Last week I was looking at an old presentation I gave at a conference 3 years ago. The deck itself wasn’t my finest work, and from my memory of the event, it was far from the greatest presentation I had ever given. Partly it was the theme of the conference and my desire to pick up an early speaking gig even if it wasn’t an ideal fit, but largely it was the views I expressed at the time. I guess the same can be said of a lot of the old content on my blog and other writings.
I looked at it in the the context of my current thinking on the subject I was speaking about, and it no longer felt like me.
As thinkers, we evolve, and while three years may not feel like a long time, the pure speed of information that shapes our opinions has changed. Three years ago we hadn’t heard of half the platforms that are now the biggest on the planet. Consumption habits change, attention spans get shorter. Customers demand more. But in the face of all that, we exist on platforms designed to house, archive and organise content for people to find easily.
So given this permanence, what is the impact of old content on a brand, be it a corporate or personal one?
The Only Constant Is Change
I read an excellent piece recently about Content Ownership and Agile Content Development, and what stood out for me was this – “When our organization changes, the education of our target audience changes, or even the way they consume data changes, we need to repeat the process.”
There will always be a bedrock of information that aligns to the industry you work in, especially if governed by legislation and regulation.
But when it comes to thought leadership, opinion and educational pieces, how do you manage when your organsiation changes a position, or your customers needs change?
Recency as a search criteria is important, and people are looking for information that is current.
Should You Delete Old Content?
I don’t think there is anything wrong with retiring old content, be it a white paper, a slide deck or a blog post. There will come a time where the relevance will decline. I don’t think this should be the first port of call, however.
The greater value is in review and updating, and where possible, calling out what has changed (which I am currently doing with the old presentation on my SlideShare). Why? Because it demonstrates that you have evolved as your market or customer has. It shows you as in tune with the audience. It also demonstrates how the reader should be thinking about things as well.
Make Content Maintenance Part of Your Process
Just like a car, your content should have a regular tune up. Not every week, but at the least every quarter.
This ensures that the small things are still relevant, given the speed at which information moves. It also facilitates efficiency in the process of creation, because your base line is already there.
There will be a time when the content itself no longer makes sense, and your promotion of it will naturally decline. If you can’t find the new value, or it no longer makes sense, then pull it down and maybe revisit it again at some stage when it may make sense.
But above all, you need to make sure what you’re talking about reflects both the current market, and your current opinion.