Why content collaboration matters and how to make a go of it

Why content collaboration matters and how to make a go of it

5 minute read

Why content collaboration matters and how to make a go of it

5 minute read

Why content collaboration matters and how to make a go of it

Prafull Sharma

Founder of LeadsPanda
It takes a village to consistently produce high-impact content that drives business results.

Table of contents

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Unfortunately, for most businesses, the effectiveness of their marketing strategies is hurt by a silo mentality.

Investopedia defines silo mentality as “the unwillingness to share information or knowledge between employees or across different departments within a company.”

The detrimental effects of this mindset on businesses have been widely studied and discussed for the past four decades—and it's worsened as more companies have shifted to a hybrid or fully remote working model.

It's no shock that a silo mentality can lead to reduced efficiency and productivity overall, lower morale, and poor company culture. So what’s the alternative? Collaboration.

What is content collaboration?

Content collaboration is working with others—whether inside or outside of your organization—to produce content. It involves sharing information or knowledge rather than withholding it—as with the silo mentality. This ensures that all team members and departments are:

  1. On the same page about messaging and other important factors
  2. Allowed to give creative and strategic input

Real-time content collaboration tools are often used to facilitate communication, streamline workflows, and make project management less complicated...without having to bounce back and forth between Gmail, Google Drive, Dropbox, and a million other tools to share files or gather and implement feedback.    

GatherContent Workflow and Assignee Features
Create content workflows, get stakeholders involved, and collaborate in real-time with GatherContent

For example, GatherContent provides a central workspace where all stakeholders can see content that’s upcoming or in production, provide feedback on it, revisit previous versions of docs, and so on. Plus, it has functionality for assigning reviewers, which can streamline getting approvals and input from other departments such as legal.

In any case, what are the benefits of content collaboration?

Why is content collaboration important?

Among the most significant challenges content marketers face due to lack of collaboration are:

  • Poor integration of marketing efforts and requirements across departments and sub-brands
  • Lack of consistent marketing messages
  • The never-ending need to convince stakeholders about the benefits of content production and distribution
  • Corporate messaging that’s not aligned with marketing audiences

So, naturally, the presence of willing collaboration in an organization eliminates or at least reduces such challenges. However, fostering team collaboration to create a unified, efficient content marketing system doesn’t happen overnight. It takes purposeful, concrete, and specific steps.

We’ve put together a framework to help you achieve a more collaborative culture for more effective marketing initiatives to guide you through the process. We call this the G.A.T.H.E.R. approach.

G—Goals integration

The performance of most business functions is assessed with a set of KPIs linked to goals. Here are a few examples:

  • Sales: Number of new sales, lifetime customer value
  • Customer service: Return %, refund %, customer satisfaction %
  • Brand marketing: Brand awareness, brand retention, brand preference rate

It may not be obvious at first, but almost all of these goals can be linked to content. For instance, customer satisfaction may seem unrelated, but having robust product knowledge content on your site and other marketing channels can increase customer satisfaction.

That said, the key to kickstarting collaboration across your organization’s different departments is integrating these goals into your content strategy.

Good to Know: Grab GatherContent’s free ebook for an explanation of six proven methods for collaboratively prioritizing content.

For some departments, they can be combined in a single marketing funnel. For instance, the sales goals of your on-site/on-ground sales teams can be integrated into your lead generation goals as sales acquisition objectives since this is the logical next step after lead generation.

Integrating goals and finding the common denominator across seemingly unrelated areas brings everyone on the same page to appreciate the value of content. It also creates the right environment for collaboration.

A—Authorship sharing

Brand-authored content is a staple in the content marketer's playbook. Giving subject matter experts an opportunity to contribute is invaluable. It develops a higher level of ownership, which gives rise to more stakeholders who are invested in the success of your marketing initiatives. And it addresses the consistent and familiar challenge of generating and validating content ideas.

This is not to say that you take the Wikipedia approach and allow several writers and editors to work on one article simultaneously. You risk losing control of your content creation process and, more importantly, content quality with too many cooks in the kitchen at once.

When you create your content calendar, be clear that you intend to rotate the authorship through different members of your core content team, as well as your organization’s departments.

T—Technology maximization

It has led to funnel automation, granular customer segmentation, and high-level sales retargeting—and yes, to better content planning, creation, and management. Technology can drive your content collaboration ahead of where it is today.

