This is a story of content reuse in action. At the Content Marketing Institute, we collect content marketing examples to share with our audience. We used to collect content marketing examples on an ad-hoc basis, but have recently started collecting Benin Phone Number them in a systematic way that lends itself to reuse – and saving time for our team.
Maybe you can figure out how we did things?
Someone would see a good example and email me – or someone else from the editorial team. “Great example,” I would reply, and if I felt organized, I would store this example in my personal email folder. I don’t know what the others did, because I never bothered to ask.
Or, one of our blog posts would have a great example, and I think, “We should include it in a roundup” (a future post pointing our readers to our favorite examples).
Not so scalable or efficient, right?
Things got a bit better when we started collecting all the examples in a Google Spreadsheet, but everyone was recording different types of information and doing so inconsistently. This first spreadsheet was a good starting point, as we all had access to a single source of content, but lacked standards on what to record and how. It took work to prepare the examples to share.
For example, every Wednesday, our community manager, Mo, would email me and ask, “Do you have an example ready for this week’s Facebook post?” (We post an example a week.) I would go to the spreadsheet, search through the ideas, and format something it used. It might not seem like a big deal, but week in and week out we spent time emailing each other, and I spent time looking for an example and then preparing it.
I knew there had to be a better approach. Enter smart content.
A smarter way to organize content
I started learning smart content concepts in late 2014. Although I’m far from an expert, there was a lot in the concepts that made sense to me. I decided to use these concepts – especially the core concept of designing content for reuse – to make sense of the content marketing examples we collect.
As with any business process, we had to start at the end. I knew we needed a better way to have examples ready for our weekly Facebook post and at the same time wanted to update our content marketing examples eBook. I also have other ideas on how we could reuse this content once it’s curated.
Knowing our goals helped me decide what types of information to collect about each content marketing example in our Google Spreadsheet. I started recording these things every time:
- Effort: a description of the content marketing example
- Company: The brand leading this effort
- Content type: video, e-book, podcast, etc. (We have a standard list of content types – we call them tactics – that we use to rank examples. As we often like to create editorial content based on our annual research, we use the same content types here as we include here. For example, this data will make it much easier for us to update the content marketing guide.)
- Why We Like It: The reason the bidder wants to add this example
- CMI Source: A link to the relevant CMI blog post or note identifying the CMI person who submitted this example
- Industry: The relevant industry (chosen from our standard list)
- Person to quote: the person who wrote about this or provided this example
- Direct link for an image: where we go to get an image when we share the example
An excerpt from the spreadsheet CMI uses to track content marketing examples that may make good candidates for reuse across all of our channels and deliverables
How we manage the spreadsheet
We have tried to manage this spreadsheet in several ways. What has worked best for us is that Jodi Harris, our Curatorial Director, “owns” this list. Although many of us can add examples, Jodi is the person who reviews everything to make sure it’s right for you. (Or, better yet, I can email Jodi an idea, and she’ll add it.) Plus, she reviews and edits all the examples to make them appear consistent and accurate.
I don’t want to stress this too much, but the only technology we use is Google Spreadsheets. It is neither sophisticated nor technical. It’s not automated. All of our reuse requires manual copying and pasting. Each instance of reuse involves some tweaking. Still, it’s a great place to start preparing ourselves for more consistent reuse.
How we reuse our content
Now that our content marketing examples are organized and localized in one source, we can use them much more easily. Although we’re in its infancy, we’ve used these content marketing examples to create the eBook we just launched: 75 Examples to Boost Your Content Marketing Creativity . Here you can see how the Airbnb row in our spreadsheet translated into a page in the e-book.
The Airbnb information captured in our spreadsheet turned into this in our eBook.
Here’s the same Airbnb example of the spreadsheet as it translated into one of our weekly Facebook posts.
The Airbnb information captured in our spreadsheet turned into this in our Facebook post.
A few notes on this approach:
- The Airbnb example (above) was something we posted on Facebook a few months ago. While we reuse some of the examples across multiple channels, not all examples are used everywhere.
- There are times when the text used on Facebook is different from what’s in the eBook – and that’s fine for our purposes. Of course, if you’re using smart content to keep things consistent, you’ll have to handle things differently.
- As you can also see, not all of the information in our spreadsheet is used every time. Here, Mo marks the specific person who provided the example while omitting other details.
Another advantage: fewer emails
In addition to allowing us to create content faster, this way of storing our content marketing examples has reduced emails. Gone are the days of Mo emailing me for something to post. Once an example has been approved for use, it’s marked “Ready for Facebook,” right in the spreadsheet, so Mo can enter the example of their choice. Then, after posting an example, Mo saves the date. This data is useful for the whole team. For example, it only took me 60 seconds to request the Facebook screenshot because Mo had saved that post date.
Of course, this is just the beginning of how we can use – and endlessly reuse – our content marketing examples. We have many other ideas.
And that’s just a simple manual reuse. We are talking about a few people who copy and paste. Think of the power of a reuse strategy becoming more powerful as you scale reuse to a larger group and automate that reuse. But no one starts there. Your smart content journey should start where you are.
Chances are you have a type of content that you can use for editorial purposes that would benefit from a systematic approach and reuse strategy. I hope this story inspires you to think about your own ways to organize content into chunks for reuse.