Strategic content management
In the past year, Jeffrey Veen has spent a lot of time explaining that content management is a process, not a technology. This is an important point to make and reiterate, mostly because it still has not caught on (amazingly). Organizations are still wasting big money and time on building, buying, configuring, learning and attempting to use complicated content management technology.
A recent interview with Veen offers an important point: most organizations don’t need to buy a content management system — they need to develop an internal process for managing content. And they need a strategy for developing content that will meet their goals.
If done right, strategic content management can be an organization’s most powerful method of developing and reinforcing a brand. Unfortunately, many people have only a visual conception of branding — but content is king (that’s a cliché worth using) and it needs to be developed and delivered in accordance with a smart web strategy.
This strategy must acknowledge that some things — community, open feedback structures, timely content — work better on the web than others. And so it goes with content as well. Every organization has different content needs (based on different goals), but most can benefit from following the same advice. Here are some ideas about content strategy that embraces the web instead of fighting it:
Organizations that communicate honestly and directly will win favor with customers and supporters over organizations that are deceitful and secretive. Example: Google vs. Microsoft
Accepting feedback from your audience — and then responding — creates a uniquely strong relationship that traditional PR and advertising cannot do. Examples: Brent Simmons (Ranchero Software), Six Apart
Make content as accessible as possible. You want people engaging with your content, so don’t make it hard on them. Don’t try to ban deep linking, don’t make people register to read (unless your business model is to charge for content), and don’t smother your content with annoying ads and a complicated design. And on the positive: do offer your content in RSS or Atom, do accept trackbacks (help bloggers help you), and do build accessible, standards-compliant pages so no one is left out. Examples: Hmm… lots of great weblogs. Who else?
Organizations are often tempted to engage in massive development projects and software installations because it seems to make financial sense — you pay a bunch of money, and you get something. They are right to be focusing on content, but they should be managing it with people, not technology. In the long run, good strategy tied with good content will benefit an organization in ways that software cannot.