Evergreen Content: Essential to Your Content Mix
By Karen Geier
The best content strategy is one that is timely and responsive – it correctly aligns what your audience wants to read and responds contextually to current events. There are times, however, when you can’t rely solely on this strategy. There will be periods of time on your content calendar where you plan to post – to your social channels or on your blog, for example – but it is inconvenient to do so on the fly.
Enter evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that is suitable for your vertical market and reflects your company’s point of view, but you can publish it at virtually any time. If you’re planning your content mix, you should budget at least 10% of your content to fit this purpose.
Why You Need Evergreen Content
Holidays seem like an obvious choice for evergreen content, and it can be used for that, but there are other times when having evergreen content at your fingertips will pay off. For instance, if you have a current post ready to go and something happens in the news that will make that post appear insensitive or inappropriate, you’ll want to pull that post and switch it for evergreen content. Another example of a good time for evergreen content is if you are leading up to a big corporate announcement, or you need to have some content to fill out a time when you might not want to be responsive.
How to Create Evergreen Content
Begin by looking at the trends in your top-performing content. What are the types of themes that seem to elicit the most engagement? Are the stories that perform well for you about a certain topic, or do they elicit a certain feeling? (For instance, articles referencing nostalgia often perform well because most people like to remember positive experiences and re-experience cultural touchstones.) Figure out angles around things you know performed well, and write content that hits those sweet spots.
You can also look at some tried-and-true topics that resonate with larger populations: family, parenthood, and life’s funny coincidences, for example, but these might not fit for every brand.
Your focus with evergreen content should always be to engage and entertain. Don’t choose topics that will cause controversy or ignite fights in the comments if your goal is to use them in spots where you may be short staffed or not closely monitoring your content performance.
Types of Evergreen Content
If you’ve traditionally posted medium-form blog posts, consider testing out content lengths. Longform is performing better and better for content providers (so much so that Buzzfeed’s weekend posts are often longform-heavy).
Consider galleries, quizzes, listicles, open threads, infographics, instructional articles and how-tos, video content, and caption contests as ways of extending your content offerings in new ways.
You could also look to taking a piece of content you have previously produced and re-engineer it. Buzzfeed often takes high-performing lists and makes them into videos, for instance. You could equally do the reverse: take a video and make screenshots from it into a gallery or a longer-form blog post.
You could take results from older quizzes and make new questions based on them. You could make an infographic comparing last year’s responses to questions and comparing them to this year’s. These types of posts are easy to produce, but also answer your audience’s curiosity and can be published at any time.
Should You Test New Content Types or Themes in Evergreen Content?
This is a question around which there are two approaches.
- Introduce themes that are close enough to the types of posts you normally make to be considered on brand and on theme, but to not experiment with form. This lets you know whether your evergreen content is performing on a content level compared to topical posts during the same or similar time periods.
- Experiment not with theme, but with form to see if changing the form of your content makes a marked difference in performance.
You don’t have to test these two things in a vacuum. You can test one for a specific period of time, and then test the other.
Getting your content mix right is a difficult thing to do and requires a lot of planning, performance reporting, and nimble changes to the program once it’s in motion. One way you can make your planning easier is by having a series of posts and content available to you during times when you may need it that can be plugged in to your content mix, blends in easily, and performs well compared with your responsive and curated posts.
Creating evergreen content seems like an afterthought or a “nice to have” when you’re executing content, but it’s essential and requires thought and planning.