What is content workflow? Why does it matter? How can my company streamline it? Let’s explore this critical topic from every angle.
In Search of The Flow
“What is the flow?”
In a recent episode of his Netflix show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” David Letterman posed this question to rapper Jay-Z.
Letterman was inquiring, of course, about that fundamental element of hip-hop that separates the great from the good — that virtually indefinable quality of producing a smooth, cohesive vocal delivery capable of making a listener’s head nod.
Jay took a shot at explaining the term by alluding to recognizable examples, referencing Snoop Dogg’s voice and Eminem’s cadence, but unsurprisingly struggled to put his finger on a precise definition.
When it comes to content workflow and its management, marketers can relate. Sure, you’ll find various interpretations by running a Google search, but they mostly consist of vague platitudes.
Much like a rapper’s flow, content workflow comes in many forms. You might not be able to universally define it — the nature of an effective and efficient workflow varies based on many contextual factors — but you know a good one when you come across it.
In an effort to remove some of the mystery shrouding this crucial component of any sizable marketing operation, we decided to scour the web in search of the most frequently asked content workflow questions. This is hardly scientific, but based on a bit of research, these seem to be the aspects causing most puzzlement.
In line with our goal of bringing clarity to content workflow management, we’ll do our best to fill in the blanks and tackle some of the most prevalent points of uncertainty.
The Most Frequently Asked Content Workflow Questions, Answered
Q1: What is the definition of content workflow?
Geez, putting us right on the spot like Letterman with Jay-Z, huh? Didn’t we just say it was virtually indefinable?!
Okay, that’s not entirely true. We’ve come across some broader definitions of content workflow that we like.
Robert Mills of Content Marketing Institute defines content workflow as “a set of tasks that a team needs to complete for a given client or content type — a web page, a blog post, a white paper, an email, or any other kind of content that the group needs to deliver.”
Amanda Farmer of Kapost offers a more compact content workflow definition, calling it “a sequence of processes that govern the tactical elements of your campaigns.”
Well, which is it? A set of tasks or a sequence of processes? The answer is that content workflow is both of these things. It also needs to account for the many different people and tools involved with these tasks and processes. And all of these elements must be tied to clear timelines and quality standards.
Needless to say, this can all become complicated, which is why content workflow management is such an imperative priority — especially for large companies with many different tasks, processes, people, and tools involved in their content production.
Q2: Why does content workflow matter?
Without a structured workflow that is centrally understood and followed, chaos takes over. Tasks drag on. Steps get skipped. Quality suffers.
When a repeatable workflow is in place, the result is not only a smoother and more consistent process, but also an ability to anticipate and manage problems as they inevitably arise.
In the B2C Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends 2018 report from CMI and MarketingProfs, 56% of the most successful companies rated the project management flow during their content creation process as excellent or good, compared to only 11% of the least successful.
What’s truly striking about the results of that survey, though, is that only 36% of all respondents viewed their project management flow favorably. In light of this data, it’s a pretty clear opportunity for competitive advantage in terms of efficiency and output.
Q3: Who is involved in a content workflow?
This can vary quite a bit based on the organization, the content type/format being produced, and the nature of its content processes. Here are some of the roles commonly involved with the content workflow:
- Content creator/writer
- Editor / QA
- Social media marketer
- Account manager
- Project manager
- Web administrator
Obviously, that’s a lot of different people with a lot of different specializations. The purpose of content workflow management is to get them all on the same page, working as collaboratively and seamlessly as possible.
Q4: Which workflows should be automated?
Automation can be very valuable, saving time and cutting out redundancies, but not everything can or should be left to the robots.
There is software out there that can automatically generate content. Should you use it? I’d suggest that if you plan to have humans consuming your content, you should probably have humans creating it.
As we have defined it in the past, “content marketing automation means using software to streamline as many aspects of the content marketing process as possible.” So it’s not necessarily about putting everything in the hands of algorithms and artificial intelligence. For the most part, content automation is simply about adding efficiency by implementing automated solutions to eliminate tedious manual tasks.
For instance, here are some elements of a content workflow you can easily automate without losing any of the creative human touch that makes content unique and relatable:
- Ditching spreadsheets in favor of editorial calendar software
- Consolidating processes like planning, brainstorming, and measurement in the same toolkit
- Notifications and alerts to keep team members on top of deadlines or schedule changes
- Distributing and scheduling promotional posts across various social media channels
- Scheduling and sending emails to your subscriber list
- Data analysis and segmentation
Q5: What are the common outcomes of an inefficient workflow?
Pain. Frustration. And a whole lot of waste.
These outcomes are symptomatic of a disjointed workflow, which wreaks havoc on content ROI and the bottom line. When your processes aren’t synced, each one is subject to getting bogged down and disconnected from the rest.
For example, when content production and social media promotion aren’t smoothly intertwined, the impact of both suffers. Same goes for search optimization, analytics, and oversight. Content workflow management ties everything together and eliminates snags that lower the quality of output and make contributors miserable.
Q6: Who should be in charge of managing content workflow?
Ultimately, the department manager or director is accountable for the efficiency of her unit. But we encourage everyone to take responsibility and play a role in content workflow management. It only works if everyone buys in and commits to collaborating and using the same system.
The best way to do this is through consistent transparency and communication between everyone involved. And if your organization is anything like the majority, email just doesn’t do the trick as a primary channel anymore.
Q7: What is the main cause of inefficient workflows?
Much like content strategy, content workflow management is one of those things that most companies acknowledge as an important priority, but too few actually take the time to document and implement structured workflows. The Content Marketing Benchmarks report referenced earlier shows that, while 74% of organizations claim to have a content marketing strategy, only 38% say theirs is documented.
This represents an epidemic issue in the marketing world: half-measures. Any company that wants to succeed with its content needs to fully commit to the systems and processes conducive to a sustainable engine. This is especially true for larger businesses.
Your strategy shouldn’t be a vague concept. And your workflow shouldn’t consist of scattered spreadsheets, emails and loosely defined process rules. A central solution that accounts for all of the many components of a content operation needs to be in place.
We humbly believe that our platform at DivvyHQ — custom-designed to promote best practices and conquer the chaotic complications that deter efficiency and timeliness — is a great option for any company looking to step its game up. We’d love it if you gave us a try and let us know if you agree.
What is the flow? When it comes to rapping, we’ll defer to Jay-Z. But where content workflow is concerned, we hope you’ve gained a better understanding of the basics and beyond. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help.