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How to conduct a content inventory

If you’ve just read my post Is your content out of control? and thought yes – oh my goodness yes it is – the first thing to do is to take stock and conduct a content inventory to really assess your situation.

This is also useful if you are about to embark on a major website redevelopment or content management system (CMS) implementation.

From my point of view, a content inventory simply lists all the different content assets you have within your organisation. Some people use the term to mean a detailed spreadsheet of each page and link on your website. I tend to call this a content audit – but each to their own.

Whatever you want to call it, the aim of this stage is to have a clear snapshot of what content you have out there.

What to include in your content inventory

  • All websites you manage – both external and internal (intranets), and standalone landing pages.
  • Any social media profiles you have such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube.
  • Any directory profiles you have.
  • Blogs that  you contribute to even if they are not on your website.
  • Libraries you may have. Many large organisations have libraries, some even with dedicated librarians. This is all content.
  • Marketing collateral you give to customers.
  • Style guides or publishing policies that govern how content is created and maintained.
  • Other sources of content such as call centre scripts.

For each of the content assets you identify, make note of:

  • How big it is (web pages, profile details, stats).
  • Who is responsible for authoring the content.
  • Who is responsible for approving the content.
  • How frequently is it updated or maintained.
  • Any metrics on lead generation or revenue that is generated from the content.
  • The nature of the content (is it sales, news, for information, policies etc).
  • The key message of the content.
  • Any linkages between the content assets – is content being re-used?

What you are looking for

  • Have a look at your business plan/marketing plan/strategic plan. Do your content assets support your business in terms of goals, messages, positioning, or even the personality of your organisation?
  • What sort of return are you getting on your content? Does it match the effort that is put in?
  • Do you have consistent standards that you apply to all of your content?
  • Are there clear roles and responsibilities for those who author, edit and approve content?
  • How up-to-date is the content? What needs to be reviewed?
  • What content is missing?

This process may take a while, and you may be surprised at what you find out there. I’ve been in a couple of organisations where it wasn’t uncommon to come across websites that were being run by rogue departments without any input from IT, marketing or communications.

But the best thing is, but completing this content inventory you are taking the first step towards the development of a content strategy for your organisation.

Freaked out by spreadsheets? Hire me to do you content inventory.

This post was written by Sally Bagshaw

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