That said, not all content collaboration platforms are created equal. You should look for essential features such as autosave, new changes notifications, version history, version control, commenting, user tagging, and scalable storage, just to name a few.

GatherContent has these features and more, including templates for different content types to simplify project management and collaboration.

Customizable Content Templates in GatherContent
Maintain consistent formats for different types of content with GatherContent’s customizable templates

Of course, as far as document management goes, file storage and secure file sharing are also essential.  

Look at collaboration technologies the same way you look at content management systems, which according to content marketer Deane Barker, should be viewed as ecosystems.

Barker explained in an interview with GatherContent.

"Ecosystems matter. You’re not just buying a CMS; you’re buying into a community. Before you buy, look for documentation, look for discussion, and look for a partner network. The ecosystem is the soft place to land when things go wrong."
Deane Barker
Senior Director of Content Management at Spiserver

H—Hybrid content development

The hybrid content development model is another tactic you can explore for improving collaboration. Hybrid content development or content organization structure combines the best of both worlds—the autonomy of a decentralized model and the streamlined benefits of a centralized approach.

To understand what a hybrid content collaboration model is, let’s take a look at the definitions of rebel and centralized content organization approaches, as described by Content Marketing Institute:

  • Rebel: “A decentralized model where content teams work independently with limited coordination across teams.” For example, an organization may have separate teams producing content for different audiences. This is not in itself a bad thing. However, without some level of collaboration across those teams, the brand messaging and voice could lack continuity, limiting their overall effectiveness. Content production would likely also be more costly since—instead of sharing information, knowledge, and reusable assets—each marketing team would have to develop each piece of content from the ground up.
  • Centralized: “A single team works across business units to receive and deliver requirements related to content creation.” In her article on centralized marketing, Ashley Budd, Director of Digital Marketing for Cornell University’s Alumni Affairs and Development provided a good example of this approach. She mentioned that the university curates digital offers from all of its colleges and units to make them available to alumni, parents, donors, and friends.  
Three content collaboration models: Decentralized (rebel), hybrid, and centralized.
Three content collaboration models: Decentralized (rebel), hybrid, and centralized.

A hybrid model, then, gives the different departments in your organization a generous amount of leeway in influencing your overall content strategy given their respective goals. At the same time, it frames this autonomy within specific parameters to ensure that all efforts align with your overall direction. It allows everyone to contribute while following clear guidelines and reinforcing a single narrative across all content.

E—External content collaboration opportunities

While discussions on improving content collaboration primarily center on internal practices, marketers shouldn’t overlook external collaborations either.

A low-hanging fruit when it comes to external content partnerships is guest blogging (like what you’re reading now). But aside from that, there are several other channels you can explore to open a multitude of external content collaboration opportunities for your company or brand.

For example, you can:

  • Use #journorequest on Twitter to search for journalists, publications, bloggers, and other content creators who are looking for experts or subjects to feature in the content pieces they’re currently working on
  • Use tools like HARO and Help a B2B Writer. As marketer Reno Lovison points out, “It’s not possible for any individual or company to be an expert on all aspects of their subject area. It makes sense to reach out to others for further insight or corroboration of your conclusions or point-of-view. In an ideal collaboration, both parties agree to promote the product to their respective followers as a way to extend the message further.”
  • Sponsorship and sponsoring. You can support—financial or otherwise—adjacent but non-competitive organizations engaged in high-quality content production. Or you could also be sponsored. In either case, your visibility and credibility would receive a boost.
  • Connect with influencers. Influential individuals whose audiences overlap with yours can be an effective way to extend your organization’s reach and quickly gain the trust of your expanded audience.
  • Create content or co-market with complementary companies or organizations. For instance, Richard Lubicky of RealPeopleSearch said: “We often opt for co-marketing with e-books. I claim it as an effective collaborative medium for content marketers because it can generate many results. More specifically, an ebook doesn't put you in competition with your external partner organizations; rather, it offers a complementary solution for a shared audience. That way, everyone wins, and you keep the originality point intact.

R—Results reporting

The final piece of the G.A.T.H.E.R. framework for better collaboration is reporting the results your content has achieved. This must be done within the context of your overall marketing goals and the objectives of the different departments in your organization.

If your peers and colleagues have invested time and resources into planning, executing, and managing your company’s content, make it your mission to show them the fruits of their hard labor. There’s an adage that positive results are addictive. The more positive results you report, the more motivated they will be to continue contributing—a fuel that keeps the flame of collaboration burning.

