Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

Writing Relevant Timeless Content For The Web

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Timeless Content Can Be Published in a Timely Manner TweetEvery once in a while an expert in one thing or another will Tweet a link to an older blog post that’s relevant to a current topic. It’s timeless content for the web.

A lot of times others who are mentioning it on their streams mention that it’s from a year or two or whatever ago.

A lot of times, it’s indeed timely once again (or still) but many times had it been written in what I call non-time sensitive language it would be even more relevant yet today… because you wouldn’t be thinking about the time element (and think: Oh yea, this is old).

Much content is timeless, however, and is as relevant two years from now as it is today. But it can be hard to not use time-sensitive words or phrases in writing or even while speaking on a podcast or video.

Some examples of this kind of time-stamp language:

Today
Today on December 7 in 2013
For the next thirty days
Right now

Might as well just cut many of these from newly-created materials. They often don’t matter when you write about issues. (They do matter at times in print journalism when people actually read a paper in the morning.)

I think about many of the content organizations create and how they are not necessarily as time-sensitive as a news story, for example.

Some things are, of course. Like a video wishing people Happy Holidays that looks at current holiday-related projects.

Many aren’t, however. A piece on how a project that teaches skills that help people in the ever-changing world and workforce can and should stay relevant for a while. At least until somebody decides the specific skill mentioned in the story is no longer taught.

I saw a video from 2004 in 2013 and it had interviews discussing a specific organization.

Now, while this is a few years old much of what they said in the video was still relevant in 2013. And probably will be in the future.

And if you don’t look at the quality of the video (it’s not HD) and nobody tells you that it is from 2004 you may never know.

In the online world, it’s much more user friendly anyway to use dates as opposed to today, tomorrow or yesterday. I’ve heard of some strategies where online editors say that those words are used to show immediacy and are later changed. But I’ve never actually seen a site where they are being changed later – which doesn’t mean that those don’t exist. I have seen sites where tomorrow actually is now a week ago.

So, why doesn’t everyone write this way? Because it’s not the traditional way we are taught. It doesn’t come easy.

It’s much easier to write TODAY as opposed to finding another term. Or perhaps better: Remembering to find a different term.

How do you change it? Here’s what has worked for me:

  • Recognize why it needs to change and when.
  • Think of the audience. For example, if your piece is a one-hit wonder and you are wishing people a Happy Holiday, it’s OK to use time-sensitive language. The message won’t make sense in March anyway. But if it’s a piece that can (and should) still have relevance in March pick other words.
  • Execute: Take a moment, think, pick other words. Rework content when necessary.

… that’s all I have on this. More tomorrow, which will soon become today. 🙂


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Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I'm Christoph Trappe and I'm the Vice President of Content Marketing Strategy, Americas, at ScribbleLive, which is based in Toronto and is a global content marketing software company. Before I started at ScribbleLive I was VP of Content Marketing and Conversion at MedTouch, a Boston-based company that helps healthcare organizations with digital marketing. I've written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs. If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I'm always happy to chat! Thanks for reading! - Christoph ctrappe@christophtrappe.com 319-389-9853

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