Content management is one of the most complex parts of a marketing operation. Attempting to encompass all the many facets of content strategy, planning, production workflow, publishing, promotion, and the tech that manages it all can quickly get overwhelming for any enterprise. Making sure it all lives in one place is even harder. However, you can get your head around these challenges by creating a content management methodology.
To explore how to create a content management methodology, we should start with the basics of content management.
What is Content Management?
Content management is the brain of content marketing. It includes the processes and technologies used for planning, developing, deploying, archiving and measuring all the content your team produces. Content management provides you a foundation to control and keep pace with all the different types of content being created and published.
Content management also aids in standardizing and bringing quality assurance among the different formats of content that an organization will produce regularly. One way to keep these different formats organized, yet also available to be viewed holistically, is with a content marketing platform (CMP). One common way companies keep things organized is by breaking different types of content formats down into buckets, such as:
- Short-form content (social media posts, SMS, snippets, etc.)
- Long-form content (articles, blog posts, eBooks and whitepapers)
- Email content (e-blasts, e-newsletters)
- Audio content (podcasts, audio blogs, etc.)
- Video content (self-explanatory)
- Website content (copy, images, landing pages, etc.)
The Essentials for a Content Management Methodology
Alongside the myriad of processes that have to be defined within a content management methodology, there are a few essential tools that will support those processes. Ideally, you would try to limit the number of tools you have to implement and adopt, but there is no one system that does everything.
Centralizing your efforts into two or three platforms that can be integrated together will help streamline workflows and deliver efficiency for your team. Here are the three primary process tools you’ll need to support a content management methodology.
A Content Planning & Scheduling Tool
For content management to work for your enterprise, a content calendar is a must-have. It offers a source of truth for every content project and it communicates what stage it’s in. It also enables transparency and accountability, as each project has a deadline and individual production tasks can be assigned to someone.
A content calendar is the ultimate tool to set your content management methodology up for success. One of the biggest hurdles to optimized content management is disorganization. You have many different resources involved in content development. How do they collaborate now? How do projects stall?
Much of this can be attributed to reactive planning and not having a space that delivers complete information. With the right content planning tools, all your users can work together to develop high-quality content your audience will appreciate.
A content calendar is a simple solution to eliminate miscommunication, missed deadlines, and roadblocks. You can organize content here as well as support cross-channel, integrated campaigns. Choose a content calendar that allows for customized configurations such as:
- Managing multiple shared and private calendars
- Ability to organize by team, region, department, and more
- Filtering by topic/category, keyword, team member, and more
- Setting up specific calendar views for different types of users (producers, stakeholders, execs)
A Production/Content Workflow Tool
Do you currently use content workflows in content management? If not, then you are missing out on a valuable tool. A content workflow is basically a checklist of all the tasks required to take a content project from idea to published/promoted. Each task is well defined with concise directives and has an assigned resource.
The tasks also have a specific timeline and may include quality thresholds, metrics, or goals. A content workflow works best when it is scalable and repeatable. Content workflows may be short or long, depending on the intricacy of the content format, topic, or requirements.
Content Storage, Publishing & Delivery
As content assets are produced, all the files that are generated obviously need to be stored somewhere. For any given asset, there may be text, images, videos or audio files that need to live in a specific place (a public or private server) to aid in your review/approval process, or for final publishing.
Over the last two decades, traditional content management systems (CMS) and digital asset management (DAM) systems have been heavily adopted to help companies store content in its many forms. Some of these platforms also include front-end website development frameworks so that companies can build their websites on top of the content database behind the scenes.
Considering the many different types of content most companies produce, it’s common that content files end up getting stored in many locations. This can significantly hinder efficiency and collaboration as many teams resort to emailing content files with revisions back and forth.
A strong content management methodology will utilize a centralized content storage hub that:
- All producers and stakeholders can access
- Includes workflow and collaborative editing capabilities
- Can be searched to retrieve past content projects and assets
- Can be integrated with upstream publishing and delivery platforms.
Steps to Creating a Content Management Methodology
Follow these steps to develop a content management methodology that’s ideal for your business.
Step One: Strategy & Scope
An organization’s content strategy will typically dictate the scope and requirements of a content management methodology, so reviewing your strategy is an obvious first step. Note the following:
- Goals & Objectives: What role does your content management process play in achieving your content-specific goals or objectives? For example: Are you trying to increase your content frequency in various channels? If so, your content management process and tools will probably need to be tuned for efficiency.
- Organizational Structure: Are you a small team that can get by with a simple methodology, or are you one of many content practitioners within a large, enterprise organization? Larger teams will naturally have more layers of complexity, making visibility and collaboration harder, thus scalable processes and centralized tools will be needed.
