Content Collaboration Trends for 2021

Collaboration, generally defined as two or more people working together to achieve the same goal, is no trend. Research suggests that collaboration started with our earliest human ancestors, and that collaboration may be the biggest reason why humans have the most complex brains in the animal kingdom – our brains evolved so that we could handle social situations which require us to cooperate with each other.

One social situation that requires collaboration is conflict. Turns out our ape-like ancestors began working together as a group, often sacrificing themselves for the benefit of the whole, to emerge victorious in conflict with neighboring groups. This, researchers say, is what drove both our human tendency to cooperate and the increased intelligence with which to do so.

And although the stakes aren’t as drastic, when it comes down to it, conflict with other groups (competition) remains the biggest driver of collaboration for content marketing teams, too.

Marketers have always relied on collaboration. But now that nearly every company competes for attention on the web, content collaboration (or lack thereof) has quickly become a prime differentiator.

Get it right, and you have a “sum is greater” dynamic that fosters strategic alignment, productive scrutiny, and — ultimately — highly satisfying brand experiences. Get it wrong, and your content program runs at partial capacity while the competition gradually makes away with your market share. This environment makes content collaboration a critical area of focus for modern content leaders.

How are companies positioning themselves to collaborate better than the competition? Here are three content collaboration trends to keep an eye on with the new year upon us.

Content Strategy and Content Planning Are Complementary, and Equally Important

Year after year, we’ve been lectured about the importance of having a documented content strategy — for good reason. The 2018 version of CMI’s and MarketingProfs’ annual B2B content marketing report revealed that, among the most successful content teams, 62% have a documented strategy. Among the least successful, only 16% have a documented strategy, mirroring results from previous years.

While this oft-cited statistic has done much to promote the need for content strategy (with little effect, one could argue), the data has been misconstrued by marketers who take it to mean that documenting their content strategy will be the difference-maker. They’re partially right. The documented strategy will make a difference, but content strategy alone can only take you so far. There’s a difference between content planning and content strategy. And when methodical, ongoing planning is absent, even the smartest strategies are relegated to pipe dreams.

Because of this, teams are beginning to take their content planning meetings more seriously. Our Content Planning Report revealed that the percentage of teams who do not hold regular content planning meetings dropped from 29% in 2017 to 25% in 2018. Nearly two-thirds of marketers now meet either weekly or monthly for content planning purposes.

If content strategy sets the course and defines the destination, then content planning is the regular calibrating, refueling and redirecting that must take place if a content marketing team is to complete an arduous journey filled with unknowns. Anyone can document their desire to land on the moon. It’s the ‘getting there’ part, the planning part, that makes the moonshot possible. If your strategic destination continues to elude you, try this five-step plan for creating structured content planning sessions.

The Need to Create Personalized Content Is Testing Our Collaborative Mettle

Our Content Planning Report also revealed the biggest collaborative barrier by a longshot: we are too dang busy.

What are we so busy with that we can’t collaborate? It appears we’re allotting a large portion of our time to content creation. Adobe’s State of Creative and Marketing Collaboration Survey revealed that we’re investing, on average, 17 hours to create short-form content, 27 hours to create long-form content and 12 days to take a single piece of content to market.

There’s little question that personalization requires greater teamwork and technical proficiency than content that’s not personalized, and it shows in the time it takes teams to create content today.

So the question becomes, how can marketing teams improve their content personalization efficacy? First, it’s a good idea to understand where you’re best positioned to deliver personalized content experiences and where you need to improve. In describing his four key elements of content personalization, Stephen Yu introduces the following chart to serve as a checklist of sorts for both “reactionary” and “planned” personalization.

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into personalization, much of it technical, which brings us to our third content collaboration trend.

More Companies Are Turning to Technology to Solve Collaboration Challenges

Let’s face it: most content personalization is reliant on technology. If personalization doesn’t require technology, it’s probably not scalable.

Marketing leaders have responded by investing in technology, particularly in the realm of “data-driven marketing,” which today accounts for about one-fifth of marketing budgets. It’s a necessary investment but it’s not necessarily enough. Data and analytics merely make personalization possible. To do it effectively, time and again, marketers need to better incorporate the technical components of personalization into their content planning and content workflow.

I’d argue that the most underrated elements of Yu’s content personalization graphic (from the previous section) are the two arrows at the center showing circular movement. To me, these arrows should be labeled “content planning and collaboration platform.” If marketing leaders want to make the most of their data-driven marketing investments, they’ll want to ensure that the right people are taking advantage of technology and data at the right time. That simply can’t happen without a proper platform for content planning and collaboration which incorporates the technological infrastructure into iterative workflows.

Collaborative tools don’t just encourage more frequent interactions, they also tend to make them more productive. According to McKinsey, knowledge workers – who spend an average of 14% of their time communicating and collaborating internally, a figure that’s likely higher for marketers – were able to raise the productivity of each interaction by as much as 20 to 25% when they improved internal collaboration through social tools.

As for finding the right content planning and collaboration platform for your team, you’ve got plenty of options. So many, in fact, that you shouldn’t settle until you find a tool that’s aptly suited to meet your team’s creative and collaborative needs. To that end, here’s a guide on what to look for in a content planning tool and here’s why content leaders might be wise to pass on project management tools in favor of an editorial calendar solution.

Looking to kick the tires on a solution that can potentially solve your content collaboration challenges? We’re here to help you figure out if DivvyHQ represents the right fit for your content marketing team. Start your two week trial to see how well our platform can handle the specific content collaboration challenges your team is trying to solve.