where the content elements that make up a content model get used. Much like a flow chart or process map, a content flow shows, at a glance, how efficient a content management system (CMS) can be to get your content routed wherever it needs to be displayed.
As the step between content typing and content modeling, this visual representation can reduce ambiguity about the content sources and destinations. This allows both content strategists and technical integrators to stay on the same page when it comes to customizing the CMS.
The benefit is not only for professional writers, who need to have a thorough understanding of how to accrue the most benefit from the content they produce. Business unit owners can better visualize how their strategic goals will be met when text and media are constrained by the content elements and content models and when it is possible to see which appear where. And subject matter experts who produce content can learn how to harness the power of a CMS, which helps generate better ideas about how to leverage content.
Another benefit is that when a CMS cannot route content as needed for business impact, content flows make it easier to identify where enhancements are needed. Content flows show how the magic happens, but they also show gaps in governance and business processes by illuminating what the CMS does, what people do, and what happens through agreements.