Building a Collaborative Content Process
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Content marketing has been transforming the marketing world for years. And whether you’re a skeptic wanting more results or a devout believer overhauling your entire marketing department, many experts continue to believe it’s the way of the future.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as a style: “focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience,” eventually spurring consumers into action.
It boils down to, “the belief that if we as businesses deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.” The concept is easy enough, but how can you build a process that will allow the best ideas to flow? Here’s some great advice from enterprise-level leaders on how to get started:
Form and nurture a great team.
The most important step to building a collaborative content process is to create a stellar team and ensure it functions properly. In order for your process to succeed, you must have the full support of everyone in your business. This increases your collaboration ability and your diversity, in addition to giving you the most diverse pool of ideas possible.
Fostering an atmosphere where ideas can be heard and supported or tweaked is essential for successful content marketing. Brightpod author Yamini Sharma encourages marketers to keep in mind, "your content is trying to provide value to your target audience or help your existing customers use your products better. Any idea about how you can make this happen should be welcome.”
That’s why It’s important to reiterate that you have to consider the ideas of everyone in your business -- not just your marketing team. The more ideas you have, the better the quality of your content will be.
In order to build a collaborative process, you must give multiple team members the ability to create and edit content -- preferably, the majority or all of your marketing department. Yes, it can be intimidating to let everyone have control over an idea, but allowing everyone to edit and add to documents borrows from wiki-style idea sharing. While seemingly unorganized, one recent study has shown that the multi-author content creation process, “may more closely mirror the traditional writer/editor process than it does the ‘crowd as writer-editor.’”
Rather than causing chaos and confusion, many people working on the same document naturally fall in line with the structure of writing and revision your team is already familiar with. The key is finding ways to communicate with ease.
This communication is the key to collaborative content marketing. To boost your team’s efficiency at communication, use any of a multitude of collaboration tools to share documents and ideas (I’m partial to Trello and Asana). This allows the best of the best ideas to rise to the top and your marketing strategy will be better for it.
Use technology (when you can).
As mentioned above, technology can drive your content marketing light years ahead of where you are now -- as long as you use the right tools, correctly. There are several handy tech ideas out there to streamline your collaborative process:
Acrolinx is a terminology management tool. Since your marketing revolves around telling a story (or, at least, it should), intentional words are a necessity for your team to choose together. Content Rules, Inc. CEO Val Swisher highly recommends this software, noting, “When everyone agrees on the words we are going to use, it makes the entire process of creating content more efficient. And more speed means less cost for writing, editing, and translation.”
Evernote is an app that lets you store all kinds of information from various sources -- text, images, research to look up later, etc. Content marketing requires an immense amount of organization, and Evernote can help you accomplish these multiple projects at once.
Awesome Screenshot allows you to edit and share pictures. While initially, this may not seem to be the most useful content marketing feature, think of the app as enabling you to leave feedback the way a professor writes on your term paper. EnVeritas Chief Operations Officer Aubrae Wagner speaks highly of the program, saying it enables her to “take a snapshot of my screen then mark up the screen with text, arrows, circles, boxes, etc. I save the image to my desktop and send it to staff.”
CORE is a technology from Influence & Co. that enables team members to “access their content, view their content analytics and even showcase their published content on their public profile, which makes the entire process easier, more enjoyable and more transparent.” CORE is geared specifically to content marketing, making it the perfect tool for the job.
Balance leadership and personal accountability.
In an ideal setting, your content marketing team would function like a hive, with all team members contributing just the right bits to make an excellent whole. However, most teams struggle occasionally with the direction of their content.
In some cases, this originates from a lack of structure. If all team members are editing the same document, there must be a balance found between leadership and personal accountability. If one person (even if he or she is the director of the project) has too heavy a voice, it can cause the rest to keep opinions to themselves or even to turn in unedited work.
On the other hand, if no one keeps the group on task, time and effort may be wasted in an unintended direction. Make sure your team has enough drive to turn in quality work, with just enough leadership and structure to keep the bar high enough to excel.
Great information alone won’t get you there.
Finally, the best research in the world won’t turn into profitable sales unless your marketing team knows how to use it. Knowing what consumers want is only half the equation. The other half is plugging in that knowledge into something that can benefit the consumer.
Brian Clark, CEO of Copyblogger, has some great advice in this arena: “Headlines, images, subheadings, and paragraphs should all be optimized to best express the information presented, but more importantly the information presented should be valuable and relevant. Just remember, your audience is ‘where the rubber meets the road’, and no company blog is going to find traction if the content doesn’t stick.”
The takeaway here for building a collaborative content process is simple: make getting information and turning information into meaningful content the two overall goals for your team.
Have another suggestion on how your team has created or currently manages a collaborative content process? I’d love to hear it! Leave me a note below with your tips: