If you’re anything like me, you stumble across content ghost towns all too often. Abandoned buildings with blown-out windows and the stench of outdated information permeate the air of ancient blog posts with years-apart dates. This is the fallout from unsustainable content strategy and it happens to just about everyone, from sole practitioners to Fortune 500s.
It’s only getting worse. With more and more content comes more and more ghost towns. It’s a problem because those ghost towns typically stick around for a long time reflecting poorly on their authors and namesake brands. And this is by no means confined to blogs. Webinars and videos; interactive tools; podcasts and just about every other form of content can be found littering the virtual streets of abandonedville.com.
Not All Content is Equally Sustainable
To stay clear of undermining your good name and brand, it pays to create a sustainable content strategy intentionally designed to have lifecycles that makes sense. Some content is evergreen, some is not. Some content is timely, some is not. Some content is damaging when it ages out, some is not. And some content is damaging when it’s absent, and some is not.
As Anna and I spun up Married2Growth, we set out to create two types of original content assets: articles and videos. We then planned to scale the written content into audio podcast versions, but that’s about distribution, rather than producing another original asset. Make no mistake though, distribution plays a big role in sustainability. My go-to-market plans for assets have often been far more demanding than the actual creation of the asset. And, with distribution comes far-flung management and maintenance of subtly-versioned iterations. That stuff is tedious to track and complex to maintain.
As a process-driven CMO, I want everything documented. But keeping track of where and how assets are used across the web (especially earned media) represents non-zero overhead that’s too easy to postpone or neglect. And, the more things are shared the better… so that’s nearly impossible to track if you’re allowing or encouraging downloads and versioning.
Process, Command and Control of Content
This begins to tickle the need for centralized control and a tactical plan to maintain a finite and trackable number of actual assets behind your content strategy. Yes, sharing is enabled and encouraged, but using players and embeds more than files and downloads. That way, the centralized versions can be updated and all instances will naturally follow suit.
But still, no matter how thoughtful and thorough you are, quantity can get the best of quality in a heartbeat. Most content marketers still produce too much content and leverage it too little. And, with that emphasis on more, more, more, comes lower quality and more chances for abandoned, unsustainable streams.
The key is to completely understand the resources required to produce quality content and scope quantity to those resources. Completely understanding resource requirements means having an end-to-end plan for creation as well as distribution, tracking, management and maintenance. Once all of that is mapped, you can translate it into resource hours (and types) to determine what quantity of quality content can be sustained.
Once you get to the point of realistically understanding what your resources can sustain, you have a much better chance of managing, maintaining and sundowning streams within your content strategy. You will know where every asset is. You will know when each one expires. You will have a plan for how sundowned content elegantly goes away. You won’t leave relics in the desert.