Imagine walking into an apartment. As the door swings open, you find yourself bombarded by vast amounts of unnecessary clutter. It has overrun the living area, the kitchen reeks of old garbage, the carpet is barely visible underneath the mounds of disorder. You’re overwhelmed with the amount of stuff covering the entire space. In short, it’s a hot mess.
Content marketers find themselves in these types of moments all the time; we call it content hoarding.
This condition is running rampant amongst many brands, across all industries, verticals, and communities. Over countless iterations of digital properties, rotating resources, big ideas with small budgets, or simply a lack of strategy, brands can find themselves stumbling over the piles of content they’ve built up over the years. They feel they’ve become victim to their legacy content with the inability to know where to start cleaning it up, identify what goes where, or if they should just allow themselves to live amongst the mess.
Fortunately, there is hope for these brands. There is a way to turn that ‘hot mess’ into something glamorous to show off to the neighbors—and more importantly, prospective customers.
The answer is a robust, comprehensive content marketing strategy that revives their digital properties, puts them on the right track to success, and in turn makes them substantially more appealing to their target audience.
Here are 6 steps to solve your brand’s content hoarding problem.
Step 1: Admit That You Have A Content Hoarding Issue
All too often marketers believe that the more content they have the better off they will be. This is a misconception. Yes, content is highly valuable for brands to leverage across their many platforms to engage, interact, attract, and inform their target audiences. However, haphazardly holding onto content is not the answer, it is actually the problem. Agent zero for the content hoarding epidemic is this assumption that more is better. By admitting that content quality is more important than content quantity, you’ve made it through the first step.
Step 2: Build A Map To Where Your Content Lives
Digging up all the content that exists in your brand’s ecosystem is no easy task, especially when new teams are onboarded, old properties are expanded or purged, and there is no clear map to where it all lives on owned and unowned media platforms. This daunting exercise comes with great reward though. By identifying where your content—public-facing or gated—exists will help organize in later steps. For those obsessive folks, imagine the feeling of looking at a messy room, building a blueprint for where things will be stored or thrown away, and then executing on it. It’s a To-Do Lister’s dream scenario. Declutter with a map.
Step 3: Identify Which Audience Your Content is Reaching Vs. Which Audiences You Want to Reach
Repeat after me: “Content for everyone is actually content for no one”. Breathe. Repeat.
Content can serve many purposes and with that it can often be written for large audiences. In this day of hyper-immediacy, personalization, and targeting, content must be aligned to the audiences that are most important to your business’s success. Content ROI is a hot topic among forward-thinking brands—and for good reason. CMOs want to see return on their investment in content and without understanding what the goal of content is for your business, the return will be pointless.
Identify what your organization’s content goals are and the audiences you want to reach in order to achieve those goals. By understanding the Where with your mapping, this will answer your Who and Why questions. Next, plan to archive—or reposition—content that doesn’t directly align with your target customer segments that lead to your business goals. You can do this with a proper tagging structure…
Step 4: Tag Your Content Based Off Brand Goals and Content Themes
Tagging, or marking up, your content on an offline document is crucial to eliminate content hoarding. Think of it in the metaphor of cleaning up that dirty house. When you first start looking at things, you start to compartmentalize them (kitchen, bedroom, closet). From there, you can add another layer to that filtering (kitchen – silverware, bedroom – pants, closet – jacket). This compartmentalization is essentially ‘tagging’ your stuff so that when you’re ready to begin cleaning, you have an efficient plan of attack.
As a brand, you must do the same with your content. Approaches to this method vary, but I typically like to have a large spreadsheet that disseminates my content by location/platform and then I tag them based off key attributes; content type, targeted persona, objective, topic/category, theme and relevance. These can be identified pretty quickly when looking at content and shouldn’t require you to meticulously review every single piece of content you own.
Step 5: Sniff Out the Gaps and Points of Diminished Returns
Once everything is tagged and mapped, the fun starts to happen. You get to identify a clear landscape of what your content looks like. You might find you have way too many static images and not enough video. Or that your content favors one persona over others. Perhaps you only have content that speaks directly to your business objectives and it comes off too salesy. Or maybe your content is old, dated, and doesn’t resonate with your current target audience.
These are all very real and very common findings when doing a Content Gap Analysis. Putting these into visual presentations for your internal teams or clients can be eye-opening when revealing just how much content you have and how much may (or may not) align with your business plans.
Step 6: PURGED - Publish, Update, Repurpose, Gap-Fill, Expand, Delete
Executing on all of these discovery and strategy steps should be more manageable now that you have assessed what you have, identified what content is valuable to your audience, and determined the content themes that you need to improve through proper tagging. Now it’s time to get to work.
Publish: Perhaps you’ve identified that you’re limited in the targeted content that you need. Get to creating and publishing it!
Update: Content may be old and dated, lacking new data sources or not relevant. Time to update it. Content may not have a consistent tone or message. Time to unite it with an update. Often content works better when it is combined or leveraged as a different type. Convert lengthy press releases or manuals into visual documents if that is what your audience prefers. All it takes is some updating.
Repurpose: Different from updating, repurposing can take many shapes. The most common way to repurpose content is to take typically text-heavy content and make it more visual. Search engines, social networks, and media outlets are all contorting to their audiences’ preferences and that is more visual content.
Take an old blog with good data and make an interactive infographic. Grab an interview with a customer that left you a great review and record it. Make large pieces of content into more snackable, digestible content with executive summaries (if for higher-ups with little time) or fun gifs/memes for the casual user if they prefer it.
Gap-fill: After tagging and going through your content gap analysis, you are sure to find holes in your content library. If these gaps are pertinent to your business goals or target audiences, than it’s time to find ways to fill them. Taking advantage of these opportunities to create targeted content is great grounds for testing if it’s worked effectively.
Execute: When you find content that works to meet your objectives, don’t carbon copy it, expand upon it. Narrow your focus to expand on your impact. This means honing on the very specific needs and behaviors of your target audience—and their subsects—to create more content that is hyper-targeted.
If you have one landing page that drives a lot of leads from your general audience, than consider expanding on them by tightening your messaging from broad to refined for specific users in that audience. Why throw all your silverware in the kitchen drawer when you could segment each piece into their own compartment for easy access?
Delete: One of the hardest tasks for marketers can be to decide if it’s time to delete or “sunset” content. One good way to identify this is to determine whether the content is redundant, out-of-date, or trivial. Some of this can be addressed with an update or repurpose, but ultimately if you deem the content is not useful for any specific user and it makes you truly think on the questions of “what is its purpose?” or “who is going to read this?” than it’s time to delete.
Before you know it, your property will be organized, cleaned up and ready for guests to come enjoy their visit! Remember as a host: the only ‘hot mess’ that guests enjoy come in the form of party-sized fondue or nachos.