As content marketers take on work that emulates what publishers have done in the past, they also need to learn best practices in content creation and management. These best practices include planning for, using and refining metadata – the data about data that publishers have used to categorize, track and repurpose content.
To be sure, not all publishers have perfected their use of content-related metadata. The ones who lead the way have found three ways to use metadata to improve the way they handle content:
- Describing content assets in ways that support search and retrieval, whether by marketing staff or target audiences. More than a decade ago, IDC established that “Knowledge workers spend from 15% to 35% of their time searching for information.” As the volume and complexity of available information has expanded, the problem has grown only more acute. Metadata helps cut through the clutter.
- Describing content assets in ways that determine whether and how the assets can be used. Most directly, this means rights management. As Mark Bide has said, unless users can easily obtain information about rights (Owned or licensed? If the latter, for what period and purpose?), “content assets” might be better considered “content liabilities”. And once either rights or relevance have been exhausted, good metadata can also help automate archiving.
- Attaching information that helps users identify similar and dissimilar content. A benefit when trying to create new content from existing assets, this is also an area where many publishers have fallen short. Describing assets in terms of months, issues or chapters doesn’t convey the purposes served. In the past, experienced editors “knew” the content, but the ever-growing supply of content makes this established approach unreliable and costly.
Good metadata also conveys basic information about content structure: Is this an article? A photograph? An illustration? If it’s visual, can the version be used for higher-resolution purposes (print versus web)? Publishers and content marketers often consider structural data to be a component of search and retrieval.
Metadata supports search and retrieval, informs whether and how content assets can be used, and streamlines repurposing of similar assets. Content marketers can obtain these benefits by adopting best practices in planning for, using and refining metadata.