Building a Culture of Content
Think about what you know of content strategy for a moment. Does some version of “planning for creation, publication, governance of useful, usable content” spring to mind? Perhaps you, like me, have done your homework and kept up with the writings of Kristina Halvorson, Erin Kissane, Margot Bloomstein, and the handful of other content strategy heavyweights that have helped shape the content strategy discipline as it is today. If so, then you’re already off to a good start.
But when it comes down to it, where do you actually begin to “make” your content strategy? How do you start to organize the pieces to build something to last?
The answer lies not in tedious planning and crafting of the perfect strategy, but in shifting the culture of your organization to support the strategy -- first. You need a village to raise a barn, and a team to support a strategy. And for that, you need to create a culture of content.
Making the case
You are the marketer, and so far you have been the main proponent for getting content together for your website, blogs and content marketing efforts in general. You’ve resigned to the idea that the developers and project managers and designers don’t have time or desire or possibly even ideas, for that matter, to contribute content. So that leaves you and a handful of the strategic or biz dev types in your company to produce the content marketing pieces.
But this is all wrong.
For starters, think about your audience and what they expect from your content. ISITE, for example, has a breadth of subject matter knowledge and focus areas that we practice. As the Marketing Specialist, I don’t know any more about optimizing landing pages or building analytics dashboards than what I can read on my morning blog roll, which isn’t much. It isn’t my forte, and I can’t write well about it. But our Day2 team sure can. And certainly our potential clients, current clients, and industry peers want to see useful content that comes from experience and practice, not speculation.
A broader range of experienced voices will give your content (and your organization) the credibility you ultimately need to drive business. Explain this to your management team to make the case to gain the resource hours you need from a range of perspectives.
Rally the team
So you need to recruit a team. At ISITE, I invited everyone in the organization to join what we deemed “Team Content”, and held a kickoff lunch with pizza to explain the concept. The idea was simple: share your ideas – any, ALL, ideas – in our company intranet (in which we created a structured space for collaborating on documents). I reached out specifically to previous content contributors with a positive track record, as well as others who had shown interest in contributing, to share the initial ideas to get the ball rolling.
In the first month, we had one third of the company contributing ideas. Just by lowering the bar for entry, and inviting even the non-writers in the crowd to just share their ideas, generated a buzz around the company. Turns out, a lot of my colleagues had some great ideas they never knew how or where to share.
Open the newsroom
Of course, creating a platform for sharing ideas wasn’t enough. Team Content met once a month to hash out ideas and discuss collaborations, new directions and perspectives, and examples to round out story concepts. New perspectives offered insights into what we were doing through a wider lens, versus focusing heavily project-based or promotional pieces.
We then prioritized and assigned out deadlines to build the editorial calendar for the month, pulling in ideas from all corners of the organization.
By opening up the lines of communication, people were encouraged to not only elaborate on their ideas, but also to participate in the ideas of others. In a matter of months, we had over three times the amount of blog posts than we had the same quarter in the previous year. But more importantly, the content was from a range of topics and perspectives.
The day I heard “I just think of everything in terms of what I can write a blog post about now!” I knew the concept was working. Our culture was rallying behind content.
That whole strategy thing
Of course we know, if you build it… they may or may not come. This is where the fun ACTUALLY begins. Now that we’ve gotten the initiative off the ground, and the content production ship is sailing full steam ahead, the question shifts from “Is it working?” to “HOW is it working?”
After an initial qualitative content audit, I’m working with our Day2 team to understand data from Google Analytics and determine what is working for us. By delving in for a deeper look, I’ll be gaining insights to inform the strategy to shape the second half of our year.
Stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to Insight to hear more content strategy insights.