What is a content ecosystem?
Welcome to the jungle. In today’s digital metropolis, a never-ending content stream is flooding the internet. How much content are we talking about? Well, in 2021, 74 zettabytes of data were created. For context on how much data that is, one zettabyte is equal to 2 to the 70th power, also known as one sextillion bytes.
With so much content constantly being uploaded online, you may wonder, how can your business’s content stand out from the crowd? Well, that’s the beauty of a content ecosystem. A content ecosystem is organized content that works together to form a strategic network of assets to promote and support a customer’s journey. A content safari to the final destination to hit download, subscribe, add to cart, etc.
The elements of a content ecosystem
Just as every habitat requires several resources to thrive, five elements work together to form an effective content strategy. Let’s break down each one.
A content stream is a collection of content that supports a particular stage of the buyer’s journey. When you build out an ecosystem, content streams are all linked together to create a unified experience for the customer.
Asset mixes will inform the types of content you’ll group into your content streams. For example, your content stream could be on the benefits of buying sustainably-made shoes. Then, your asset mix would be Instagram ads, Google Search ads, a YouTube video, and a promoted blog. Like a jungle tree, you’ll want to branch out and craft content optimized for multiple platforms and situations to reach more potential customers.
So how do you navigate through pages of content to organize your beautiful mess into mini-ecosystems of their own? That’s where topic pillars come in, swinging on a vine to save the day. Topic pillars are broad categories that can help your brand establish itself in the digital marketplace.
To play off of our sustainable footwear example, a topic pillar for that brand may be bamboo shoes. Then, this topic breaks into subtopics to support and align with everything under that brand’s umbrella regarding bamboo shoes. It could look something like this:
Main topic: Bamboo shoes
- Subtopic: FAQs about footwear made from bamboo
- Subtopic: A thought leadership article on bamboo footwear trends
- Subtopic: Details on the products that the brand produces with bamboo
- Subtopic: A video introducing the bamboo footwear styles that are coming out soon
Want to make it easy for your customer to swing from one tree to the next? That’s where strategic linking comes in. What links do you include in your content, and what purpose do they serve? When you add links to your content, it is usually via crosslinking, embedding, or a call-to-action. The two main reasons you add links to content are to strengthen your topic’s authority and to lead your customers through the buyer journey.
We’ve come to the last branch in the content ecosystem. Content bursts take all the moving parts and put them into practice by dynamically configuring your content into valuable nuggets of knowledge.
In short, a content burst is figuring out how to use the content streams you have to promote timely events, campaigns, etc. For the sustainable footwear company, a content burst may be grabbing content written about renewable resource brands to promote during Earth Day.
Growing your business’s content ecosystem
To grow your ecosystem from the ground up, you need to be aware of the factors that impact its direction. Every business must examine its industry, target audience, solutions, and goals. This strategic web of content you weave needs to support the goals you lay out for your business.
Whether you are reviewing existing content, starting from scratch, or it’s a hybrid approach, there are two guiding questions you and your team should be asking.
- Does our content guide our customers through every step of the buyer journey?
- Will this content help us support and achieve our customers’ goals?
The digital content world is bananas. Here’s the good news. We’re here to be your wilderness guide if you’re tired of monkeying around to get out of the deep Google search results jungle. Go ahead, drop us a vine, and swing into our inbox.