Content Marketing is about sharing and educating. It’s about being useful to your audience. As Carlton Hoyt was pointing out on the Content Marketing Institute’s blog: “Stop Thinking Content, Start Thinking Resources”
At Scoop.it, we’ve always been eager to learn. We do that by curating great content from influencers, by deriving our own conclusions from our own experiments and by sharing with the Scoop.it community on this blog and on our social channels to spread the results and collect feedback.
We’ve been doing that for some time now and even though we never had more than one full-time employee in charge of content, we now have a pretty big collection of content published including:
- 7,049 tweets and thousands of posts on our Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ pages.
- 1,419 scoops.
- 491 blog posts (on our blog and a dozen more contributed to other blogs).
- 35 slideshares.
- 5 white papers and ebooks.
While we’re certainly happy with this ramp-up and while this content helps on a daily or weekly basis, it can also look like… a huge, unorganized mess. If you’ve been following us for a while, good for you. But if you’re just discovering us and want to learn about how content curation can help you do this or that or the meaning of lean content marketing, where do you start?
So over time, we’ve been progressively wondering about the following questions:
- How should we structure this wide variety of content so that it’s useful for our audience not just today but over time?
- How do we do that in such a way that is the least time-consuming and the most efficient?
And as we’ve seen many marketers go through the same questions, we felt it would be interesting to share what we learned on this question, what mistakes we made and what successes we had.
Step 1: building our original and curated content hubs
When we launched, we looked at our content being structured around a couple of content hubs:
- Our Scoop.it topic pages ow which we curate and publish third-party content daily to social media: as explained before, using these pages as content hubs (instead of sharing that content directly to social channels) helps us generate more engagement and traffic (in particular from search). Plus it helps convert some of our readers into leads. We typically enrich these posts with a short insight and don’t spend much time beyond what we already do naturally: read content. It’s our daily routine.
- Our blog which we typically used for longer, original content: product news of course but more importantly analysis of our own, data we find interesting to share, strong opinions we have, lessons learned from experiments, etc… This is more like a weekly routine for us.
All of this was great and helped us build significant traffic through social media, search and perhaps more importantly email. But as we started to see our content inventory grow, we realized that both these hubs were structured in a time-based format: fresh content at the top replaces older content on a “last published, first seen basis”.
We had several problems with this:
- Of course, readers can search but how can you search for something that you don’t know exists?
- If you’re new to our website, where do you get started?
Step 2: our first attempt at launching a resource center
Of course, many marketers know that the answer to these questions is to create a resource center. But to do that you need… resources.
Initially, we didn’t have many white papers or ebooks. And, as they’re very time consuming to produce, we didn’t see how we could come out with good ones rapidly.
The mistakes we made were (1) that we thought a resource center needed to have only long form content (2) that we needed a lot of it to justify its existence. We thought useful meant long. It doesn’t. We thought useful meant comprehensive. It doesn’t either.
But because we thought so, we created our first resource center about 10 months ago by bundling many different things:
- Product guides
- How to’s
- Case studies
- … and resources, ie 3 white papers.
The result was not totally bad: we generated some traffic with it and some conversions as well. But the resulting page was very very confusing.
Step 3: improving and focusing our resource center
So we understood our mistakes progressively.
First we understood that good blog content can be a great resource if it’s evergreen. Even better, curated content can be evergreen and can be a great resource. In a time of low attention spans, short can actually be better. So we decided to combine long form and short form content in our resource center as long as it was good and evergreen.
This didn’t cost us anything to produce and it instantly generated some great additional traffic (about 75% over the following 3 months). And as our evergreen posts usually have good conversion rates, it also boosted our lead generation.
The remaining problem we had was that this resource center was heterogenous. Some of that content focused on how to use Scoop.it, some on what our users had to say, some were case studies and some were educational. So we more recently took a different approach:
- We revamped and reorganized our knowledge base to make it a more robust and comprehensive guide to the Scoop.it platform. This is now where you should find all of your answers on how to do such and such a thing with Scoop.it, regardless of the version you have.
- This enabled us to focus our new resource center on just two things: our best evergreen educational content (which can be either our own original content or top curated content) and case studies.
It now looks like this:
Hopefully simple and straightforward, with the best content we could create or curate on content curation and how to make content marketing lean. Not necessarily a lot of content but the best ones.
So far the results are good: we’re now at 2x the traffic we had with our blog and curated pages (which kept growing in the meantime).
Our process: repurposing and structuring content to build our resource center over time… without resources
So here’s how we realized we needed to structure our content processes so we could keep building our resource center without over-investing in it:
- On a daily basis: we discover, read and curate content that we share on social channels and on our curated content hubs.
- On a weekly basis: we create original blog posts. Note that content curation is a great source of inspiration for our blog: either because we publish curated blog posts with a longer insights added to somebody else’s post or because constantly monitoring and curating content helps us identify the gaps in our industry and write on subjects which haven’t been addressed before (or at least not in the way we want).
- On a quarterly basis (hopefully monthly soon): we create eBooks or white papers which often repurpose some of our best curated or created content and bundles them with new content.
Finally, we curate the best of all this content and add it to our resource center.
With the above process, we only spend marginal time building our resource center (over what we’re doing anyway). And it has another merit: because we think that the ultimate goal of our daily content is to possibly contribute to our resource center, we look at it with a different eye and we almost implicitly improve its quality. I would summarize it this way:
Make it the goal of your everyday content to contribute over time to your evergreen resource center.
And I would add: even if you don’t have one (because some day you will).
Bonus: promoting our best evergreen content
There’s a bonus that we discovered by doing this as we found that our top evergreen content was a natural fit for our social media channels. Because it’s our best content, and usually our highest-converting, it makes sense to also redistribute it regularly to our social media channels. We started experimenting with this and found that resharing evergreen content over time (without abusing it) often generated the same rates of engagement as when published for the first time.
Going through the process of building our resource center made us identify our best evergreen content. And manage it proactively instead of letting it stand there on our blog, waiting to be found.
We felt this was so important that we came out with a new feature in Scoop.it Content Director to do just that: manage and distribute evergreen content efficiently. In short, this feature enables you to tag content as evergreen to easily retrieve it when you’re programming social media posts. We’ll write a follow-up post on this but here’s a quick preview of how it looks:
Conclusion: “What we do in life echoes in eternity”
Yes, I love that movie.
But more seriously and as a conclusion, that’s the spirit of the process that we came out with and that I feel can be useful to other marketers: we do small content actions daily that over time builds our longer form content and our evergreen resources. Not only that, but these evergreen resources in turn contribute to feed our social media channels and engage our audience.
So go check out our new resource center: we hope you’ll find useful information there and that you’ll be able to learn actionable things. And if you have suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover, don’t hesitate to tell us in the comments.
Not sure where to start in our resource center? Start with this eBook packed with 30+ effective techniques to master content marketing along with valuable insights from 10+ influencers like Mark Schaefer, Rebecca Lieb, Lee Odden, Jason Miller or Ian Cleary, download our free eBook now!