Content audits – whaddya got?

One of the first components of any content strategy is a look backwards. Which for one thing is counterintuitive because strategy always involves some planning and planning is about the future.

But this look into the past is vital. Why? Because before companies start to create and curate they should know what they already have.

CountingAnd most don’t.

It isn’t usually that companies don’t value their past content efforts. Or that they don’t recognise other ‘assets’ as content, in the right context. Or that they don’t know where to look. Though all those can be problems.

It is mainly about the size and complexity of the challenge.

Collective Content has worked on qualitative content audits encompassing several hundred items. That means reading/hearing/viewing those items and recording what they contain. There is no shortcut and it isn’t easy.

So what happens when a content archive spans several hundred items? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands, even?

Those scenarios are increasingly common.

Some companies review meta data only, such as headlines and tags. But that means missing things.

One solution is the random sample. Got 200,000 pieces? Pick every thousandth piece and audit 200 items. But that entails all the pitfalls sampling brings – not just missing things, even whole categories of content, but skewed results.

No, increasingly those involved in content strategy must rely on technology. While there is no silver bullet right now, everything from high-end data offerings (eg Autonomy) to used-every-day Google features to Amazon’s Search Inside the Book tell us this is possible.

Much like good strategists, we must start by considering what already exists.

Collective Content (UK) will  be bringing you more about content audits this year.

*photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photopin cc

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