A content inventory is a bit like a labyrinth. You could find yourself deviating down many paths with little sight of the exit.

And even if you are lucky enough to find the exit before being savaged by a Minotaur, there’s always a chance that you might come out the other end with very little in the form of useable content.

Any content strategist will agree that a content audit is a valuable and vital starting point for avoiding duplicated efforts and streamlining budgets at the beginning of a content marketing campaign.

However, the content audit doesn’t necessarily acknowledge that marketing has taken a fundamental shift. In the past content was broadcast to consumers in a one-way stream of sales messaging, peppered with product benefits and key messages.

That just won’t wash with today’s channel-hopping consumer. A brand will only reach today’s consumer if it does so on that consumer’s terms. Brands need to understand how consumers want to consume their content, where they want to consume their content and what would motivate them to consume that content in the first place.

And that means producing content that will engage with rather than broadcast at consumers. And it means dropping the sales messaging and delivering something which really speaks to the passions and pains of those consumers.

So before investing time and resource into auditing a potential labyrinth of outdated and irrelevant content, consider the following:

Three tips for smarter content auditing:

1) Streamline. Focus in on content categories that have the biggest potential to convert into social objects. If branded video content has always veered heavily in the sales direction consider conducting an audit exclusively around old case studies that could be revisited and refreshed to deliver practical advice rather than heavy hard-sell.

2) Score. Avoid ending up with an endless list of indistinguishable content by evaluating from the offset.  The ROT score assesses whether content is Redundant, Outdated or Trivial on a scale of 1-10. Additional scoring factors might also include the social robustness of content (whether it engages more than it broadcasts) as well as its relevancy to the audience.

3) Record. A glaringly obvious point but ensure every content inventory captures sources and live links to avoid any unnecessary future searches for recorded content.

Econsultancy has a handy Content Audit Template to get things started.

Image courtesy of sviestas under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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