Content creation as a social media strategy has become more and more popular in the digital marketing world, and rightly so. Connecting with your potential and current customers via images, videos and text and branding these consistently takes time and energy. As a small business, and working mostly with small businesses, I’ve done all this myself to date, and pieced together solutions with the various tools out there – most of which are free. Check out the Zestee Lists section for ideas and inspiration here. DAM is a new term I’ve only heard recently though, so here’s a post with some highlights if you’re also new to the idea.
Following an ad on LinkedIn or Facebook, I downloaded a free ebook “Digital Asset Management for Dummies” from an organisation called Bynder. This 84 page PDF is available in exchange for some basic details, which of course will set in motion the sales cycle for Bynder to see if you require their services. The first email offered the download link and the second an invite to a webinar. The third was in Dutch (as I’m based in the Netherlands) from a real live person – I looked him up on LinkedIn! I sent a quick email response to say I was just doing research for my marketing students (as I teach part time at The Hague University of Applied Sciences) and received a fast reply essentially acknowledging this. I’ve taken a quick look at their website pricing page and basically when a company says that pricing is available on request, it means that as a (very) small business I can’t afford it! But I will keep them in mind for the future, and the ebook was an interesting introduction to the concept.
So here’s a few key points about digital assets and DAM.
What are digital assets?
Wikipedia offers the following definition:
A digital asset, in essence, is anything that exists in a binary format and comes with the right to use. Data that do not possess that right are not considered assets. Digital assets include but are not exclusive to: digital documents, audible content, motion picture, and other relevant digital data that are currently in circulation or are, or will be stored on digital appliances…(visit Wikipedia for more)
The DAM for Dummies book describes the fundamentals of DAM this way…
The proliferation of valuable media assets has created the need for a system to manage and retrieve them so that they can be used to attract and delight customers. You have your marketing materials, video, graphics, photos, brand assets, and much more called rich media. Each asset has its own requirements and variations that must also be tagged, uploaded, and stored in your DAM system.
My own take on this is that any business of any size is continually creating digital content including:
As long as they are complying with copyright, they own this content.
Below are a few of my own challenges I’ve faced and pieced-together solutions so far.
When I first started in digital marketing, good stock photos at a reasonable price for a small business were hard to find, and those that were free were near impossible, or of questionable quality. Unlike many others online, I’ve always taken copyright issues seriously and only used images if I actually took the photo or had explicit rights to it. Now in 2017, there are several stock photo sites with excellent free images. But back to those photos you have taken in the past, how do you organise all these and find/access them when you need them? I have literally hundreds of thousands of photos and keep these on two external hard drives and in Dropbox. Even with the neat feature of Google Photos to be able to search your own images for terms such as “pizza”, it’s still far from a perfect system.
I’ve taken lots of video in the last decade, and watched the quality increase significantly – along with the file sizes. I now own a Canon DSLR and a GoPro, and my iPhone 5 still takes some pretty decent video. I’m finding that I just don’t have the time for video editing and currently have gigabytes of video clogging up my hard drives and Dropbox.
I have a number of logos for my different brands, in various formats. Together these don’t currently take a lot of space and I store them on my hard drives and Dropbox.
Currently my files are spread across Google Drive and Dropbox. Though this isn’t always efficient, it works fairly well to date as I’m a sole trader. If I need to share files or photos with clients, I can either download and email them in a specific format or use the file sharing features.
A large part of what I do is speaking and pitching, so I have years of presentations. I like to store the majority of these publicly in Slideshare. This helps build a portfolio that is then easy to share.
I have many years of content scattered across all my social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Instagram and more. Some of which I originally produced in another format is also in one of the systems above, but in most cases it is now “lost” online, particularly on channels such as Facebook where it’s very difficult to find past posts. Recently, when I pitched for a new contract, I realised that I need to build a portfolio of my best content from each channel and haven’t yet planned out exactly how I will do this.
Benefits of a DAM
As I mentioned above, as a very small business on a very small budget, I’m currently piecing together ways of organising and finding my digital assets. Learning about a DAM and what it can offer has been useful though. Considering a majority of my digital assets are photos and videos, I think one of the best solutions for me at the moment is to simply learn how to use the products I already own, such as Adobe Bridge. I’ve opened this a couple of times and found it too complicated, and it wasn’t until writing this article that I realised that is a DAM, but right now it’s not a priority as the systems I have are working ok.
Interestingly enough, I think I need a personal DAM, my daughters are almost 8 & 10 years old and having grown up in a digital age, I have so many photos and videos of them, but also blog posts and social media posts. I think there is a gap in the market here, as I’d pay a small fee for something like this…Dropbox does ok here (for which I pay around 99 euros a year) but Picasa used to be a great tool that wasn’t really a DAM but offered some of the elements (like being able to quickly find photos and videos and organise these). Google Photos shut Picasa down but still haven’t really won me over yet.
Do I need a DAM?
So to sum up, if you’re a very small business or sole trader, you may not have the budget to pay for a DAM but knowing the basics is useful, and the DAM for Dummies book is perfect for this. It introduces you to some useful terms such as taxonomy and metadata and explains the value of digital assets and best practices. Larger organisations may already have a DAM, or if they don’t, could definitely benefit from having their digital assets all in one place. To learn more about whether your organisation needs a DAM, the links below will give you more information.
- Bynder offers a free trial as well as the free ebook that is referred to in this article
- DAM Maturity Model: Audit and improvement of DAM capabilities
- 10 Core characteristics of a DAM article: Useful list of things to consider when choosing a DAM
- DAM Vendors: Overview of a large number of DAM systems
- DAM Pricing Survey article: Well written and thorough research about pricing in the industry
Sharing any of your own experiences with or thoughts about DAM (Digital Asset Management) are also most welcome in a comment below.