Managing Content in a Digital Age Content Planning and Writing

Content used to be king in the corporate world, which was good news for shareholders of entertainment, media, and publishing outfits, such as Time Warner (TWX), Walt Disney (DIS), Viacom (VIAB), News Corp. (NWS), Sony (SNE), Gannett (GCI), and The New York Times Company (NYT). But the rapid rise of the Internet since the mid-1990s, the rollout of affordable smartphones, notebook PCs, and handheld media players, and vast improvements in broadband digit technologies — all of which have made it possible for consumers to enjoy films, television shows, newspapers, and music on the Web at little or no cost — are now putting pressure on content creators around the globe. Consequently, these firms must quickly transition to new business models, or else see the value of their properties decline and their bottom lines erode.

Finding the right business model has proven to be a tall order for most media companies, however. Indeed, the needed paradigm shift has been (dangerously) slow in coming. Television and film studios are still struggling to protect their profits at a time when piracy is rampant, many programs and movies can be downloaded for free on the Internet, and DVDs can be rented inexpensively from Netflix (NFLX) or Coinstar’s (CSTR) Redbox-branded kiosks. The music industry is having little success offsetting declining CD sales with Web-based revenues (e.g., Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes), or at combating illegal digital downloads and file-sharing. And newspapers, the vast majority of which maintain free Internet sites that complement their print products, are seeing advertising sales plummet and their valuable subscription bases dwindle.

6 Steps to Successful Content Management in the Digital Age

  1. Plan your strategy. Content management is not just an IT function. It involves the entire enterprise, so meet with all stakeholders to determine precisely what they need from a CMS, and what they can contribute to the initiative. Develop a strategy to manage analytics to ensure you reap the maximum benefits. Another crucial, but often overlooked, strategy you should plan is your metadata strategy to make sure that your customers can easily find your content. Taking the time to plan your strategy will shorten the time it takes for you to launch your CMS, begin receiving a return from it, and make post launch corrections.
  2. Decide how you are going to manage your content. Who will bear the burden for publishing content? Will authors be allowed to upload content without additional approval? If approvals are required, who has the authorization to sign off on new content? If authors are permitted to upload new content, who will proof, edit or review it to make sure it complies with company goals and policies? How will you determine content that can be repurposed versus content that just needs to be deleted or archived? What will be the criteria for deleting content rather than archiving it? 
  3. Collect and consolidate your content. Content consists of more than just your service manuals or company history. It includes your videos, graphics, sound bites, data, photos, as well as the metadata associated with each. Your goal is to make sure that all content can be accessed through a seamless, single system. Therefore, you need to make sure that necessary data does not exist in siloes or massive files that contain primarily superfluous data. Create an inventory of all your content to make it easier to manage. 
  4. Make it easy for users to find your content. As already discussed, metadata can help with this. However, you can also use advanced search options, such as allowing synonyms or correcting spellings, to help ensure that users find precisely what they want in the shortest time possible.
  5. Use responsive design. It is impossible to predict the type of device that may be used to access your content. When you use responsive design, the display of your content will automatically adjust to provide the best viewing experience possible for the type of device. It is important to remember that responsive design is far more than just shrinking the size of the display. It involves determinations about how many images (if any) should be displayed on a particular device, where the navigation controls will be located, and much more. Without responsive design, users may become frustrated when they encounter content with display that is difficult to read or navigate through.
  6. Use effective research to help you determine the effectiveness of your content. Whether you base your research on analytics, customer personas, or another basis, you need to know who is accessing your content and from what type of device to determine whether you are reaching the people you need to reach.

Five steps to get started CONTENT

  1. Define your goals

A content marketing plan works best if it clearly links back to the business goals you’ve defined for your website and other online channels. Your existing marketing plan is a great place to start, so use it to:

  • Write down the messages you want to convey to your audience
  • Build a strategy
  • Develop a schedule and stick to it – be specific and realistic about your scheduling.
  1. Know your audience

Find out where your audience ‘hangs out’ online – are there industry forums, online communities or other websites that are doing really well in your space?

Reading forum posts, comments and social media chatter will also keep your finger on the pulse of what your audience wants to read about – and how they speak. It’s important your content isn’t a one-way stream, so take the time to tune-in to what your customers and competitors are saying, and use that information to shape your messages.

  1. Research your content – be discoverable

Search keywords, fresh content and trend awareness will help people discover your content. Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on your website and other online content so you’re getting the best ranking that you can in search results – making it more likely that your content will be discovered and read. Discoverability should also be about promoting your content.

There are many free and low-cost tools that will schedule Tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn status updates to go out once you’ve completed a website update or blog post. Find other websites or people who would find your content useful and share it with them.

  1. Tell a story and update regularly

You’ll retain more loyal readers with regular monthly articles rather than spoiling them with daily posts for the first week – and then disappointing with a few weeks of silence.

  1. Measure your results and stay on track

Tracking and analytics should be part of your plan, with results regularly gathered and reported on. These insights can help a business redirect its campaign when certain elements aren’t working, ensuring success and boosting return on investment (ROI).

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