So here’s the good news: you don’t have to create all your own content. But all that content isn’t going to magically appear overnight. The content strategist does not only guide the content development process, but also to arrange pre-existing and future content. According to Halvorson and Rach, this content comes from six different places: all with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Original Content: Make it Extra-Special, Just for You
This should be pretty self-explanatory. If you want the best way to get personalized content tailored to your business and audience, make it yourself. It’s easier said than done though. Making your own content is work and takes time and money. But don’t worry – there are plenty of other ways to fill your site with content.
Co-Created Content: Embrace the Sell-Out
Whenever I put on make-up, I watch beauty vloggers on YouTube. Many of them mention that they receive products from cosmetic companies to review on their channel. This is co-created content. You provide the product and some incentive to a relevant partner who then creates the content for you.
The major benefit is that the partner brings along their audience, who trusts their voice. So, for example, if Kim Kardashian posts about a product she loves, her followers will likely seek out the product because they trust her opinion about make-up. Businesses can take advantage of this by sponsoring Kim Kardashian to showcase their product to her Twitter followers.
The downside to this is people may be distrusting of sponsored content because the opinions may not be genuine. Think about it: how much money would it take for you to say something good about a product? If the product is within reason, probably not that much. Instead, going back to the beauty vlogger example, cosmetic companies are sending vloggers a product and asking for their honest opinion: good or bad. Good reviews bring potential customers, and even a bad review can provide good feedback.
Aggregated Content: Bring in the Extended Family
Aggregated content is content pulled from other sources onto one site. You usually see aggregated content in the form of an RSS feed. Yahoo.com uses RSS feeds for weather and trending topics so the homepage doesn’t constantly need to change or update and so Yahoo can personalize the content for readers. That way, someone in Dallas can see the weather in Dallas without having to open up the Yahoo weather page. Neato.
Where aggregated content becomes aggravating content is when the feeds junk up the page. Does your user really need to see your Facebook page that hasn’t been updated in months? No. No they don’t. But as a content strategist, you should be making sure that Facebook page is updated regularly anyway.
Curated Content: Post Only the Best from Across the Web
Curated content is content that already exists that is hand-picked for your website. The content needs to fit your website’s theme and message. If your blog is for sharing pictures of cats, you shouldn’t randomly decide to share an article on U.S. politics. It goes against the message you are trying to share through your content strategy.
Curated content isn’t user-generated. That is, you have to go get the content yourself. Content you ask users to get for you is a whole other subgroup of content. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Licensed Content: Up Your Web Cred
Licensed content is your resources; aka, the trustworthy sources of content that that help users understand your content and makes your content look more credible. This can include articles, videos, or stock photos of all those happy employees that totally look like the people you work with on a Monday morning.
Using licensed content is a debate amongst content strategists. It can increase your web cred when used correctly, but can also seem like generic fluff on your page. More than once, I’ve worked on redesign projects for websites that use obvious stock photos. It makes the company look less genuine, which is the total opposite of what licensed content should be doing.
User-Generated Content: Make Your Audience do the Work
I’ve saved the best and worst for last: the user-generated content. You ask your users for content, and they will deliver: for better or worse. Ideally, you’re getting genuine feedback or creative ideas from your audience at a low cost.
But this is the Internet we’re talking about. These are the people who tried to name a boat “Boaty McBoatface”. When you get serious content, it can be just as helpful as co-created content. But bad reviews and troll comments can be a challenge all on their own.