Four Kinds of Content to Consider for Your Web Content Strategy

Kristina Halvorson

Recently, Christine Beardsell had a must-read post on ClickZ calledDeveloping a Diverse Brand Content Strategy.

The post focused largely on video, but replace "video" with "text," "audio," or "graphics," and it's still applicable.

Four types of content to consider in any web content strategy.

We're pretty excited about her ideas over here at Brain Traffic, and we're going to adopt her classification system of web content types:

  • Original content: Content your business creates and owns. By default, planning for original content is the foundation of any smart web content strategy.
  • Co-created content: Content that's co-developed with a partner (like a blogger) who is already developing content for your target audience. 
  • Licensed content: Content you pay licensing fees for, in order to republish under your brand.
  • User-generated content: Content generated for and about your brand, product, or service by an audience.

One thing we don't agree with, however, is that your web content strategy should automatically include ALL of these types of content. At least, not right away.

Why? Two reasons.

You might not need all these types to meet business objectives and user expectations.

What do you want your web content to accomplish? What do your users expect from your content? How are you going to measure success?

Get these questions answered and make your original web content work, FIRST. You may find it does a fine job on its own.

It's simply a matter of prioritization. If you're a health insurance company, figure out how to use plain language about health insurance before you license health content from WebMD. If you're a financial services company, figure out how to make your product and service information more customer-facing before you publish dozens of videos of your executive team doing soundbites on CNBC.

You might not have the resources to create, manage, and oversee it all.

This is something we see time and time again. Companies commit to a web content strategy they simply can't sustain. They launch websites with unfinished or subpar content no one really had time to generate in the first place, let alone pay attention to once it went live. They create newsrooms and blogs that languish after only a few months. They start YouTube channels but aren't sure what to broadcast (except commercials).

Again: Start with the basics. Figure out how you're going to get a handle on planning, creating, and managing your original content. What should you publish, and why? What are you trying to accomplish with your content? What's the workflow? Who's responsible?

Go slow. Be smart.

It's tempting to go publish content – text, graphics, video, audio – just so you have something to show your boss or client. "See? We're out there, doing stuff!" It's easy to license content. It's sexy to build communities for (or solicit) user-generated content. But web content needs to be useful. Relevant. Actionable. Content for the sake of content is a commodity, and a worthless one at that.