Following the motto “More is always better”, companies produce a vast amount of content that does not only miss the target audience but also their purpose. There is a lack of cross-divisional coordination in the process of creating and distributing content.
Content Governance describes the necessity to define workflows and task ownership within a corporate structure, in order to be able to steer the planning, creation, distribution and monitoring of content.
„Content is king”
A frequently quoted statement of Microsoft founder Bill Gates from the year 1996. The fact that content, and text in particular, determines the success or failure of websites, is not new at all. The insight that targeted corporate communication in the digital age requires strategic planning according to Content Governance Guidelines, however, is only starting to spread among marketing managers.
No more bullshit
The competition for users’ attention is becoming fiercer every day. An individual is being targeted by an average of 10,000 marketing messages a day. Many of which are completely irrelevant, or, let’s face it, total bullshit. This is why consumers filter for relevant, value-adding content ever more precisely. Generic content communicated via mass media will not attract anybody’s attention anymore. Even worse than that: It is likely to directly be binned by the users’ mental bullshit-blocker.
The new way
Only a targeted presence on multiple channels and platforms, as well as the creation of relevant content with real added-value will be rewarded with favourable SEO-rankings and the attention of your target audience. In order to meet the modern quality requirements on content, companies must learn to work in a strategic and coordinated way. This is where Content Governance comes into play. It is about generating content for your corporate blog, managing your Facebook page, tweeting regularly, posting Insta-stories and uploading videos to YouTube. With an increasing number of communication channels that can be used by companies to spread their message, the level of complexity in Content Marketing rises. What is needed is a kind of Content Governance that ensures a consistent image and at the same time target audience- and format-specificity of content.
How-to: The Content Governance 1 x 4
The good news: With relatively little effort and, if necessary, some restructuring in your workflows, you can establish an infrastructure that can transport a successful Content Marketing strategy. According to our experience, the following 4-step-approach has proven to be particularly helpful:
Before thinking “Who?” and “How?”, think “What?”. When creating targeted content the process follows the substance, not the other way around. Very often this is a challenge – especially within large organisational structures, where a silo mentality has creeped its way into people’s heads and the corporate culture is stuck in old patterns. Effective content does not respect the borders between your divisions – it is often at the interface between the apartments where the most valuable content can be found. And this is as much a hassle as it is an opportunity. Because working in a cross-functional way on the creation of digital content according to Content Governance can also provide an impetus for trans-sectoral, creative thinking in other areas too.
Concerning content 2 sub-areas are of particular importance:
- Which content is relevant and helpful for the target audience?
- What is the depth of a particular piece of content and which stage in the sales funnel does it refer to? For example: A machine producer who communicates specific, product-related expert knowledge should be aware of who can get the most value out of this content (e.g. engineers) and where in the sales funnel they can be found (e.g. close to making a purchasing decision, bottom-of-the-funnel – “BOFU”). With this categorisation in mind, content can be targeted even more precisely.
- How are the individual pieces of content inter-connected? Can you define overriding topic-clusters?
- What is the scope of your content? (e.g. a length of 800 words of blog articles) And: Is this in line with the user behaviour of your target audience? Do the readers of your blog really spend 10 minutes to read an article of 800 words?
- On which channels and in which formats does content need to be published in order to make it as easy to find and consume as possible?
- Which terms and keywords are to be used in terms of search engine optimization?
- In what frequency is content being published?
- In which language do you communicate your content?
- How do you handle gendering?
- When directly addressing your audience: how close or distant are you in your language?
- In which style and tonality can content be communicated in order to be (1) consistent with your corporate identity and (2) attractive for your target audience?
When you have reached clarity about which content needs to be created in what formats for which channels, you then move on to define processes and process-owners in a second step.
Concerning your team, the following 2 sub-areas are most relevant:
- Who is responsible for content creation?
- Who is in charge of the tasks accompanying the publication (e.g. layout, illustrations, etc.)?
- Who assumes the authority over reviews and approvals?
- How do you coordinate your content creation? (e.g. in form of a monthly editorial meeting)
- How long is the planning horizon? Is there enough buffer for feedback loops, approvals, translations, etc.?
- Which tools do you employ for your editorial planning? (Ourselves, for example, we are big fans of Trello because of its simple, intuitive handling and scalability.)
To conclude: If you want to create content with substance in a structured way and if it is your goal to clearly define workflows and ownership, you must stop acting like a headless chicken and start looking for content in a strategic way. Gone the days of anarchism, of content chaos and silo mentality! With the help of Content Governance Guidelines, you can bring back order to the creation and distribution of your content. And with that, half the job of Content Marketing is already done.
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