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Content Marketers Should Think “Loosely Coupled, Tightly Formed”

By Jake Sorofman | October 23, 2013 | 3 Comments

In the world of software development, loose coupling is an architectural pattern that ensures flexibility and control in the delivery and maintenance of complex software systems. The idea is to construct software components for modularity, building blocks that are easily reused in a variety of broader use cases and system contexts.

At first blush, such wonky “below the line” ideas may sound like a far cry from the daily concerns of the content marketer. But when you probe a little deeper, you’ll see a useful analogy for the architectures that hold together our content marketing strategies.

Let’s apply the concepts:

Loosely coupled

In content marketing, loose coupling is about creating content assets that have independent value, but also fit neatly within the architecture of your broader storylines. Loose coupling gives you the flexibility to support a variable distribution cadence (e.g., scheduled, ambient, real-time), while ensuring that these assets also integrate into the architecture of your broader storylines.

Tightly formed

Like software architects, content marketers should begin with the end in mind, allowing your highest level business goals to inform your lowest-level content elements. This provides a business context for fulfilling your content supply chain—each of your content elements rolls up to a broader purpose. Tight linkages between elements, assets, storylines, campaigns, and KPIs makes it easier to measure ROI and ensures your loosely coupled content assets fly in close formation as they work together to advance and reinforce your storylines.

Coca-Cola follows a very similar architectural pattern in their content marketing strategy. They call it “liquid and linked.” Here, loosely coupling means that content elements can stand alone, but also fit into broader storylines. For Coke, liquid means that independent assets inspire engagement and social sharing on their own rights. Linked means that these independent assets work together to reinforce broader marketing goals.

So, as your setting direction in your content marketing strategy, ask yourself “are we sufficiently liquid and linked?” Are your content assets loosely coupled, but tightly formed?

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3 Comments

  • Jake – well said. Too many people think content marketing is about creating content. It is the understanding of how you intend the content to influence the reader as part of a buying cycle and series of interactions that is too often lost. Long-term thinking and clear pathways pay dividends in this regard.

  • Thanks for the comment, Bret. Great way to put it. Very much agree. It’s about blending the flexibility to be agile in your content strategy with the control of storylines and unifying ideas that roll up to your business goals.

  • Agree with Brad, well said. For those that aren’t familiar with software architecture, using chemistry as a metaphor (“content is atomic, and content strategy is molecular”) seems to resonate well.