How to Operationalize Content Marketing

IT Modernization

Next-Generation Content Marketing

60 percent of marketing executives across all industries agree that content marketing is critical to the success of inbound marketing.

Churning out a steady flow of content to meet the expectations of a world that is always-on challenges even the most sophisticated marketing organizations. As a result, many CMOs are mimicking the proven techniques of publishing organizations to keep up with demand.

The trend

P&G’s Mark Prichard sent shockwaves through the marketing community when he reallocated millions of dollars in ad spend to the organization’s social communities. When things settled down, CMOs across all industries, whether consumer or business-to-business, began similar moves to fund content marketing due to its ability to get customers more socially engaged.  

Thanks to social’s steady proliferation, buyers have a larger range and variety of venues to share their thoughts, feelings and advocacy about a brand. Moreover, today’s search algorithms often favor the dynamics of content sharing and engagement when ranking results. Hence, brands are making bigger and broader-based investments in creating compelling content their customers and advocates will want to share. 

Despite the clear trend, many marketing organizations are struggling to become advanced content marketers since existing structures favor the execution of traditional campaigns, often with long lead times. Adopting publishing habits makes sense, since these organizations are set up to meet the demand for ongoing news. Moreover, marketers are starting to realize that egocentric-oriented ad copy does not always represent the type of editorial content buyers want to share.

As a result, many marketers are replicating the habits, processes and governance of newsrooms, staffing their department with editorial directors, content analysts, writers and editors in addition to designers. But hiring the right people is only the tip of the iceberg. Migrating to full-scale content marketing requires a new set of practices.

Search algorithms often favor the dynamics of content sharing and engagement when ranking results, a factor that has significantly increased investments in content marketing.

In this piece, Razorfish outlines several of the important components of building a content organization, including:

  • Crafting a vision, mission and governance model
  • Building an editorial team 
  • Scaling the operation  
  • Responding in real-time 
  • Recommendations for next-generation content marketers

 

Crafting a Vision, Mission and Governance Model

Vision 

A vision is a rallying cry for what you aspire to be; Intel’s content marketers, for example, aspire to unleash human potential by reporting on examples of how technology shapes our lives and future. IBM’s brand publishers aspire to build a smarter planet. AT&T invests its content efforts around helping small business owners reap maximum return from technology. 

Mission 

A mission lays out the execution strategy for turning the vision into reality. Intel, for example, organizes its brand publishing efforts around editorial beats much like a newspaper, including music and entertainment, sports, style and fashion, gaming, technology trends and the environment. Your mission makes your vision tangible.

Mission Graphic.

Governance

Every content marketing organization needs guardrails and quality standards that ensure its operation delivers on its vision and mission to protect and sustain the brand’s voice. Brands such as Intel and AT&T publish detailed style guides. Content from American Express’ Open Forum advises business owners on a full range of management topics. Content marketers from these organizations are tightly aligned to their legal, brand, PR and lead generation groups to align processes to support everyone’s goals. 

Creating a Vision.

Building an Editorial Team

Building a new organization requires a content director, who serves as the conductor assuring all content types are connected and in tune. You’ll also want to round out your team with several supporting roles:

Content analysts, planners, engineers, writers and editors

This team of resources defines and manages content categories to determine how muchcontent will be opinion, real-time insights, trendspotting or general advice. This senior team also acts as the right arm of the content director to sustain the organization’s editorial direction and ensure it’s fulfilled by quality writers. This team also measures the return of the content marketing organization.

Research, curation and design

These resources support content with primary and secondary research and subject matter, and cultural experts who find and annotate third-party content filtered through an analytically driven understanding of the audience. This team also includes the artists who translate it all into a visual language using techniques such as infographics, videos and slideshows.

Research, Curation and Design.

Publishing, distribution and social engagement

These are the experts who stage and publish content across all your owned media channels as well as those you buy. Social marketers convert content into currency to engage your audience across platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest. Content recommendation engines such as Outbrain, Taboola or IAC’s nRelate help you get content in front of even wider audiences.   

Measurement  

Leading content marketers also use analytics to track metrics such as content scoring, which rates content against qualitative goals such as brand consistency and direct response. Another metric, distribution impact, measures the “mileage” for distributed content, including supporting measures such as reach, engagement and drive to purchase. 

Scaling Your Business Operation.

Scaling the Operation

Content marketing can be a time consuming and even exhausting effort due to resource constraints (there’s a limit to how much your internal team can produce). Content marketers have a range of options to increase capacity while sustaining their standards.

Hire freelancers

Disruptions in media industries have made freelance journalists more available. You can find these resources in places such as Elance, Skyword and Contently. These communities often help you vet candidates based on qualifications and references.  

Outsource your newsroom

Some content marketers even outsource their newsroom through organizations such as Federated Media or PSFK that act as their content engines. You can also check out content agencies. 

Curate content from third parties

More and more brand managers are starting to look at the thoughtful curation and annotation of third- party content as a way to keep up with demand using Curata, Newscred or Percolate. 

Responding in Real-Time

Leading content marketers recognize that the best opportunities for gaining visibility with content marketing often occurs in real-time. Hence, many organizations are starting to empower resources with processes that enable real-time response to the daily buzz.  

Oreo, for example, took advantage of a Super Bowl power outage with its real-time listening facility. HubSpot, an inbound marketing software vendor, produces intensive thought leadership pieces along with those released in real-time, especially observations around holidays. HubSpot’s polished opinion pieces condition its audiences for its real- time observations, which are usually clever, funny and slightly irreverent. 

More content marketers adopt newsroom organization models to keep up with demand

Newsroom Organization Model Diagram.

Recommendations for Next-Generation Content Marketers

Craft a vision

  • Before you start, be sure you establish a vision and mission that clearly states your goals and objectives. The result of this exercise serves as your best decision tool when conflicts or new opportunities arise and questions arise as to whether or not content is the right fit.  
  • This exercise should also include a governance model. Remember, these are your guardrails rails for quality, which are always important in anything marketing produces. Governance becomes especially important when you use freelancers or draw upon third-party content to bolster your volume. 

Assemble an editorial team

  • Hire a content director, supported by an editorial team composed of talents representing content analysts, planners, writers, editors and designers. 
  • Look for former journalists in your hire plan since these are the type of professionals with deep experience in editorial process and in how to balance real-time needs with longer-term editorial calendars.

Go outside to help meet demand

  • Your editorial team doesn’t have to be completely insourced. Many leading content marketers draw on external sources and vendors to complement content marketing. 
  • Be open to the idea of even outsourcing your newsroom through organizations such as Federated Media or PSFK.

Balance your real-time needs with calendar-driven reporting

  • It’s painful to let a really good opportunity go by because you’re not prepared for rapid response. If this is important to you, make sure your governance model addresses these types of real-time opportunities. 
  • Consider building a mission control center that many marketers are starting to establish to keep an eye on things happening in real time that you can leverage. 

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