What is the Shelf-life of your Content?

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A holiday turkey typically lasts about 3-4 days in the fridge after it has been cooked and served. Content for a one-day-only Black Friday sale, on the other hand, may not even last as long as the bird. By Saturday, it will no longer be “fresh” — or relevant, in this case.

This is one example of how content shelf life can be very short in some instances, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for marketing purposes. But it’s just as possible to present evergreen content that’s longer-lasting in nature and provides a longer-term return on the initial investment.

The point is not all content has the same shelf life, and that’s fine. Some are very short, as illustrated by the example above. This is also true with content based on breaking news or trending topics since it may be outdated or irrelevant soon after. However, other content, like business profile pages, is designed to provide long-term value to the intended audience.

While content shelf life varies based on purpose and intent, there are ways to gain more control over how long your content lingers online and delivers beneficial results

To get a better idea of what to expect with content freshness, I dive into this topic below to provide a guide to help determine your content needs and expectations.

Shorter-Lived Content

I’ll break this down by types of content that generally (although there are some exceptions) tend to be shorter-lived or longer-lived. Short-term content types include:

Social Media

Typically, social media content, especially via Twitter and Facebook, is more short-lived in nature. This is where you might, for example, alert customers about that Black Friday sale, or if you’re a financial advisor, about upcoming events that could move the markets. Some businesses also creatively use Snapchat, and even TikTok, for customer engagement purposes, which is also very short-lived content due to the nature of these platforms.
As for the exceptions, LinkedIn content can have a longer shelf-life for something like a business profile or post. Even YouTube content in video form can be archived and still remain relevant.

Text Messages

Content shared via text for marketing purposes also tends to be on the shorter-lived side. This might include alerts about an upcoming deal, new product arrivals, and similar things that usually only mean something to recipients for a short period of time.
Content shelf life is also typically on the shorter side when it involves:
• Content for consumer-based email campaigns
• Paid ad content
• Landing page content tied to limited-run paid campaigns

Longer-Lived Content

Evergreen content is the ultimate type of long-term content in that it has the potential to remain fresh and relevant for many months (or years) after it’s created. The list of content typically likely to linger and stay relevant for longer periods of time includes:

Blog Content

There’s also somewhat of a gray area with blog content in all its forms. In general, more in-depth blog posts (or even guests posts in some cases) tend to be longer-lived. In fact, some blog posts can be considered evergreen content if all that’s needed is a few updates now and then. However, blog posts can also be seasonal in nature, for example, which can limit shelf life.

Online Magazines

Content for online magazines also needs to be more evergreen or long-lasting in nature — at least for several months. People tend to return to this type of content repeatedly or recommend it to friends who may not read it right away.

More often than not, other types of longer-lived content include:
• White Papers and Reports
• Best Practices and Instructional Guides
• Articles (intended for platforms like Medium, Substack, and LinkedIn)
• Infographics
• How-to Guides

Determining Content Shelf Life

The next step is to figure out how long content is expected to last before it’s given a place to live online. One way to accomplish this goal is to divide content into content buckets. What this does, in a nutshell, is categorize content based on the intended purpose.

Evergreen content, or at least content with a longer shelf life, is often preferred when a lot of time and effort goes into creating it. Content outsourced or obtained from third-party sources that are more in-depth or evergreen in nature can also linger longer online.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other with shorter-lived and longer-lived content. For instance, more comprehensive content can be complemented by social media posts or other content with a shorter content shelf life if it covers more timely aspects of the same topic.

Regardless of what you have in mind with your content, make sure shelf life expectations match the general nature of the places where it will live online.

Keeping Content URLs Alive

Just because some content needs updating over time — as may be the case with how-to guides that need to be modified occasionally as products or services change — doesn’t mean the URL has to be let go, too.

Because URLs have SEO power to some extent when optimized, you generally want to hang on to ones that already have achieved significant visibility online.

Takeaways

• Content meant for quick consumption, like social media posts, has its place
• Content that takes more time to prepare typically offers more of an ROI if it sticks around longer
• A well-rounded content strategy has a mix of short-term and long-term content
• Determine the desired or expected content shelf life before you decide where to place your content

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