Is Outdated Content Damaging Your Rep?

Stale or off-brand content can do more harm than good

For years, talent and press agents repeated the mantra “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” And for years, that may have been true. It was a kinder, gentler, much less connected time. Today, we’re in the era of Google and interwoven social networks that let us create, share and find content in a flash. And now, a bit of bad publicity or a piece of ancient content can travel farther, live longer and show up years later at the most inopportune time.

Modern content marketing has become both a blessing and a curse. The ability to achieve huge audience reach in (literally) seconds, is a dream. But for organizations undergoing a messaging evolution or a full-blown rebrand, letting outdated or ineffective content abide can sabotage your brand awareness efforts.

Something is better than nothing?

I’ve known companies who held tight to the idea that any content was better than no content at all. Even if that content was sorely off-brand or riddled with outdated messages. Again, it’s the idea that a half-accurate story is still a story … and hey, at least our name is out there. “Our customers will read something, and that’s better than nothing.” Or is it?

Today’s buyers, particularly when we’re talking large B2B purchases, are sifting through a tremendous amount of information at their fingertips. They are comparison shopping ninjas. Whether it’s an ePaper linked from a digital ad, a published article, or your own website pages–brand awareness content can make or break a first impression. It also sets customer expectations for a consistent value prop and solution offering once they decide to engage with you.

When evolution happens, stale content happens:

1. Messaging Evolution. Your product or service has evolved, expanded, refined or rebranded. That means your value proposition probably has, too.

2. Market Evolution. Times they have a-changed, and just like that Members Only jacket in your closet, your message lacks currency and relevance.

In either case, outdated content sells your brand and your capabilities short, fails to reach your intended target audience, and definitely doesn’t support a great customer experience.

Playing content whack-a-mole

It’s true that the viral nature of content sharing makes content governance feel like a neverending game of whack-a-mole. Try as we may, it’s nearly impossible to find and replace all dated content instances. However, with a practical content strategy, you can control what is within reach and make sure the most “mainstream” content sources remain on-message and on-brand.

Start close to home. Conduct a content audit of all the active content channels you control. Namely, your website, digital campaigns and social media pages. Depending on the breadth and depth of your online presence, this may seem like a daunting undertaking. But starting with the highest traffic pages and most downloaded/viewed content will help you take quick steps in the right direction.

Have a litmus test for your content. Let your inner Marie Kondo go to work. Ask yourself, “Is this piece of content completely off-message or off-brand? Or is it salvageable?” The 80% rule is a good measure. If at least 80% of the message is still on-point and there are no glaring inaccuracies, keep it until you can replace with an updated piece. (Set a goal to update within the quarter, not next year!)

If the message, visual brand or market relevancy is less than 80 percent (or it just doesn’t spark that joy!), it’s best to archive it immediately. This mitigates the risk of misleading your customers, confusing your employees and creating a costly disconnect between marketing and sales.

The truth is, a wholesale update of your content takes time. And sometimes you have to wear the old jacket a bit longer before the new one arrives. That’s fine if it’s simply last season’s color, but not if it’s ripping at the seams. It’s a good content marketers job to know the difference. After all, you’ve got a rep to protect.