From left to right, images by Lukas Mathis,  Edward Boatman and Simple Scott via The Noun Project.

From left to right, images by Lukas Mathis, Edward Boatman and Simple Scott via The Noun Project.

Since multi-channel content is what all the cool kids are talking about, people ask us constantly at Beegit which social, web and mobile platforms their organization should use.

They’re often surprised when instead of answering, I ask them how they create their content. From my experience, a modern and agile content production process is the real key to keeping up with the content Jetsons.

When people tell me they work with antiquated tools like Microsoft Word, I tell them there is zero chance they’ll have success with multi-channel publishing.

Why? Here’s a killer stat for you: According to the CMO Council, 58 percent of Millenials expect to connect with a company whenever they choose, via whichever channel they want.

That means they expect consistent content marketing from your brand on your site, blog and social media – and they expect to read it on their iPhone and Apple Watch.

So if you don’t start by developing content agile enough to adapt to a diverse range of publishing platforms available today and those coming tomorrow, it will be harder to catch up.

Microsoft Word leads a historically corrupt family of broken workflows that suck value from the good content that teams create. Word’s co-conspirators are any process that formats or locks your content into one display option.

Agile content has the opposite effect. It’s light and flexible content that’s easy to use across any channel. It starts with evaluating anything that slows down your development process. Here are some tips to get you thinking agile.

Don’t lock your content in jail

There are still Word apologists out there who think that the desktop publishing relic is a fine tool for team writing. It’s not.

It locks up your content by adding formatting you can’t control and that prevents you from repurposing your work. The same goes for writing in the back end of your CMS or site.

Creating an agile workflow means you never cede housing of your content to a proprietary source. You don’t know what content sharing or display tool is coming next. Neither do I.

But when it does come out, you’ll want a clean, reusable version of your content. If you don’t have that, your expensive content dies in a static word processor or CMS.

The bottom line: It’s crucial to think about how you store your content for reuse or else risk losing an asset of your business.

Don’t format, just create

Here’s another crazy number: B2B marketers share their content through an average of 13 different display channels.

But even if you can’t name 13 outlets for your content, chances are your still need to publish to multiple paltforms.

The transience of platforms means forgetting any sacred formatting cows because there are no H3‘s on Twitter.

Writing for the web means dropping heavy WYSIWYG formatting for the sake of easy multi-channel publishing.

To be truly agile, I recommend writing in Markdown, which is a flexible, easy-to-learn syntax that gets your content ready for web and print.

John Gruber invented the Markdown syntax. Here's an example from his blog,  Daring Fireball.

John Gruber invented the Markdown syntax. Here’s an example from his blog, Daring Fireball.

Bring on the chunks

If you want to keep up with the content surge without adding to the noise, you need to produce more quality content. But according to research firm Aberdeen Group, only 32 percent of marketers say they are creating enough.

Want a cheat code? Reuse what you have!

When you create content, focus on making good, short paragraphs capable of moving your existing piece along.

If you do that well, those paragraphs also act as stand alone chunks, so you can maximize their value by sharing them in different channels that require brevity. Take this section, for example. It fits into this guest post, but I could also turn it into a Facebook post about content development strategy.

If you’re content is worth reading then it’s worth it to chunk it out so you can distribute it to more people.

The Content Marketing Institute was able to create at least three perices of content from the same material.

The Content Marketing Institute was able to create at least three perices of content from the same material.

Make your team agile, too

Many companies get stuck in collaboration hell when they have team members work together because there is no set workflow. This will leave you perpetually short on content.

Take the opportunity to learn from the lean startup model of web development teams. They focus on managing people, identifying inefficiencies and implementing change.

Think your existing practices are good enough? Well, according to product management company OneDesk, 59 percent of middle managers miss valuable information every day, simply because they can’t find it or never see it.

Even good content teams end up working in silos. Get a quick productivity boost with a regular content stand-up meeting where everyone gives a five-minute update on what they’re working on and lists the hurdles they’re facing. I promise you’ll be amazed what you learn.