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The New Content Life Cycle: 4 Steps to a More Strategic Approach to Web Content

strategic approach to web content, CMIEvery day we are flooded with information about the latest and greatest social and mobile platforms where people hold conversations, voice opinions, or influence others. Whether it’s Instagram, Google+, Path, or Pinterest, people are flocking to these new social networks.

But companies are now left trying to make sense of which ones they should be paying attention to, what they need to be doing in these channels to gain a competitive advantage, and how it all ties into their overall content marketing strategy. 

On today’s rapidly shifting web, it’s essential that companies start to take a more holistic approach to content marketing and connect more effectively with their various stakeholders across a number of web and social channels. This “pressure to extend” has created a new strategic online content life cycle that is imperative when competing on today’s unpredictable social web — especially in light of recent changes in Google search algorithms and how they might affect established SEO strategies.

The new content life cycle

In a business climate that’s moving at “web speed,” new technologies, media channels, platforms, and social networks continue to pop up and present new challenges for businesses. These demands require a renewed focus on holistic content models, and strategies that scale and optimize the right content to the right channels while measuring its impact.

This necessitates a shift from the old, linear “Create, Approve, Publish” model of moving content to just the corporate site. Marketers and content owners now require a model that extends in either direction.

The new content life cycle is, in fact, a virtuous circle:

  • The process, conceivably, starts with planning, before moving into the management phase of content creation.
  • From there, content still needs to be created, approved, and published, of course, but our jobs do not end there.
  • Once published, the value of that content needs to be measured and (based on that measurement) further optimized.
  • Of course, the strategy will likely need to be adjusted based on the relative success (or failure) of that content against its original goal, before being fed back into the planning process for the next wave of content.

Once a plan like this is put in place, there is no longer a beginning or an end to the content life cycle. Of course, a particular piece of content has to start somewhere, but the overall content strategy needs to be constantly in motion.

Although the corporate website remains critical for establishing a strong, recognizable brand, as we move forward, the process of creating meaningful and engaging conversations across the social channels where your constituents are interacting has a growing impact on whether or not you will achieve your business goals.

Content strategy in action

Lancaster Bible College (LBC) is an example of an organization that is thinking about its content strategy in ways that will increase business results. When you consider the staggering number of colleges and universities on the web, recruiting efforts can be challenging for a small, faith-based college in Lancaster, Pa. To remain competitive and ensure that prospective students are attracted to the school, it’s crucial for LBC’s marketing team to have control over the delivery of fresh, timely, and interactive content that they can push through the content life cycle and make accessible across various web channels.

LBC’s old web content system had many limitations that prevented the school from powering content quickly to its site and building a presence in the social channels populated with prospective students. LBC needed to revamp its content life cycle and empower content owners to react nimbly to the rapid changes of the web. By empowering the marketing arm of the organization with new web content management technology that removed the historical content bottlenecks, LBC’s marketing department and administrators can now create new content and publish it instantaneously without IT involvement.

LBC has extended its content ownership to more people at the school, enabling them to stay timely and competitive, while removing its reliance on limited IT specialists and/or outside consulting services to publish and make changes to the site.

LBC is capitalizing on this new strategic approach to marketing on the web by streamlining many of the costly and time consuming phases of the content life cycle, and focusing on what matters most — creating meaningful and relevant content to broaden its online reach, enrich social engagement, and improve business results.

Four content imperatives for the new content reality

As we awaken to the new realities of content, here are four ways to rethink your content execution, and take advantage of the new content life cycle.

  1. Structure your content marketing strategy as a holistic system that allows you to connect more effectively with various stakeholders across a number of social channels, drive conversation, and influence customers.
  1. Open up content contribution to more users across the organization, providing more opportunities to connect with and engage customers in social channels, and extend your online reach. Be sure to remove any technology or process roadblocks that inhibit the expansion of your contributor pool — the more people who are able to contribute easily, the more content you will have to push across your channels.
  1. Deliver fresh, compelling and timely content that engages users and keeps visitors returning to your site, and then be sure to extend that content into your social channels. It’s no longer required to use your corporate sites as the centralized point of engagement; push your content out to the edge of the network and transform your website so that it serves as another node on that network.
  1. Be sure you are listening to the online conversations of your target audience, and optimize your content and content strategy based on the insights you gather from them. Set goals for expected outcomes with your content, just as you would with a traditional marketing campaign, and track and measure the results fervently. To complete the cycle, constantly test new ideas, and dump what doesn’t work while further optimizing what is working.

If your organization is still questioning whether you should be doing more on the social web, it’s time to step back and look at your content life cycle through this new strategic lens. As more companies start to adopt a more holistic approach to their content marketing strategies — by ensuring delivery of rich and engaging content on both their site and to social channels — they will drive results, and be better equipped to handle whatever comes next on the web.

Taking even one of these four simple steps outlined above will better position your content and instantly make your content strategy more valuable. But don’t wait to get started! The faster you get rolling, the faster you will start to see results.

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