Coping with all the content you need to create?
As consumers spread their attention across more and more channels and screen types, content producers are struggling to keep up. Some respond by topping up their content creation capabilities, others try to optimize them. One of the most interesting, technology-backed optimization approaches is called Cope (“Create once, publish everywhere”). However, before you introduce a new content philosophy to your business, a few basic but important changes need to be considered.
Today businesses typically communicate over a large variety of different platforms ranging from web and mobile sites, blogposts and social media platforms to apps, videos, slide presentations and webinars, newsletters and whitepapers, not to forget the intranet and print. For content creators, these platforms and their audiences are so diverse that handcrafting content for each and every channel or output type is simply not possible. However, in a multi-channel world, the ability to deliver the right content to the right audience has never been more important.
Churning out more and more content for more and more channels cannot be the answer as the discussion around “content shock” has shown. Content creation and delivery need to be optimized. Consequently, businesses and brands have started to adopt multi-channel content strategies in an effort to better coordinate their communication activities across channels. Technology has followed suit. Content management solutions currently available on the market mostly allow multi-channel publishing. Some of these call themselves content hubs – digital platforms that act as funnels: they aggregate content from different channels onto one platform, mix content pieces together and recombine them according to differing sets of criteria, including output type.
However, rethinking the systems behind the sites is usually not enough. Multi-channel publishing also requires adapted content processes and workflow if it is to save writers’ resources. For example they can create content that can be reused in different channels or broken down into smaller pieces and structured according to organizational patterns. As a result, they can then be delivered dynamically based on a smart matching process (e.g. geotargeting). If there is a well-structured base of content to work from, content assembly and delivery can be automatized, making the creation of a tailored experience not only easy but also easy on your budget.
One of the terms used to describe this new type of content strategy is Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE). The advantages are obvious. On the one hand it can extend the content lifecycle and thus help optimize resources for content creation; on the other hand it supports dynamic assembly and distribution processes that are required for customizing or personalizing content. Thus content no longer needs to be mass produced nor does it depend on the channels it is sourced from – or on the end-channels it is displayed on. In other words, COPE “separates content from its presentation”.
However, engineering content for personalized delivery relies on the metadata or descriptions behind the different bits of content and the algorithms used to match content with audiences. Especially important is the way a company handles its metadata. Content must be tagged at a component level for the system to be able to retrieve it. Otherwise it might just as well be non-existent. And only well-defined metadata will allow finding relevant, appropriate components and filtering out irrelevant components and thus enable companies to connect with their audiences. For example, if a marketing professional wants to customize newsletter content for a specific persona or client journey phase, the metadata must enable the engine to find this information.
Therefore, content must conform to structural and semantic rules that allow machine processing and matching. Semantic metadata (information about the content) gives the machine clues on how content can be mixed, recombined and matched to real people. In-built analytics gives clues on what these people want to see.
However, whereas the system is able to store, retrieve and assemble content pieces, it cannot assign content to the appropriate semantic category. Often these metadata are designed by corporate librarians or even information architects. But not every company has them. Therefore semantic tagging has to be part of a content creator’s workflow and can be quite resource-intensive. However, the better the metadata, the better the customer experience.