We have too much content.

In the digital age, it is easier to put content out there than it ever has been in any time in human history. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can publish to the entire world.

Digital has transformed the ways we reach customers and communicate with our audiences, and for most companies, this new power has been difficult to contain, resulting in too many parts of the organization publishing content with no coordination with each other. We’re sending emails, building microsites, or competing with others in our company to display offers to customers. Product owners, sales reps, PR, marketing, are all publishers.

A couple years ago, I was advising a major global technology company on how to reorganize its corporate blog, when I discovered there were nearly 40 other blogs being published by one or another part of their business. Altogether they were publishing just shy of 90 blog posts a week. The clients were shocked. No one had any idea there was this much content being created. A headcount revealed more than 200 people at the company were involved in this effort, spending significant amounts their time making content.

Without realizing it, a tech company was publishing the equivalent of Time Magazine every week.

The sad part? They weren’t getting any real value from all this work. Most of what they published consisted of dull product and feature updates and carefully worded press releases. There was no unified purpose to what they published, and unsurprisingly, the audience was tiny.

Imagine what they could do if instead they planned this enormous effort, if the staff were organized in a unified team, if they prioritized their audiences’ needs and if they knew the overarching story they wanted to tell. That’s what it means to have a content strategy.

What do you do when you have too much content?

As tempting as it may be you can’t just throw a switch to shut it all off and start fresh. First, you need to get a handle on what you have and what it is doing.

Content Audit. Have a content strategist inventory your content and assess it against a clear set of content and business goals.

Like Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, sometimes we feel powerless to make content stop. Credit: Michelle St. Laurent

After you have a clear picture of what is going on with your content, you can identify your ultimate goal for content and roadmap the steps to get there.  Chances are, you’ll be able to make a lot less content and make it better so it is more valuable to your customers and to your business.