For the past few years content producers have had an increasingly difficult problem to solve: how to produce enough content quickly to keep modern, online-enabled, users happy.
With ever decreasing attention spans, and with ever more content available to them, people expect a constant stream of personalised, engaging, short form content delivered to them, most of which they are consuming on instant response portable online devices. No longer will users be happy to go to brand-centric focused websites that produce a couple of articles a day. They want customer-centric personalised content and lots of it.
Twitter and Facebook have transformed the ways in which users discover and consume their information. No longer do people go to news sites such as BBC for their breaking news but instead from fellow users. This can be a blessing and a curse: information that wouldn’t warrant front page news on a major site can be found quickly, often sourced by friends and local trends but false information can spread unabated by rumour mills free from any editorial control – Clive James’ impending demise being a recent example.
Users are also reading less and consuming much more with their eyes and ears. Written reviews and guides have vastly decreasing readerships while video reviews and podcasts are a booming market. There are a staggering 400 hours of content uploaded to Youtube every minute according to CEO Susan Wojcicki and that number is increasing. Instagram, not Twitter or Facebook, is now the most popular social media channel with 400 million active monthly users.
In the face of this, how can a small content producer compete? The traditional model of long form content published a couple of times a day now seems glacial so, without resorting to cheap, poorly-produced, rushed-out content what options do they have?
One approach is to combine the company’s unique owned content with relevant and engaging aggregated content from around the web. By properly sourcing third party content to carefully complement their own, companies can have a section of the web that will attract and retain a loyal user base. Information overload is a real issue facing people today and by having a tailored site for very specific, insightful, tailored content companies can generate real value.
The key to this approach is to blend the element that is unique to the company – owned content - with the relevant third party content in a harmonious balance. If there is too much third party content or if that content is not relevant then the user base will not see the relevance of the site. If there is not enough then users will feel the site is stagnant and stop visiting.
To keep this balance takes time and effort and is often under-estimated. Companies often look at content aggregation as a magic bullet and expect it to take all the burden from content production but this approach is often extremely detrimental. Why should users come to your site when they can see all this content on a bunch of other sites or, even worse, generate their own content aggregator suited perfectly to their own tastes?
Content aggregation should be always be used by companies as a complimentary addition to their content producers output and never as an alternative. In these days where content is consumed more easily and faster than ever content producers can be a company’s best weapon in the war to attract attention to their site and should never be seen as a resource burden.
So how do companies ensure that the aggregated content is targeted and appropriate for their own content production? As well as carefully selecting the appropriate sources manually, companies now have a variety of tools and sources to assist them. Many sites have very specific rss feeds. Keyword matching and semantics software can be very valuable tools by allowing companies to extract very specific articles from much wider-ranging sources.
By Gary Loftus, Technical Director at Better than Paper.
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