Rethinking Evergreen Content

As content and digital become intertwined table stakes jargon for organizations designing products and experiences for their audiences, the words we put in front of our audiences elicit a very “What have you done for me lately?” response. Digital has done a tremendous job of elevating the importance of content, but it has equally devalued its longevity. We often equate week-old data sheets or last year’s white paper with yesterday’s news. After all, today’s latest hot take has already rendered all those thoughtful pieces irrelevant, at least in the eyes of a voracious audience. But we might need to reconsider how we think about that content.

Why Evergreen Content Works

As we slog through the never-ending content, we need to adapt our thinking around how we traditionally value the words we put in front of folks. One of the most discernable shifts I have seen is centered around evergreen content. This content type is the backbone of any digital experience, as it balances perfectly with shorter-form information that has less of a shelf life.  

So what makes evergreen content work? While its form is debatable, I view evergreen content as longer-form content with a slow burn that takes weeks, if not months, to create. However, the time and energy put into it pays off. Once the content is produced, it often has a longer shelf life and can exist on your site for months or even years.

What makes evergreen content effective is its ability to provide a thought-provoking take on a basic concept. An example might be, “Why Mutual Funds Are Such a Valuable Financial Product.” You could read that piece in 1983 or 2017 and glean the same insights. The value in evergreen content is its ability to captivate a reader without feeling dated and irrelevant. 

One of the greatest examples of evergreen content came from Hollywood—home of the next big thing. The movie Spotlight is centered around breaking one of the most heinous stories involving the Catholic church. The movie works in many ways, not the least of which is its ability to show the delicate dance of knowing when and how to release a story, predicated on getting the facts straight and knowing that once that content is out there, there’s no going back. Sixteen years later, that content is just as valuable now as it was then. Evergreen content succeeds in its ability to shed light and offer perspective on something we had never considered.

Evergreen Content in Today’s Digital Landscape

OK, back to reality. This isn’t a movie, and we’re not breaking stories for our websites. However, we owe it to our audiences to provide evergreen content that works within the confines of our editorial process as well as satiates the appetite of our audience.

Evergreen Redefined

The biggest shift I have made in my approach to content is to no longer relegate evergreen content to nothing more than a rubric for my content audits. I include it as a content type in my editorial calendar. I even call it “Spotlight” for some of my clients. I have also strictly defined the value of this content type. Evergreen content is not simply nice to have—it is critical to balancing out your content mix. You don’t need yet another top 10 list—sometimes, you need substance.

The next time you’re considering your audience’s needs, don’t forget this important and often overlooked content type. The investment made in producing and nurturing this type of content is paid off by an artifact that will continue to provide value years from now and will only increase the long-term value of your brand.   

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