Is there a Content Shell Life — Case Study & Research

Have you ever wondered about the fleeting nature of news articles these days? How does this transience impact your blend of marketing, authoritative perspectives, research, and other news-oriented content? Recent research conducted by Chartbeat, a platform for content analysis used by publishers, offers valuable insights into how an article’s positioning, traffic source, subject matter, and other characteristics influence its lifespan.

Robert Rose, the chief strategy advisor at CMI, elaborates on the implications of these findings for your content decisions in this week’s CMI News video. You can watch the video below, or I’ll provide you with the key points:

Consider this: How much time does it take for content to garner 80% of its total lifetime views? Chartbeat delved into a vast pool of 27 million articles spanning diverse networks, encompassing prominent media outlets, companies offering products and services with a media component, and more. They defined an article’s lifespan as the duration required to accumulate 80% of its total page views within the initial week of publication.

Astoundingly, a significant majority of news articles achieve this 80% milestone within a mere 24 hours of their publication. Nearly all articles complete their journey within 48 hours.

Chartbeat clarifies that this doesn’t imply that articles won’t continue attracting views in subsequent days. Instead, it highlights the paramount significance of the first day in this equation.

Equally fascinating, but not entirely surprising, are the patterns associated with traffic sources. Articles driven by returning visitors, such as those appearing on the front page, reach 80% within 20 hours. Pieces generating views through social media sources attain this benchmark after 26 hours, while articles propelled by search-based traffic stretch the duration to 36 hours.

These observations align with logical expectations. Breaking news items tend to swiftly gain attention when showcased on a media outlet’s front page. Conversely, search-driven content requires time for indexing and discovery.

Chartbeat’s analysis also explored variables like topic and time of day to discern any noticeable variations. Spoiler alert: No substantial disparities were detected in these aspects.

So, what does Chartbeat’s insight into an article’s lifespan signify for those engaged in content creation? Robert maintains that the primary lesson lies in acknowledging that this research centers around news-related content. Irrespective of whether your brand positions these articles as news, if your audience perceives them as such, the content’s longevity will be remarkably brief.

Consider the example of a weekly news package provided by CMI. This package covers current news and topical concepts, presenting them in a format that can be considered somewhat “breaking” through articles and videos. While the content could be seen as evergreen due to its intention of conveying takeaways beyond the week, it exhibits engagement and traffic patterns similar to what Chartbeat’s study uncovered. Most of the traffic is garnered within the initial 24 hours.

“This design is intentional, aiming to convey that we are attuned to the latest trends, thereby building trust over time,” explains Robert.

But why does this matter so much?

This phenomenon has been recognized for quite some time. People inherently value older content less, particularly content incorporating thoughtful insights and research. This understanding led to the practice of removing dates from content to extend its relevance.

Regarding evergreen content, Robert stated last year, “A timeless piece of content doesn’t automatically ensure its enduring relevance. Not all content that stands the test of time is inherently timeless.”

While this is an insightful piece of advice, it might require a bit more space on a bumper sticker.

What’s the bottom line? Your strategy should encompass a blend of news-focused content that triggers immediate attention and clicks, alongside evergreen content that consistently draws the audience back.

So, how should you navigate this mixture? Should you include publication dates or not? What’s the lifespan of your news-oriented content? Share your reflections in the comments section.

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