Time to G.A.T.H.E.R. your team and get to work

Sustained, high-impact, results-driven content marketing is extremely difficult if it rests on the shoulders of one team member or one department. In such a highly competitive, creative, and strategic endeavor, where a lot can be gained if it’s done right, the results you achieve are directly proportional to the level of collaboration in your organization.

We hope that this G.A.T.H.E.R. approach—and GatherContent’s powerful collaboration features—helps you jumpstart a more synergistic approach to content creation within your organization.

Good to Know: Grab GatherContent’s free ebook for an explanation of six proven methods for collaboratively prioritizing content.

Unfortunately, for most businesses, the effectiveness of their marketing strategies is hurt by a silo mentality.

Investopedia defines silo mentality as “the unwillingness to share information or knowledge between employees or across different departments within a company.”

The detrimental effects of this mindset on businesses have been widely studied and discussed for the past four decades—and it's worsened as more companies have shifted to a hybrid or fully remote working model.

It's no shock that a silo mentality can lead to reduced efficiency and productivity overall, lower morale, and poor company culture. So what’s the alternative? Collaboration.

What is content collaboration?

Content collaboration is working with others—whether inside or outside of your organization—to produce content. It involves sharing information or knowledge rather than withholding it—as with the silo mentality. This ensures that all team members and departments are:

  1. On the same page about messaging and other important factors
  2. Allowed to give creative and strategic input

Real-time content collaboration tools are often used to facilitate communication, streamline workflows, and make project management less complicated...without having to bounce back and forth between Gmail, Google Drive, Dropbox, and a million other tools to share files or gather and implement feedback.    

GatherContent Workflow and Assignee Features
Create content workflows, get stakeholders involved, and collaborate in real-time with GatherContent

For example, GatherContent provides a central workspace where all stakeholders can see content that’s upcoming or in production, provide feedback on it, revisit previous versions of docs, and so on. Plus, it has functionality for assigning reviewers, which can streamline getting approvals and input from other departments such as legal.

In any case, what are the benefits of content collaboration?

Why is content collaboration important?

Among the most significant challenges content marketers face due to lack of collaboration are:

  • Poor integration of marketing efforts and requirements across departments and sub-brands
  • Lack of consistent marketing messages
  • The never-ending need to convince stakeholders about the benefits of content production and distribution
  • Corporate messaging that’s not aligned with marketing audiences

So, naturally, the presence of willing collaboration in an organization eliminates or at least reduces such challenges. However, fostering team collaboration to create a unified, efficient content marketing system doesn’t happen overnight. It takes purposeful, concrete, and specific steps.

We’ve put together a framework to help you achieve a more collaborative culture for more effective marketing initiatives to guide you through the process. We call this the G.A.T.H.E.R. approach.

G—Goals integration

The performance of most business functions is assessed with a set of KPIs linked to goals. Here are a few examples:

  • Sales: Number of new sales, lifetime customer value
  • Customer service: Return %, refund %, customer satisfaction %
  • Brand marketing: Brand awareness, brand retention, brand preference rate

It may not be obvious at first, but almost all of these goals can be linked to content. For instance, customer satisfaction may seem unrelated, but having robust product knowledge content on your site and other marketing channels can increase customer satisfaction.

That said, the key to kickstarting collaboration across your organization’s different departments is integrating these goals into your content strategy.

Good to Know: Grab GatherContent’s free ebook for an explanation of six proven methods for collaboratively prioritizing content.

For some departments, they can be combined in a single marketing funnel. For instance, the sales goals of your on-site/on-ground sales teams can be integrated into your lead generation goals as sales acquisition objectives since this is the logical next step after lead generation.

Integrating goals and finding the common denominator across seemingly unrelated areas brings everyone on the same page to appreciate the value of content. It also creates the right environment for collaboration.

A—Authorship sharing

Brand-authored content is a staple in the content marketer's playbook. Giving subject matter experts an opportunity to contribute is invaluable. It develops a higher level of ownership, which gives rise to more stakeholders who are invested in the success of your marketing initiatives. And it addresses the consistent and familiar challenge of generating and validating content ideas.

This is not to say that you take the Wikipedia approach and allow several writers and editors to work on one article simultaneously. You risk losing control of your content creation process and, more importantly, content quality with too many cooks in the kitchen at once.

