What’s a sustainable content strategy and why do you need one?
If your organisation is like most organisations, content forms the backbone of almost everything you do. At some point, you’ve probably picked up the idea that the more content you publish, the better from marketing calendars to think pieces and whitepapers. But what if this trigger-happy approach is doing more harm than good?
Sustainable content strategy is a different way of thinking about what you publish. Instead of focussing on output — how much you can get published each month — it looks at outcomes. Where traditional metrics focus on consumption, for example, clicks, shares, retweets, a sustainable content strategy focuses on the utility of that content: does it support a customer to achieve a goal as quickly and easily as possible? It might be trickier to judge, but then nothing worthwhile was ever easy.
Another key aspect of a sustainable content strategy is circular content. This means moving away from the publish-once-leave-online-forever model and heading towards a process of constant nurturing and tweaking. This means continually assessing your live content to ensure that it’s fulfilling its purpose, helping your customers, and is easy to find. If a page on your website has had minimal traffic for the past six months, it’s time to take it down because it’s become an unnecessary piece of clutter that’s making the useful information more difficult to find.
Here’s why you should consider a sustainable content strategy in your organisation:
1. It’s what your customers (or service users) want more than anything else
Customers simply want to find the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Nothing more, nothing less. We’ve all known this for a long time (see Steve Krug’s seminal Don’t Make Me Think) but this can sometimes get lost in the noise of organisational objectives and flashy banners. If you keep your website laser-focused on meeting your customers’ needs — and get rid of everything else — then it will be much quicker. And you’ll be well on your way to a more energy-efficient digital presence.
2. It’s better for you and everyone you work with
How much time do you spend developing content you know nobody is interested in? Does it leave you feeling fulfilled? Or if you delegate the task to an employee, do you think it leaves them feeling proud of their work? Because I’m not sure that churning out articles for the SEO-bots makes anyone feel good.
We all need a sense of purpose — and by making your digital presence more sustainable, businesses can help make the world a better place. The upshot is that this sense of purpose will make your workplace happier and more fulfilling because people feel more engaged when they’re doing something that feels worthwhile, meaningful and resonates with their values.
3. It’s the right thing to do
All that content you’re creating is data. We might save that data to ‘the cloud’ but that means storing it in vast data centres, running on lots and lots of electricity. This isn’t great when you consider that around 90% of digital content isn’t accessed again after it’s existed for three months.
So we can talk about ROI and creating a business case until we’re all six inches under melted glacial water. Or you could add up all the costs you can save by reducing and reusing your content. But that doesn’t really matter. Because collectively reducing our environmental impact is the single most essential thing that we can all do — and minimising our digital activity is a really important place to start making changes.