“What’s your content ethos?”
It’s something that I ask other content professionals from time to time, and often the response is along the lines of “To make great content.” That’s not an ethos, it’s a job requirement.
The idea that, as content marketers, all we need to do is create great content is flawed. At this stage, everyone’s creating great content (well, nearly everyone). Not everyone’s getting a return on their investment. As a species, us content marketers don’t always like to think about the nitty gritty of ROI, but from a business point-of-view content is an asset which depreciates in value quickly.
It’s also something which I think we’re all aware of on some level. You work for a week on an article, that’s research, image sourcing, client sign off, sending it off to a few “Yeah could be interesting, DM me” types, and actual content creation. Does it work? Maybe – it’s a shot in the dark. Maybe it pays off. Back slapping ensues.
But what if it doesn’t work? Then you’ll ask the dreaded – “Now what do we do with it?”
Inevitably someone will chime up and say something like “Well maybe it’d work better as an infographic?” You all nod your heads. This is great content! If only you could make everyone else see that! So the content gets rewritten, cut down but still mostly legible, it goes to design, it goes for sign off, and you republish. And it works!
You’ve spent twice as long, consumed twice as many resources, for the same win. Now this is fair enough if all content you put out there has incredible brand engagement or lead generation. But if you’re trying to convince us (and yourself) that your 11th place ranking is a success? Well…
This is fundamentally the wrong model for content creation. Without knowing it, your content ethos is “I handcraft”, or “I spend time creating good content, and sometimes it works.”
There’s nothing innately wrong with this, but we live in a content saturation world. To hit your audience, you need to be there at the right time in the right format or you’ll miss them.
This doesn’t work with hand-crafting. Hand-craft for channel one, then channel two, then channel three – it’s unsustainable. If even one of these underperforms your work and man-hours already invested means that your return drops.
Now of course, it still means something to be first in the conversation. But you aren’t always going to be first. For your content to be sustainable in a content saturation world, you need to be everywhere in every conversation.
Your content ethos needs to be automation.
The content revolution
Automation. So it’s time to hang up the keyboards and let our Go-playing robot overlords take over? Well, not yet.
Automation is about using a structured assembly process, and changing how you view content and content strategy.
You’re not publishing content and hoping for lightning to strike, you’re creating an approach that lets you put content everywhere. So that no matter where they are, your prospect, your audience, whoever – they’ll see you.
And you do it in a way that keeps your workload minimised.
For a simple equation, you’re using as few man hours as possible on content creation for the maximum amount of leads, clicks, visibility possible.
This is all very in the clouds, so have an example:-
– You create a whitepaper
– Each section can be pulled as a long-tail keyword targeted blog
– Each chapter intro makes a slide for SlideShare
– Quotes are used for building links in key topic sensitive publications
– You make a podcast
– That podcast is dictated into a long-form article
– Key portions are used as mini videos for Twitter-
– Article sub-headers are used as comment starters on Facebook
In both examples you were aware from the moment you got to work that you would be publishing several formats of content. You structured your content intelligently, so moving from format to format is seamless.
And 90% of the work is done at the start. This contrasts with the hand-crafting, where you’re restarting with every platform.
You create format agnostic content which can be extracted and re-assembled wherever your audience is.
Creativity vs scalability
The Industrial Revolution didn’t happen because we hated home-made goods, we found a means of production that maximised ROI and let us address scalability. By taking the assembly approach you can do the same with your content.
Every company, regardless of size, struggles with scale.
And corner cutting isn’t the answer. Automation is. A streamlined process which allows content to be published on several channels, with minimal effort, maximising output.
So that’s it then? Will our titles change to content burger flipper? Is industrial ‘manufactured’ content the end?
Even mentioning automation has people picturing the assembly line. And the death of originality. Automation isn’t McDonalds though, it’s Lego. Your content modules are bricks, which can be shaped and re-shaped into endless creative formats.
Ironically, structuring your content allows freedom. Rather than being stuck rewriting the same content for different channels, an automated strategic approach cuts down on that time and lets you do what we all want to be doing: creating killer content.
So there you have it, automation does not mean re-creating content for every channel and for every usage. Instead it means playing with Lego and structuring your content to fit formats seamlessly. And your boss might just like that you’ve turned content into an actual sustainable asset.
Not so scary now, is it?
Of course when the real content automation comes around we’re all out of a job…