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Content Strategy 101: Content Asset Audit

By  Stefan   |   April 12, 2013

Stefan Deeran / Content Sales Director, NewsCred - 

By now, most major brands realize that compelling content is necessary for sustaining their digital channels, from email newsletters and blogs to social media and custom micro sites.

While some brands know exactly what their content needs are, most brands are relatively new to the space and have asked NewsCred for help with their content strategies.  In this post, I’d like to provide a glimpse into NewsCred’s process for creating a content strategy framework for brands.

Auditing Existing Content Assets

As a first step, we work with content managers on an audit that inventories their existing content assets.  This will help content managers understand all the resources they currently have in their arsenal and identify potential gaps in coverage.

Content managers should consider all the types of content that are produced and leveraged across their organization. Assets may include custom YouTube videos, white papers, blog posts, customer guides, licensed news articles and even musings on social media channels.

Content Asset Matrix

After you’ve identified all of your available content, it’s then helpful to organize everything into one giant asset matrix. Below is a sample template NewsCred uses when developing content strategies for our Fortune 500 clients:

 

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 2.56.11 PM

 

Inform to Engage

At one end of the spectrum, there is content that informs your target audience about your brand, industry expertise and products. This type of content may be comprised of high-quality educational videos, white papers, market research and reports from premium news publications. These assets are generally “sticky” and, while more expensive to produce or license, they typically have a longer shelf life. As a result, they tend to be the centerpieces of your content hubs,

At the other end of the spectrum lies content intended to engage your audience on a daily basis. Successful publishers inevitably supplement their informative content with buzz-worthy posts on trending topics. Engaging content, ranging from social media posts on topical events to licensed news articles, keeps audiences coming back time and again.

Owned to Licensed

This leads us to another essential dimension in your content inventory: content produced in-house and content that is licensed from third-party publishers or partners in your network. While we encourage clients to develop content that’s written in their own voice, it’s impossible to produce original high-quality content at scale without breaking the bank. Furthermore, digital audiences are savvy and seek content from credible sources and media brands that they trust.

Third-party content could be licensed journalism from a platform like NewsCred or guest blog posts from your customers.  This content allows you to scale your content campaigns and more importantly, it creates balance (you’ll turn off your audience if you only talk about your brand!), credibility and it will make your site more dynamic.

Audience-Centric Content

Content marketing is ultimately about putting your audience first by providing content that they actually want to read and share.  As a next step, it’s key to map your assets against your audience needs. During this process you may find there are areas where you need more relevant content. For example, you might find that you need witty, engaging content to reach a key consumer segment or demographic.

You may also find that, even though it seems you have plenty of content assets, they may not be the types that perform well with your audience base. For example, many B2C brands are referencing aggregated news articles on their social channels. However, because they don’t have the license to publish the full-text article on their sites, they inevitably send readers off of the page and to an entirely new website altogether (see my colleague Molly Siems' post on the potential liabilities of using unlicensed content). And many B2B brands have called up NewsCred in the last few months because they need quality content for their newsletters and their in-house content just isn’t hitting their click-thru and engagement goals.

I’d be interested to hear how others in the content marketing field tackle this issue. Feel free to leave comments below or shoot me an email at stefan@newscred.com.

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