When I talk with inbound marketers about content creation -- specifically, how companies can create a sustainable internal content creation model -- our conversations usually go one of two ways.
The first way is an exchange of tactics we've both employed to make content creation possible in the long term. The second way is detailing how difficult, sometimes nearly impossible, it is to keep up with the content creation pace they want to live up to.
This blog post is written for those experiencing the latter.
I've found that the marketers who are most successful at sustaining a rapid pace of high quality content creation are the ones who have fostered a content culture within their organizations. If you're starting your own business, growing your marketing department, starting a job at a new company, or just trying to motivate a shift in your company's attitudes toward content creation, this blog post is going to teach you how you can create a content culture within your company.
Enable anyone to contribute.
Creating content shouldn't be reserved for just Marketing -- or even just a couple people within Marketing. It's natural to want Marketing to have a hand in the content that goes out, but that doesn't mean the entire burden needs to fall on your team's shoulders. Instead, enable anyone in your organization to contribute content, from Sales, to Services, to Development. This is great because you're getting content that highlights different perspectives and different areas of expertise, both of which make your content arsenal more well-rounded.
To make it easier for everyone to contribute, create guidelines they can follow to make it more likely their content fits your publishing standards. You can even have content specialists on your team who train those extremely interested in contributing content on the types of editorial guidelines the marketing team follows. These folks -- your marketing team's "editors," if you will -- can be the ones who brush up the content you receive so everything that's published aligns with the tone, style, and other guidelines you've established for your brand.
Encourage different content formats.
Just because other employees know they can contribute content, doesn't mean they'll feel comfortable doing so. This might stem from the misconception that they have to write like Shakespeare to get published on, say, your company blog.
Let employees contribute to your blog in ways that best suit their talents. That could mean they create a video, an infographic, a SlideShare presentation, present data they've researched, or stick with the written blog post we all know and love. For instance, we work alongside a few extremely talented visual content creators, which is why yesterday morning's blog post was actually a SlideShare presentation! Because the writer, Ryan Brown, totally rocks at creating visually compelling SlideShare presentations, why force him to write out a 1,000-word blog post when we have beautiful visual content at our fingertips that allows him to contribute to content creation?
Explain the benefit of being a published thought leader.
To create a company culture that celebrates content, it's incumbent on leaders within your organization to communicate the benefits of being a published author. Explain to employees that having content published under their name will help establish themselves as thought leaders. That's right, even you (Yes! You!) can be a thought leader! Here are a few benefits you can tell them to look forward to, the more they author and publish amazing content:
- Authoring content gets their name -- and how wicked smart they are -- visibility with important people, both inside and outside of your organization.
- Being a published thought leader helps them move upward within the company, and grow their careers.
- If they're in a Sales or customer-facing role, it helps establish credibility with leads and customers.
- The content is a built-in online portfolio they can refer to years down the read.
- Their content might lead to future opportunities, like speaking engagements, or being quoted as an expert in other publications.
Communicate (and celebrate!) the bottom-line results content drives.
While enabling and encouraging content creation will help get people started, it won't keep people going in the long term. To keep your entire company enthusiastic about the importance of contributing to content creation efforts, use numbers to communicate the impact it has on your business. Think about how much more meaningful it is to share that a blog post generated 10,000 page views, 50 inbound links, 20 new leads -- two of which are poised to close this week -- than to say, "Rachel wrote a really cool blog post last month. Good job!"
If your employees can easily see for themselves how their content is directly contributing to important company goals, like hitting Marketing's leads goal, or Sales hitting their quota, you can bet people will be much more interested in creating content. I mean, how often does someone in, say, Support get to say they had a direct hand in generating new revenue? That's a pretty good feeling.
Reward your most prolific content creators.
Some content is going to stand out among the rest -- maybe it generates an unprecedented number of leads, maybe it gets picked up by a major publication, maybe it even goes viral! Reward the content creator for their innovation and brilliant execution, so you encourage other employees to strive to create this type of content.
Reward these employees by highlighting their content and the specific results it achieved (numbers are your friends here, marketers) in a public way. "Public" could mean your next marketing team meeting, your next company meeting, or even in an internal email or newsletter. Just be sure the content creator is present, and preferably some power players in your company, too ;-)
Play into people's competitive spirit.
While fame is all well and good, sometimes a little friendly competition is all you need to get your company into the content creation spirit. For instance, let's say you're interested in getting more content about a particular subject matter on your blog to prepare for a product launch. Hold a contest to see who can write the blog post on that subject matter that gets, say, the most views, and reward the winner with a gift certificate. With a friendly competition like this, you're winning on all fronts. You'll get a higher volume of content, from a diverse set of people, on a subject matter that aligns with your goals; employees will get their name in flashing lights, some more thought leadership attached to their name, and maybe, a little moolah, too. In fact, we've seen this tactic work well in our favor to encourage contributions to this very blog!
Lead by example.
Finally, remember that your company culture comes from the top down. If you want to foster a culture that encourages content creation, that needs to come from the top down, too. Employees will model executives' behavior. So if the CMO isn't blogging, some people might still blog; but if the CMO does create content on a regular basis, can you imagine how deep any other employee would have to dig to come up with the excuse for not also contributing? Pretty darn deep, I imagine.
How do you foster a culture of content creators in your company?
Image credit: Kazarelth