You’ve decided on a content marketing strategy, the creative team is chugging along putting it into place, and all seems well. You’re creating content for different social media platforms and different campaigns and it’s being shared in a million different places and you’re so much with it, but where does it all live? If someone wanted to find everything and get an overview of your brand, or just browse to see what you’re all about, where would they go? If a social media network were to go belly up or simply decline in popularity with your target audience, where would your content still be? Would it be anywhere at all (aside from hopefully your localized and religiously implemented backups)? The answer to all of these questions, whether as part of your primary website or as a stand alone site that gets linked to, is a brand content hub. Think of it like a shelving system for all of your content, someplace that doesn’t move around as you pick certain books or movies or photo albums up from time to time and where you always know to look. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it doesn’t have to be some huge undertaking aside from your general website, but it does need to be somewhere you can rely on to manage all that wonderful content you’re creating, and it should follow these few tips.

It needs to be someplace you own, NOT rented land

Whether it’s a company blog, a specific website for just your content, a section included in your existing general use corporate website, or whatever other approach makes sense to you, it is critical that all of your content ultimately reside in one place that is controlled by you. This means not a social media profile and not a sharing or syndication site or anywhere else that you’re using while someone else runs it and ultimately controls it. Social media is fantastic and we’ve talked at great length about how useful it can be and how important it is to a modern marketing strategy, but how many social media networks of one kind or another have we seen fall by the wayside already? Friendster, LiveJournal, Xanga, even the once great MySpace is all but defunct (though it has found a small renaissance within the music industry). It may seem that Facebook and Twitter are now too big to really fail, but if you really think back, we’ve said that before. The last thing you need is to have to drag all of your content from one network to another because you don’t have it already uploaded and ready to go in a central location that you can rely on. Use social media to link and share, but keep all of your content someplace that you own and control, so that your efforts aren’t undermined by the whims of someone else’s business decisions (or mistakes).

Everything, even if it’s also housed someplace else, should ultimately be archived on this ONE place

It’s not enough for you to have backups of your content, and resist the urge to have independent sites for individual types of media or specific campaigns. If someone wants to find all of your content, that shouldn’t require them going to six micro sites for every campaign you’ve run over the past eighteen months. Micro sites or separate galleries for different events or campaigns or kinds of media are fine, but they should all be outgrowths of your primary content hub. You can duplicate content to Facebook or YouTube or Tumblr or whatever social media network is relevant as necessary, but maintain a copy in your space.

Make it easily searchable

Once you have your single, central location, however you set it up, figure out a tagging system and an organizational scheme that lets people find things easily across different media types or campaigns. As a user, if I go to your site, I should be able to browse through all your available content if I want to, or I should be able to narrow it down to specific products or campaigns or topics, without an excessive amount of effort. If you go to MLB.com, for example, you can simply browse through the newest or most popular videos, but you can also then find everything featuring a certain player, every highlight from a certain game, or even everything from a certain team’s season commercial campaign. These are the same videos that are available on individual team sites, as well, because again, one location, no matter how many places you share it or duplicate it.

Whenever possible, link to YOUR version of something

Housing photos on Facebook or videos on YouTube for the sake of reaching more people is often a good idea, because of the audiences available there and also simply the way the current technology of those sites works, but if you’re linking to something from another social media platform or in a press release or anything similar, link to the version on your hub. You want to drive traffic to digital real estate that you own, not that’s building ad revenue and increasing visitor totals for a social media network or a syndicator. The local versions on any sort of secondary site are just that, secondary.

Include your content hub in your main website navigation

Even if it’s set up as an independent site, make sure that your content hub is included in the main navigation and site map of whatever your primary corporate site is. You want this stash of content to be offered to visitors as part of their overall experience of your site, not something separate that they have to go looking for, or that they’re going to potentially think of as superfluous or unnecessary because it’s housed away from the rest of the information they may be looking for. Micro sites or campaign specific landing pages may not make sense to link from your primary site, but your general content should always be easily accessible to whoever the general audience or your site is.

Let the type of content you’re primarily producing dictate how your hub is designed

Depending on whether you’re primarily producing articles or other text based content, photos, illustrations, videos, or some mixed media offerings, you’re going to want to create and organize your hub in a different way. Don’t try and shoehorn your content into a format that may not make sense, because the result will be awkward navigation and the Winchester Mystery House of web design if you aren’t careful. WordPress is a fantastic tool if you’re primarily going to be doing text based blogging and sharing articles, but trying to turn it into a full service video sharing format would likely be a mess. This is a case where it’s best to simply let form follow function.

This can seem like a simple matter of organization, but it really goes beyond that. Not only do you make your content more accessible by making sure that all of it is in a central location that’s easy to navigate, but it makes it that much easier for your own team to know what they have and access it if need be. And trust me, once you have the organization established, keeping it up can be a breeze. Have you ever come across a brand with great things to say but that made it difficult for you to find what you were looking for? Ever learned something new or deepened a relationship with a brand because their organization made it easy for you to learn more? Let us know in the comments!