If you want content that effectively draws in prospects and stakeholders months and even years after you create it, then you should be producing at least some evergreen content. In this context, evergreen means that like the tree, the content stays fresh and functional instead of eventually“dying off” in terms of relevancy as time goes on.
Referencing current trends, events or statistics can enhance others’ perception of you and your organization has having a finger on the pulse of your field or industry. In fact, Edelman Digital produced a piece on the benefits of producing real-time content. But focusing only on the latest news and trends means that you must constantly churn out new stuff in order to stay relevant.
Evergreen content continues to work for you long after you’ve published it because it continually attracts new online traffic. Readers, viewers and listeners will always want to know how to improve a skill, cultivate self-esteem, be a better parent, etc. Many of the principles behind achieving such desires are timeless, so a piece that explains these enduring rules will garner attention.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about your prospects and other stakeholders feeling that they’re consuming outdated information if they come across it months or years later. You can help things along by creating links to that content in your web pages or other communication channels such as Twitter feeds or blogs so that the same text gives you several chances to place yourself in front of prospects, influencers and any other members of your target audience. Plus, mixing them into your content marketing mix gives you more flexibility because you can run an evergreen piece at any time of the year.
You can also use timeless text as an option for getting a byline in third-party outlets such as publications and other blogs. Although they do thrive on time-sensitive pieces, publishers and bloggers need evergreen articles and posts for the same reasons your in-house channels do.
However, the downside to an evergreen topic is that you can count on many, many people covering it before you do. So, a fresh take on that topic will strongly appeal to editors and will also benefit your in-house efforts.
Below are clarifications of what evergreen content isn’t and is:
Examples of Non-Evergreen Content
- Breaking or recent news/events
- Writing containing current statistics or numbers
- The latest trends
- Product reviews
- Seasonal topics
- References to a specific season or the current year
Examples of Evergreen Content
- How-to’s, tips or explanations regarding timeless techniques/principles (e.g., “How to write concisely”)
- Declaration of a permanent stance on a particular issue (e.g., “Wordy writing wastes readers’ time”)
- Pieces covering history (e.g., “How flowery writing fell out of favor”)
- Glossaries of specialized terms
- Lists of resources
Note: Although the content is evergreen, you cannot just create it and then forget about it forever. Resource lists and glossaries in particular may have to be updated occasionally because available resources and specialized languages change over time. And as technology or society changes you may have to add or subtract tips from your how-to pieces.
How to Make Your Content Evergreen
- Don’t use terms like last year or two weeks ago. If you must, use the year to give a sense of time/history (e.g., 2013, early 2013 or late 2013). Otherwise, try to use something more general like in the past or recently.
- Don’t cite recent studies or trends to make your point. Use the term recent research or include a quote from an expert/icon in the field.
- Stay away from mentioning current events. The exception is if you give them a sense of historical perspective so your audience won’t realize that the piece was created at the time of the event (e.g., “During the 2014 Oscars, Ellen Degeneres’ Oscar selfie became designated ‘The Most Retweeted Tweet Of All Time …'”)
- Avoid figures that are likely to change, e.g., demographic numbers, prices, health-related statistics.
- Take the dates off blog posts and online articles. Some PR and marketing experts (like Jeff Bullas of the Jeff Bullas marketing blog) don’t this and some (like Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner blog) do.
So if you aren’t already doing so, start generating that evergreen content!