Content Strategy

Web Stock + Social Flow

Plant your story well, but add a steady flow of fresh  content.
Plant your story well, but add a steady flow of fresh content.

“Wow, that link is from 2011!”

“Wait, aren’t we on version 3.2 now? This page is about version 2.0.”

“So this blog post is great, but where’s the context? How do I find out more?”

In the past few months, I’ve moved from a social media role to a more traditional web content role. And in doing so, I’ve shifted from spending the majority of my day creating and curating brand spanking new content to reviewing and revising older stuff, much of which has grown stale over time.

Ideally, though, we should try to strike a balance between the two.

A colleague introduced me to the concept of “stock and flow,” which aims to simultaneously provide content that is both lasting and fleeting. Ideally, this means combining staples that are search friendly, well written and interestingly designed with fresh, social content curated from multiple sources.

In a recent AdAge post, Noah Brier argues that the distinction between the two is blurring, but brands should still use the concept to strategically plan and produce content for every situation.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been floating this concept on conference calls, using “stock and flow” to explain how we’re developing a new site. We’re carefully crafting the stock content to suit our audience and tell a (hopefully) compelling story that positions us in a rapidly changing market. The stock content will be tweaked periodically, but its goal is to provide context, case studies, analyst reports, and other resources. As visitors arrive on the home page, they’ll have a couple of potential paths.

But this site is different in that we’re infusing plenty of flow elements, too, through Twitter, YouTube and RSS feeds. These will pull in fresh content, seamlessly and continually, without needing much hands-on intervention from the web team. We’re curating this content from several sources, and will monitor it to ensure nothing detrimental pops up.

Like any living organism, the site needs a solid spine or backbone (the stock) to serve as a foundation. But living things also need a steady intake of nutrients – the flow. By striking a balance, hopefully we can automate some of the future care and feeding of the site while giving visitors something worth visiting.

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