When spring arrives in the northern hemisphere many people get “spring fever” — that feeling of increased energy and optimism. Whether it is opening windows to get fresh air in the house, purging attics and garages, scrubbing baseboards, or cleaning out closets, there is no better time to start clearing out the clutter and reorganizing what you have.
What does spring cleaning look like for your content? Just like that messy closet at home, an organization’s content closet can also be cluttered, leaving content teams to be overwhelmed by their ever-growing content volume and chaos.
1. Start With a Content Audit
A content audit is the process of collecting and analyzing all assets. Content audits can be performed monthly or even yearly, keeping an accurate inventory and providing insight into the types of content that needs to be created, updated, or deleted.
Without a periodic content audit, content can be hard to find, which often leads to duplication. Instead of seeing what already exists, content teams find themselves re-creating the same content into different types of documents, with context added for different audiences, and localized for different languages. Producing and keeping track of all these copies becomes a significant burden. Before you know it, your content closet is filled with copies and derivatives that must be hunted down and updated individually, making it impossible to keep in sync. We like to call this the content explosion.
This ‘one and done’ type of approach may work when content is being developed for the first time, but chances are, the content will need be to updated and changed eventually, and likely more than once. Repurposing old content so that it can be reused is a good tactic to get your organization back on track. The secret to doing this successfully is to ‘link — don’t copy’ the content. Because reused content is linked, not copied and pasted, you can easily keep everything in sync, no matter how many different versions and formats you create to serve all of your unique audiences — simply make changes once to the source content and seamlessly push updates to every location, publication, and delivery channel where that content is used.
2. Purge the Waste
When cleaning out our own closets, we assess what fits and what doesn’t, what is out of fashion, and what we no longer will use. Just like that outfit you’ve been hanging on to since a decade ago, but never wear, it is time to purge the waste from your content closet. Knowing when an item is outdated/expired, duplicated, last used, etc., can help teams determine when the end of a content lifecycle is.
With content accumulating every day, often spread out in different platforms and systems, removing wasteful content can seem daunting and overwhelming. If you have content in an LMS, CMS, LXP and others, chances are content has been added, forgotten, orphaned, and become obsolete. Don’t hold onto outdated content — purge it. If the content is outdated and unused, delete it. If you can’t delete content due to compliance or organizational requirements, archive it.
A central repository (“closet”) provides content teams the ability to easily query content across systems and platforms, change that content once and keep all deliverables in sync.
3. Tidy and Categorize
Auditing content provides insight into what is present and what can be reused, while purging unused or duplicate content frees up space. The next step is to start tidying and reorganizing your content closet. As Marie Kondo, organizational consultant who founded The KonMari Method™, advises her clients to organize their clothes by color, type, and material, organizing your content with intelligent tagging is key to easily identifying your content inventory.
Items can often get mixed in with other types of items, such as a shirt gets nestled in a closet and hung with pants. This causes delay looking for a specific item and often, it gets easily overlooked. Tagging by job role, topic, content type and more, allows organizations to run specific reports to identify version history, engagement, trends, and usage. Creating an organized content closet applies a foundation of structure by making content searchable, reusable and easily maintained over the long term.