create content library

Content Library: Create One and Manage It

In an accelerating world, the things you know today can be untrue tomorrow. Thanks to global connectivity and technological advances, change happens faster than ever before. In addition to publishing content, you need to organize content and update it frequently. That’s why having a content library is critical to your content marketing strategy.

If you haven’t created a content library yet, the first part of this post will teach you how to do it. If you already have a documented content library, use it as the hub for setting your maintenance schedule. Maintaining your professional reputation, particularly if you work in a highly regulated industry, requires revisiting old content to make sure it’s still accurate.

Create Your Content Library

Ruth Stevens, marketing professor at the Columbia University School of Business and blogger for Harvard Business Review, gave a terrific workshop at CMWorld 2014 explaining how to build a content library. One of her insights is that documenting a content library is a great job for an intern – if you have one.

1. Make a Spreadsheet

Start by building a spreadsheet with the following column headings:

  • Title
  • Author(s)
  • URL or filename
  • Keyword phrases, if applicable
  • Format
  • Date of publication
  • Date of last edit (might be unknown at first – that’s okay)
  • Target industry
  • Target market segment
  • Target persona or job title
  • Sales funnel buying stage (general awareness, problem-solving, comparison to other products, post-purchase, subsequent purchase)
  • Distribution channels (i.e., was it distributed via blog post, email, social media, or other channels)
  • Success rate (track its effectiveness at meeting your marketing goals)
  • Issues to watch (make notes of potential issues that could require updating)

2. Find Your Content Assets

You’ll find content both in the places you know and in places you’ve long forgotten.

  • Blog posts. Visit your WordPress dashboard and click Posts > All Posts. If you don’t use WordPress, your CMS will have a similar location that just lists your posts. Catalog each one.
  • Desktop files and cloud storage. Assemble PDF files and other types of content assets, whether they were originally intended or content marketing or not. You might need to reach out to writers and graphic designers for assistance.
  • Public video channels and corporate intranet. List videos on your business YouTube or Vimeo channel. If you have corporate intranet, note videos that could be shared as part of your content marketing strategy. Just make that sharing them wouldn’t violate employee privacy, reveal an undisclosed business strategy, or reveal intellectual property.
  • Removable storage. Check USB drives and old CD-roms for documents.
  • Earned media. Look for stories in newspapers, on television, or in online publications about your business. Stick to cataloguing recent stories unless you find an outstanding piece of older content.
    Executive publications. Note guest posts or articles written by executives, or check their LinkedIn profiles for published links. Make sure to get permission before sharing their materials through your content distribution channels.
  • 3. Prioritize Items Based on How Often You Need to Update Them

    Add a final column to your spreadsheet with the heading “Priority.” In this column, rate each piece of content according to how often you think it will need to be updated.

  • 1 for something that needs immediate review
  • 2 for items needing monthly review
  • 3 for items needing quarterly review
  • 4 for items needing annual review
  • 5 for items needing no review (pure evergreen content)
  • 4. Add Maintenance to Your Editorial Calendar

    Select an owner for the task of content maintenance, such as a copyeditor or content coordinator. This person owns the content library spreadsheet and sets a monthly maintenance schedule.

    During maintenance, the person assigned should pay close attention to the following:

  • Regulatory and legal information. A blog post or PDF designed to explain how a law applies to someone becomes inaccurate when a law changes. If you work in finance, accounting, insurance, healthcare, law, or other highly regulated industries, do regular checks to make sure your content contains correct information. Also, verify that the names of laws or rules are accurate.
  • Statistics. Make sure your content contains the most up-to-date statistics. Also, make sure the statistics mean what the content says they mean.
  • Links. Check links to make sure they go to an existing page. If they’re broken, link to a new page or asset.
  • Dates. When you update one section of the piece, make sure all relevant dates throughout the article are updated.
  • Job titles. Check the article body and bios to ensure you have the latest job titles and company information.
  • Contact information. Verify phone numbers, email addresses, and social profile URLs for accuracy.
  • Procedures. If you’ve changed a procedure or added a capability (e.g., customers can now contact you through both phone and Web chat), update your processes.
  • Current style guidelines. Edit the article to meet your current style guidelines. Check not only the text but also branding and design elements.
  • Additionally, verify whether content created in the past meets your current quality standards. If it doesn’t, consider asking someone to rewrite it.

    When Content Needs Significant Changes

    It’s tempting to look at an old piece of content, decide that it’s garbage, and delete the URL. Please don’t. If you do, you’ll create broken links on all internal and external pages that link to the content.

    Instead, redirect the link to a new or existing piece of content. You can use a WordPress plugin like Page Links To or implement a 301 redirect. Meta refresh redirects are easy as far as HTML, but 301 redirects are essential if you don’t want to lose the search ranking benefits of the original page.

    Also, when you make big changes to a piece of content, make sure you don’t wipe out the keywords for which the page currently ranks. Review the keywords column in your content library spreadsheet, or use common sense to identify the target keywords. Avoid changing these phrases without talking to someone who works in SEO.

    Conclusion

    Great content doesn’t always stay great forever. Preserve your professional reputation and give customers accurate information by regularly maintaining your content.

    Image by Roman Drits

    Posted in Content Marketing, Editing and Proofreading.