Content Syndication: Amplifying Our Message

Content From: Susan Robinson, MS, Associate Director for Communication Science, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB PreventionPublished: February 28, 20123 min read


Susan Robinson, MS
The practice of syndicating content isn’t new, but certainly it’s an idea whose time has come. Communicators will tell you: if you want to extend the reach of your messages, make sure they are consistent - and repeat them often across many channels.

HIV/AIDS partners can reach more people on-line by working together to create shared content to syndicate among ourselves. When content is created once, but republished across Web sites, more people see key health messages and Web metrics can be improved. It also saves time and money and ensures up-to-date information.

You can see how content syndication works by cutting and pasting HTML code from a syndicator into your Web pages. You can quickly see how it’s done if you go to a site like's YouTube FeedExit Disclaimer. Just click on a video to bring it up, and below the video window you will see a button titled “Share”. Click on that button and you will see a button titled “Embed.” When you select it, you’ll get a snippet of code that you can paste into your blog or Web page.

If you are managing content for an institution, you may need to set up some infrastructure to syndicate. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, my colleagues have created a CDC Content Syndication Site, where users can create an account, giving them access to a range of topics. There are a number HIV/AIDS topics and soon to be more, including HIV/AIDS 101 information.

If you are looking to syndicate content, the first step is to make sure that what you plan to syndicate is high-value. While it’s easy enough to put code on your pages that enables syndication - when you have your infrastructure in place - with just a little more work you can create something that will be in demand. (Syndication is the sincerest form of flattery!) Here are some tips for creating high-value assets:
  1. Determine what unique content you can or do produce according to your mission and by surveying what other partners produce. Extra bonus points for getting together to discuss needs and making a plan for creating content assets without duplication!
  2. Use your Web metrics, customer surveys and knowledge of your audience to find out what content has a high level of interest and what information people most want. Also, consider pages that might not have a lot of traffic, but have a high impact, like information for policy makers.
  3. Make sure your content is up-to-date, is accurate, and that you can keep it that way!
  4. For many audiences, content written in plain language is a MUST. Readers must be able to quickly scan for key information and understand what’s being said the first time they read it. For FAQs, you’ll want to ask: is our content written to answer questions in the order our users will ask them?
As one of a number of federal agencies working with, the CDC is looking forward to getting together with other partners to increase our high-quality shared content. Do you have content to offer, currently receive content from others, or have plans to get into syndication? We would like to hear from you – please comment!