Building a successful culture of content marketing is not easy. In fact, for most companies, it may seem near impossible. Whether politics or procedure get in the way, the idea of collaborating on a sustainable, company-wide content marketing effort is easier said than done.
But, one thing is painfully clear to every successful content strategist: You cannot rely on the marketing department alone. In today’s digital landscape of corporate transparency, where consumers hold a general disdain for anything inauthentic, the old ways of communicating through corporate jargon and catchphrases simply do not work. So, what does?
The Secret to Authentic Content
The marketers in your company—your technical experts holed away in the far wing of your corporate headquarters—may not be equipped to speak as subject matter experts on the company’s products or services. Marketing professionals like you know marketing, but that doesn’t mean you know the intricacies of your business vertical in the same way your salespeople, your engineers or your leadership teams do.
If you truly want to create an authentic brand voice, you must get your entire organization on board. From senior leadership to brand new entry-level employees, every member of your team has unique insights and expertise to share. You must invest in creating a culture of collaborative content.
Over the past year, my company gothamCulture has done exactly that. Our small, rapidly growing, firm completely overhauled our strategy so that everyone in the company was required to participate, including our senior leaders. Through a focused, collaborative effort, we have begun to see tangible business results. We are now ranking in the top three search results for all of our target key phrases, and we’re seeing a growing number of qualified, inbound leads come our way.
While it may seem daunting in the beginning, the benefits to your entire company are well worth the effort. Here are the four core components that made collaborative content for us:
1. Support From the Top
In order to truly make any organizational change happen, you must get buy-in from your senior leaders. This is partly for budget purposes, because they will need to invest in the company’s content strategy. More importantly, however, your senior leadership will need to serve as the role models for the rest of your team.
An effort like this can only succeed if your CEO is actively participating through articles, videos and speaking engagements of their own. It’s also critical for them to rally your team members behind the cause and hold them accountable for content creation when necessary.
This is a simple concept that’s difficult to execute. Bringing structure to your overall content strategy takes work, especially when there are so many people participating.
You may soon realize that many of your team members have little to no writing experience. They might struggle coming up with ideas to contribute and when they do, the results sound academic or unstructured. You may get pushback from people who aren’t excited about the prospect of writing. And in the best-case scenario, if everyone on your team jumps in with both feet, you may suddenly be overwhelmed with the amount of work you are suddenly taking on.
Structuring your content strategy is critical to scaling your efforts. Here are a few things I recommend putting in place:
- A managing editor responsible for final edits on every content piece in your company will ensure consistency throughout your efforts.
- A rigid editorial and promotion calendar with clear expectations and goals must be accessible to everyone in your company.
- An ongoing repository of article ideas related to your core content key phrases for contributors to reference and find inspiration to write.
- A published content strategy, including clear reference guides for your goals, buyer personas and editorial guidelines for your company’s content.
- Clearly defined roles and responsibilities around publishing, promoting and managing engagement.
- A simple lead tracker to help illustrate the purpose and ROI behind your efforts to anyone who may not fully understand.
3. Constant Communication
This may be the most important aspect of getting buy-in from every member of your team. By communicating openly about your team’s successes, opportunities and the path forward, team members will slowly begin to focus on the bigger picture of how your content strategy is helping the business’s bottom line.
Recognition is also a big part of this. People want to be recognized for their efforts. They are likely feeling pretty proud of the content they’ve created, so take some time on a weekly basis to congratulate everyone who publishes something new, attracts a new comment, or accomplishes something surprising with their contribution.
As people begin to see your follower, subscriber, and new business growth curves over time and understand how they fit into that picture, they’ll begin to feel ownership over the outcome, motivating them even more.
4. A “What’s in it for Me?” Modality
To make a company-wide effort like this succeed in your organization, you should be prepared to answer this question a lot. “What’s in it for me?” is something your CEO will ask you in the beginning. And it’s something your new employees will ask you long after you’ve successfully put the systems in place.
For your CEO, you may have to show business development potential. For middle management, it may be more about recognition. And for the rest of your team, professional development, personal branding, thought leadership and the ability to contribute to bigger company goals all play a part.
No matter what their reasons are, you must be prepared to constantly sell your collaborative content strategy to everyone in your company. If they see the benefits, rather than just another responsibility on their plate, they are more likely to buy in, and the overall effort is far more likely to succeed.
Weaving Content Into The Fabric Of Your Culture
Your corporate culture is made up of the collective values, assumptions, and behaviors that exist at all levels of your company. Introducing new ideas and behaviors around content marketing to your existing culture will not be an easy task. People naturally resist change. They will likely challenge you. But over time, with the support from senior leadership, a rigid structure around your efforts, transparent communication, and clear benefits at all organizational levels, you can succeed.