Evergreen content not all that evergreen.

The ever-wise and observant Jennifer Kane, consultant at Kane Consulting sent this tweet yesterday, causing me to consider my past history with “evergreen content”:

In the radio world, an episode of a program with date-neutral content is produced to fill air time should calamity strike [snapped tapes, sunspots, old-fashioned user error, etc.]  These episodes are called “evergreens,” and are used only as a last resort to avoid the dreaded “dead air.”

They are replaced often to keep things somewhat current, actually making them less “evergreen” than the name implies.

Evergreen content is thought to be a godsend to some content creators and publishers. It was relevant before it was even published.  It will be relevant for all eternity. It is EVER GREEN.

But what content is really evergreen? What content does not require some degree of maintenance? What content is not made out-of-date by SOMETHING? Content that few will find really valuable or compelling.

What could possibly happen if content is dealt with in the RonCo Rotisserie method — set it and forget it? Lots of things. Your content might:

  • Become out-of-date
  • Gain a new context
  • Become unusable due to CMS updates
  • Expire, from a legal or rights standpoint
  • Confuse people with multiple versions
  • And more, unfortunately

All of these can lead to a terrible user experience, and even worse, legal liabilities.

Publishers and content creators are strapped for time and resources. Many are too busy pushing the content out the door, leaving no time to put a proper content maintenance strategy in place.

Having a strategy in place that considers the lifespan and life cycle of content can help avoid these issues.  Good questions to ask when putting one together:

  • Is the content good for 6 hours or 6 months?
  • How do editorial considerations apply?
  • Are different versions of content tracked properly?
  • Should it be archived or deleted?
  • What triggers activities like archiving and relocation?
  • What stays on site, what shows up only in searches?
  • Are legal contracts, rights, and obligations in sync with content?
  • How are new contextual opportunities managed?
  • How are new business opportunities applied to existing content?
  • Plus many other considerations.

Plans take time.  Content maintenance strategies take time.  Workable content strategies take time.

Putting a strategy together may add more to existing workflows. Editorial oversight requires staff resources. You’ll confront long-term CMS issues. But, a good maintenance strategy can also provide new opportunities as new business models and development pop up. The final result? Better than evergreen.

You will soon find out that your content can remain vibrant and relevant long after it has been published.

[“Pine tree / 松(まつ” image by Flickr user TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋) (CC:at)]

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