Optimization glossary

Digital content management

What is digital content management?

Managing a company's digital content is essential for successful business operation. 

Digital content management (DCM) is a set of processes allowing businesses to streamline digital content production, allocation and distribution. Think of DCM as a superhero librarian managing and protecting your digital capital. 

What is digital content and how can it be managed?

There are two generic types of digital content management systems to choose from today: asset management (DAM) systems and content management systems (CMS).

Digital asset management systems 

Internal digital content needs to be organized and indexed to help forge efficient business operations. It also needs to be secure. 

DAM systems are often used for internal digital data management, particularly for managing content in its purest forms -- blueprints, raw video, drafts. Examples of digital content DAM systems are used for:

  • HR files and branding templates
  • Business contracts and presentations
  • Employee training manuals and videos
  • Raw research data
  • Proprietary design files

Digital content management systems (CMS) 

Content management systems are ubiquitously used to control external, public-facing content (e.g., website, social media and mobile app assets). You may be familiar with several content management systems already without even realizing it -- e.g., WordPress is a CMS building 41% of all websites.

CMSs are very efficient in organizing digital assets for public sharing -- now or in the future. CMS content typically includes digital assets related to marketing, sales and customer support. 

Public-facing digital content typically found in a CMS includes: 

  • Product information 
  • Photos and videos
  • Social media content
  • Blogs, eBooks, white papers
  • Website assets

A CMS can manage internal content as well. Many company intranets are designed using a CMS instead of a DAM.

Digital content management as process

Digital content management is more than a software solution. It's a cycle of automated processes. The software you choose to manage your digital content merely facilitates this cycle's efficiency. 

Various models have been developed by researchers and corporations to describe the digital content management cycle. All of them parallel the content lifecycle, with slight variation. 

1. Import or create digital content 

Digital content starts with creation. The content manager either creates content or acquires it. Regardless, the digital content management process begins when the content is first instantiated and saved into the management system's database. 

You can classify content based on a variety of attributes that will come into play later. It is good practice to set up certain naming conventions and content creation protocols before you start importing or creating new digital assets. 

2. Identify users and roles 

Who will be your different content creation users -- both internally and on the public side? 

Digital content management is always a collaborative process, with people interacting with the content throughout its lifecycle -- from videographer to video streamer. 

The best digital CMS solutions empower all five user roles:

  • Content creators. Responsible for creating, importing and editing digital content.
  • Editors. Not in charge of raw-cut editing but oversees the message and delivery style to match different needs for different content consumers (e.g., translation, localization).
  • Publisher. Determines when and to whom to release the content for use. 
  • Administrator. Manages users, groups, roles and digital content access. The gatekeeper of all digital content, or in many cases, particular realms of digital content (e.g., videos, blogs, images). 
  • Consumer. The person consuming the digital content once it is shared. This is typically someone from outside the company -- an online website in the e-commerce industry or app user. It can also be an employee when the system is set up to manage internal, digital content. 

3. Assign roles and responsibilities 

Administrators may create groups to provide permissions to users overseeing the same tasks. Roles will be assigned to users to ensure that digital content is managed throughout its lifecycle. Content responsibilities must be outlined for users in different roles to ensure data integrity and security. 

4. Define workflow processes

Content management becomes project management in this phase. Workflow will be automated using a CMS or DAM. The processes for managing, following and facilitating digital content, however, need to be outlined. Different CMSs can be set up for project monitoring. 

5. Version tracking and management

Digital content almost always goes through an iterative development process. Version tracking and managing content changes are critical parts of content management. CMSs and DAMs should do this by default. Don't forget to set up a system for tracking changes if you build your own CMS from scratch.

6. Publish to provide access

The publisher needs to be able to publish once digital content is ready for sharing to the world -- or your company. Publishing is the ultimate phase of generic content production. These days, however, customers and site visitors crave personalization. 

7. Personalize content based on user

Customer journeys and digital content personalization are becoming more important than ever to recruit customers and build brand loyalty. The best CMSs will allow you to customize and personalize what content different users see. For example, do you know that the visitor is a male who's into hang gliding? You can have your CMS select a header image from among all the pictures in your database with blue sky in them. 

8. Archive or delete digital content

The ability to archive old content is key. It saves on data space and makes CMS and DAM processing more efficient. Sometimes you may want to delete content -- often for reasons that are best left unstated (e.g., copyright infringement, adverse social-media reaction to a video). Every digital content management system needs to be able to do both of these things.

Deciding between server- or cloud-based digital content management

Digital content management is a must for any company that supplies content on the web, social media or in mobile app form. Content management systems run on two different installation types, and the installation you choose will impact how much digital content you can efficiently serve. 

On-premises installations are run from servers -- either on premises at the company or via a hosting vendor. The space and efficiency of these management systems is limited by and dependent on the quality of the server software.

Cloud-based CMS services offer amazingly fast processing, can be scaled up as needed, and are resilient to power-outages and other server-room horror stories. Make sure you consider which installation will be most efficient and cost effective for you before you decide upon a digital content management system.