- Content Channels & Properties: Make note of the variety of channels and content properties you need to support. Is it your hope that all channels be organized and managed centrally, or will there be some separation across teams and channels (ex: online, offline, print, events, etc.)?
- Content Types & Formats: Among the myriad of channels and content properties, each will likely dictate certain content types/formats. Each content type may have a standard format with specific fields, content snippets, multimedia, and metadata that is required (see Design, step two). Standardization should also be a consideration of your methodology as some content types may need a rigid format where others can be more free form.
- Technology: Everything discussed thus far should be considered when making content management technology decisions. Ultimately, you’ll want to find the tools and platforms that best fit your process and content scope.
- Measurement: Although we’re in the early stage of developing a content management methodology, it’s never too early to define or remind ourselves of what needs to be measured. How will you know if your content management methodology is successful? What internal metrics might need to be tracked to get these insights?
Step Two: Design
The design process for a content management methodology typically centers around two areas: workflows and content formats. Technology will likely be integral in managing both elements, but the design process looks very different for each.
To design workflows, grab a whiteboard and the various stakeholders who will be accountable for the work to be done. For each type of content, list all steps required for production, review, approval, publishing and promotion. Assign responsibilities for each step and define where assets are to be housed along the way.
Defining all of the elements for each type of content and designing the content experience is probably the hardest and most complex part of this entire process. This exercise alone employs hundreds, if not thousands, of content strategists and user experience design (UXD) professionals across the globe.
The key here is to break down different content formats into their individual parts, label them, and create a template or “page table” that will be the standard format used going forward.
Step Three: Deployment
It’s time for rubber to meet road. The technical build out and deployment of a content management methodology will be different for each company, largely due to the technical requirements previously discussed. Smaller companies may only need basic tools for planning and workflow (ex: spin up a few Trello boards), production (MS Word or Google Docs) and publishing (WordPress, Mailchimp, Hootsuite, etc.).
Larger organizations may require a much more sophisticated stack of enterprise platforms, including (but not limited to):
- A content marketing platform for ideation, planning, workflow and collaboration (like DivvyHQ)
- A digital asset management (DAM) system for asset storage and search
- An enterprise CMS or web content management system (ex: Adobe Experience Manager, Sitecore, etc.)
- A marketing automation platform for email marketing, landing pages, etc.
- An enterprise social media management (SMM) platform (ex: Sprout, Sprinklr, Spreadfast, etc.)
Again, every company will need technology to fit their content strategy, scope and overall methodology. Implementing these systems can take time and, once implemented, getting your content producers comfortable with their day-to-day workflows is crucial.
Step Four: Evaluation and Analysis
Well…How’s it going? Unless you are blessed by the content management gods, your content management methodology will not be perfect right out of the gate. Technology will need fine tuning. Processes will need tweaking.
In the early days, you will probably need to schedule regular check-ins with your process stakeholders to identify technical issues, inefficiencies or process roadblocks. Experimentation will likely be required and, for larger organizations, it may take a year + to get your processes firing on all cylinders. Good communication and an adaptable team is the best case scenario during this phase.
Step Five: Governance
Every piece of content you produce has a shelf life. Some types of content (like emails and social posts) will organically die on their own (unless you’re a comedian or looking to run for political office). But web content, print and other forms of content will need to be audited, reviewed, maintained or retired at some point in the future.
This is where content governance comes in, and it needs to be part of your content management methodology. Executing a governance routine, like mentioned previously, will look different for every company. If your content strategy dictates that you primarily produce evergreen content and your industry, products or services don’t change all that often, then your governance practices will be minimal.
On the other hand, if you’re a financial services company producing content to educate consumers on the latest changes in federal tax policies, every piece of content you produce may need to be reviewed for accuracy every 3-6 months.
To complete this step, start high level and define your governance requirements for specific content properties and channels. Then determine the following:
- Who – Who will be responsible for reviewing and maintaining content?
- What – What tool(s) should we use to help us stay on top of maintenance?
- When – How often should content be reviewed? An audit one/year? Should each piece have it’s own maintenance date?
DivvyHQ Tip: Content managers can leverage Divvy’s maintenance date field and automatic notifications to stay on top of content governance.
Your content management methodology is crucial to the execution of your content strategy. I hope the process discussed here will be helpful as you continue to mature in this crazy content world we live in today. Just remember that with the right platform and following these steps, you should be successful in creating a methodology that works for your organization. If you’d like to see how DivvyHQ can help, schedule a one-on-one demo today.