Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on November 23rd, 2010

Content Strategy 101: The Five Types of Source Content for Your Website

Once you have conducted a content inventory/audit, and performed a content gap analysis, you should know exactly what content you have and what you need to create. The next step is to define where that needed content will come from. The good news is there are five different places you can get your content from to fulfill your content strategy, but this doesn’t mean its a piece of cake. Some editorial oversight is still necessary to ensure that co-created or third-party content is completed and meets all your company’s guidelines, standards, and end-user needs. Let’s take a look at each of the five types of source content and how it pertains to a Content Strategist. #1: Original Content Original content is by far the most valuable content you can have for your website project. But it’s also the most expensive. Most organizations would rather hire a new writer than go after a freelancer, but other companies don’t have a choice. When you take the time to really understand your audience segments, create content that specifically speaks to them, in a voice that is truly your brand’s, and deliver that content on your site in an engaging and creative way, you will create a user experience that will bring them back for more and more business transactions in the future. When creating original content, you will need to gather original source material for research purposes. This can actually begin during the first few phases of a content strategy project, while you analyze what you need to create. It may be necessary to interview industry experts and do your own research in *gasp* a real library!
 #2: Aggregated Content You can aggregate content for your website in two main ways: The first way is through an automated aggregation system that pulls from other websites or sources. You can do this with an RSS feed or you can create search algorithms that pull content for specific keywords or phrases. The risk here is that the content may not have been reviewed before being linked to your site. You can set up certain filters with your RSS feed, but that doesn’t guarantee a rotten egg may slip through the cracks. Based on your keywords and subscription choices, there is a risk that content that is irrelevant or out of context can also get posted for your audience. 
The best way to counter this risk is to appoint a curator. This means selecting a person or team to actively search for content that specifically meets the standards and guidelines of your website. This can offer a tremendous value to your end-users. As Kristina Halvorson of BrainTraffic wisely says: “In a world of information overload, content curation is a valuable service that can be offered by any organization with a point of view, be it product-focused, service-oriented, or other.” Please note: Curation is not the same as ratings and reviews. #3: Co-Created Content Brands and businesses are making very good use of high-profile bloggers, studios, and podcasters who are already creating content in their niches and engaging their target audience. Try reaching out to these influentials and hire them to blog about your products or services, brand identity, either on your website or on another branded online channel. This is slightly risky because you are giving up some control of the message, but you are gaining the bloggers’ audience, unique perspective and voice, and an opportunity to expand your branding to new content types. This can save money and time for everyone involved. #4: Licensed Content If your content requirements run deeper than your resources, you may need to hire a third-party to help create all the content required for the project. Articles, images, videos, and audio are all widely available for licensing purposes online. You may be risking control again, but this content type is very popular for a wide range industries and has proven to be very successful for many brands. Don’t forget, however, that licensed content still requires a certain amount of editorial oversight and guidance as your company’s standards and guidelines must be met. #5: User-Generated Content This is a pretty complicated resource for content, but can be very successful. Inviting users and target audience members to create content for your website and brand is high-risk, high-reward. You can build a user-generated content forum, social media profiles, and user-generated sub-domain sites that allow your audience to take control of the message. This is a great way to find out how people really feel about your product or service, gain feedback on how to improve your organization, and discover what you do well. It also helps produce truck-loads of content. However, this isn’t a Kevin Costner movie, so if you build it, it doesn’t mean “they” will automatically come. Just because it worked for Southwest Airlines or The Gap doesn’t mean it will work for you, so proceed with caution. Once you know where all your content will come from, it is time to build a Content Creation Plan. This plan details: • which content needs to be created • who is responsible for each and every piece • how the source content goes from creation to requirement • where it will be stored and delivered online • and how the content will get completed on time and on budget. Join me for my next Content Strategy blog post in early December when we create our Content Creation Plan. Thank You For Engaging! No one likes people who don’t share, especially Keanu Reeves and his crazy gang of memes. So if you liked what you read, please share my post with any of our socially-labeled buttons, or we’ll sick the whole gang after you! You can also subscribe to our RSS feed as well to receive daily fodder from our blog. Thank you for reading!