Content Marketing

The Content Lifecycle of a Perfect Post

Considering the demand for quality content, all digital marketers need to have an idea of how the content lifecycle works in order to master it. To create successful content, we need a high-level view of what a great piece of content ideally looks like through its various stages. In this post, Paul Bliss, Web Presence Manager at EDMC, follows the content lifecycle of an imaginary post from ideation to promotion. He also tackles the question of the end of the content lifecycle: when do you take a post offline, if ever?

Stage 1: Validate Your Idea through Search

The perfect post starts with an idea that’s unique and useful. It’s something that no one else has created in your industry yet. It’s something that readers will enjoy.

We start with keyword research, checking to make sure that there’s interest in the topic. Bam! Look at that! Over five hundred searches directly related to the idea. If you research the popularity of the terms early in the content lifecycle, you’ll know you’ve got some legs to stand on.

Next step in the content lifecycle is to see if your idea is original. Do a quick search on Google to see if anyone else has done it before. Check the first three pages of results. Ideally, you don’t see anything too similar.  That’s the perfect scenario – you will be the first to thoughtfully answer a question that many have been asking, but couldn’t find until now.

If you research the popularity of the terms early in the content lifecycle, you’ll know you’ve got some legs to stand on.

Stage 2: Optimize Your Post for Internal & External Audiences

At this point, we move onto the actual content creation part of the content lifecycle. Plenty has been said about creating great content, so we’ll just summarize. Consider best UX practices for content as you format your post to make sure it’s discoverable and digestible. Make sure it’s straightforward, since no one has time to read unnecessary details unless you are providing some industry secret. Of course, optimize your content with best SEO practices.

When you have your rough draft in hand, email it to the compliance experts (or another authoritative person who can give you a second opinion) in your company. And you wait. And wait some more.

Then you get the email. Approved! Amazing, it never happens this easily, right?

Stage 3: Pick the Perfect Content Placement 

Next step is to decide where to show off your content. Company blog or resource center? Should you send it to an influential industry rag? How will you leverage your social assets? So many choices, and the one you pick will have an impact on the success of your idea.

You know that an industry site would have a bigger impact, but you want to demonstrate your expertise on the topic. So, you decide to publish from your company blog. Great! No waiting for a reply from the editorial staff or having to make any changes to get your content splattered onto the web.

Stage 4: Push Your Content Live

Looking over your stats, you know that Thursday mornings are the best day to post. An announcement in the weekly newsletter about it will get you some more traffic too. Wins all around.

You schedule your post for early Thursday morning so that when you get into the office, you can unleash the social blast on your networks and have time to listen and reply.

Stage 5: Gettin’ Social with It

After you publish your post, there are a few bits of initial activity. Some mentions on Twitter, even some retweets and shares. Then, some likes and shares on Facebook pop up. Someone on Google plus actually “plusses” your stuff. It picks up a bunch of momentum when an industry rock star mentions your post. Now it’s officially going to be read by the players in your industry.

Comments, insults, media requests, meetings, and other messages come in. People you’ve never heard of before are all reaching out to you for some feedback.

You spend hours replying to everyone and make sure to answer any questions or comments that appear on the sites you are monitoring. Next thing you know, the Google machine is ranking your content for those 500 searches per month, and you are getting a bulk of the traffic.

Stage 6: Respond to Praise & Scrutiny

This goes on for a few days. The next week or so, many other stories have popped up and replaced yours as the media darling of the day. All of the social activity is dying down in regards to your post. Yes, you now have a bigger audience, and they want more. You’ve got their attention, and now you need to be consistent from this point forward.

You even see other posts that reference your content (yes, more links!) and every so often, you see new links appearing for that post.

Stage 7: Measure and Understand Your Content in Context

All the while, you’re measuring your content and thinking about the big picture of your content strategy. You measure this post against other posts (or, ideally, compare organized content segments). By measuring your content, you’re about to continually make all of your content more discoverable and better performing.

By measuring your content, you’re about to continually make all of your content more discoverable and better performing.

Stage 8: Know when the Content Lifecycle Is Over 

Now that you’re looking at your content as a whole, what do you do about old content? You know, the one you wrote almost two years ago now? Is it time to retire that content? No way, think of all the links earned!

But now it’s five years later and no new links are coming in, and you only get a trickle of traffic for that post now.

Time to kill it? Refresh that post? Maybe do a 301 to another more relevant topic? Perhaps convert the page into a PDF and upload it to Slideshare?

If your topic is no longer relevant and has no way of providing any value to your audience, that’s when you pull the plug.

If your topic has aged and needs a botox injection to make it attractive again, then be sure to take the time to do it right. Indicate to the readers where the updated content now resides and clearly label the difference between the original content and the new items.

It’s time to force a 301 if there is a better and more on topic piece of content that exists on your site. You’ll take all that link juice and pass it along to your better written content, and that’s a better experience for everyone.

Finally, if you really want to preserve your post, then think about making a PDF version of the content and publish it on content sharing sites. That way, you can show your grandkids one day on how smart you were.

If your topic is no longer relevant and has no way of providing any value to your audience, that’s when you pull the plug.

This Is The End Beautiful Friend

In today’s world where it’s hard to stand out on a consistent basis, the posts that come along that perform like this need the proper attention to get the most out of them. Otherwise, you’re just adding to the problem of content pollution.

 

Learn more about how to measure your content by reading: 3 Common Content Strategy Problems and the Conductor Solution: Content Insights.