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Top CMS features to avoid content debt

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Stop playing whack-a-mole with outdated articles and buried content assets that are slowing your organization down. The right content management system can help you prevent—and clean up—content debt.

If you're managing digital destinations that launched more than a year or two ago, you know about content debt—even if you've never heard the phrase. That ever-growing collection of articles, campaigns and other assets, much of which is no longer relevant? Your content debt lies there.

The longer it persists, the harder it is to dig out of content debt. While every content team should understand the concept and why it's a problem, they shouldn't have to think about it every single day. That's what a good content management system (CMS) should do: Avert content debt regularly so that you don't have to.

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What is content debt and why does it matter? A quick refresher

What is content debt?

Every piece of digital content that is not demonstrating value for your organization qualifies as content debt. This could include articles, videos, images, blog posts, PDFs, and anything else that you have published—plus all the drafts you haven't published. Are these assets still relevant? Can people find them? Are they engaging with them? If the answer to any of those questions is no, it's time to revise or remove the piece in question.

Why is content debt a problem?

Allowing content debt to accumulate creates a host of both internal and external issues. Teams get slowed down hunting for assets or unwittingly doing the same thing twice. Your audiences encounter slow load times, confusing or expired content, and broken links. As digital properties age and grow, the problem is becoming more widespread: A panel of industry experts that Brightspot convened last year named content debt a top content trend to watch.

How a CMS can help prevent content debt

A modern CMS like Brightspot will have features that simplify the job of producing content and keeping it fresh. Here's a rundown of what to look for.
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Multisite publishing
A multisite CMS allows you to share and manage content across multiple online destinations. Permissions, integrations, media assets and more can exist across your network of properties, preventing the overlaps, lapses in updating and duplicate publishing that can lead to content debt.
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Scheduled expiration
One of the most important things you can do to avoid content debt is to unpublish content at the right time. In Brightspot, you can set an expiration date for content or assets at the time of publication and not have to think about it again.
Do not saddle your digital properties with images, videos and other assets that are outdated, published in the wrong place, sized wrong or out of compliance with a license. A modern CMS with a DAM will help you maintain control and increase efficiencies across tasks such as re-use, version control, rights management, and user access.
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Clear workflows
When editor A overwrites editor B's changes and someone decides to start over with a new version, you have the makings of both content debt and a fair amount of wasted time. Install a CMS with real-time custom workflows that streamline how your team creates, manages, edits and publishes content.
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Translation and localization
When you're publishing the same piece of content across different locations and languages, it becomes especially difficult to track and maintain that content if you don't have the right CMS. Brightspot has a translation dashboard that makes it super easy to see which pieces are being pushed to which audiences.
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Support for technical documentation
Documentation libraries are a prime source of content debt, with proliferating updates and plenty of opportunities for dead-end content and confusion among versions. If any aspect of your organization's work involves user guides, release notes or help desk support, use a CMS that can handle this type of material with modular content, version control and permalink/redirect management.

How a CMS can help clean up content debt

While prevention is the best cure for content debt, the right CMS will also have features that help you pinpoint and fix problems across digital properties. Some examples:
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Built-in analytics
One of the quickest ways to identify heavy content baggage on your digital properties is to see which assets are eliciting a response from your audiences. The answers may surprise you, but you won't get them if your analytics are so cumbersome to access that you don't bother looking. In a modern CMS, users should be able to configure and view reports on site- and asset-level analytics in a variety of graphical and tabular formats.
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Bulk editing
Need to update a keyword in metadata? Retire a photo that has been used across multiple pages? In Brightspot, you can bulk search to edit or archive an entire selection of assets. This makes weeding out irrelevant or outdated content the work of a few minutes rather than several hours.
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Seamless integrations with third-party tools
SEO analysis, advertising, media libraries, artificial intelligence… Brightspot offers a variety of integrations with third-party solutions that can be essential tools for content audits. These will help you surface content that your audiences aren't finding, and they will help you locate and manage the content you no longer want to spotlight.


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