When you create your content calendar, be clear that you intend to rotate the authorship through different members of your core content team, as well as your organization’s departments.

T—Technology maximization

It has led to funnel automation, granular customer segmentation, and high-level sales retargeting—and yes, to better content planning, creation, and management. Technology can drive your content collaboration ahead of where it is today.

That said, not all content collaboration platforms are created equal. You should look for essential features such as autosave, new changes notifications, version history, version control, commenting, user tagging, and scalable storage, just to name a few.

GatherContent has these features and more, including templates for different content types to simplify project management and collaboration.

Customizable Content Templates in GatherContent
Maintain consistent formats for different types of content with GatherContent’s customizable templates

Of course, as far as document management goes, file storage and secure file sharing are also essential.  

Look at collaboration technologies the same way you look at content management systems, which according to content marketer Deane Barker, should be viewed as ecosystems.

Barker explained in an interview with GatherContent.

"Ecosystems matter. You’re not just buying a CMS; you’re buying into a community. Before you buy, look for documentation, look for discussion, and look for a partner network. The ecosystem is the soft place to land when things go wrong."
Deane Barker
Senior Director of Content Management at Spiserver

H—Hybrid content development

The hybrid content development model is another tactic you can explore for improving collaboration. Hybrid content development or content organization structure combines the best of both worlds—the autonomy of a decentralized model and the streamlined benefits of a centralized approach.

To understand what a hybrid content collaboration model is, let’s take a look at the definitions of rebel and centralized content organization approaches, as described by Content Marketing Institute:

  • Rebel: “A decentralized model where content teams work independently with limited coordination across teams.” For example, an organization may have separate teams producing content for different audiences. This is not in itself a bad thing. However, without some level of collaboration across those teams, the brand messaging and voice could lack continuity, limiting their overall effectiveness. Content production would likely also be more costly since—instead of sharing information, knowledge, and reusable assets—each marketing team would have to develop each piece of content from the ground up.
  • Centralized: “A single team works across business units to receive and deliver requirements related to content creation.” In her article on centralized marketing, Ashley Budd, Director of Digital Marketing for Cornell University’s Alumni Affairs and Development provided a good example of this approach. She mentioned that the university curates digital offers from all of its colleges and units to make them available to alumni, parents, donors, and friends.  
Three content collaboration models: Decentralized (rebel), hybrid, and centralized.
Three content collaboration models: Decentralized (rebel), hybrid, and centralized.

A hybrid model, then, gives the different departments in your organization a generous amount of leeway in influencing your overall content strategy given their respective goals. At the same time, it frames this autonomy within specific parameters to ensure that all efforts align with your overall direction. It allows everyone to contribute while following clear guidelines and reinforcing a single narrative across all content.

E—External content collaboration opportunities

While discussions on improving content collaboration primarily center on internal practices, marketers shouldn’t overlook external collaborations either.

A low-hanging fruit when it comes to external content partnerships is guest blogging (like what you’re reading now). But aside from that, there are several other channels you can explore to open a multitude of external content collaboration opportunities for your company or brand.

For example, you can:

  • Use #journorequest on Twitter to search for journalists, publications, bloggers, and other content creators who are looking for experts or subjects to feature in the content pieces they’re currently working on
  • Use tools like HARO and Help a B2B Writer. As marketer Reno Lovison points out, “It’s not possible for any individual or company to be an expert on all aspects of their subject area. It makes sense to reach out to others for further insight or corroboration of your conclusions or point-of-view. In an ideal collaboration, both parties agree to promote the product to their respective followers as a way to extend the message further.”
  • Sponsorship and sponsoring. You can support—financial or otherwise—adjacent but non-competitive organizations engaged in high-quality content production. Or you could also be sponsored. In either case, your visibility and credibility would receive a boost.
  • Connect with influencers. Influential individuals whose audiences overlap with yours can be an effective way to extend your organization’s reach and quickly gain the trust of your expanded audience.
  • Create content or co-market with complementary companies or organizations. For instance, Richard Lubicky of RealPeopleSearch said: “We often opt for co-marketing with e-books. I claim it as an effective collaborative medium for content marketers because it can generate many results. More specifically, an ebook doesn't put you in competition with your external partner organizations; rather, it offers a complementary solution for a shared audience. That way, everyone wins, and you keep the originality point intact.

R—Results reporting

The final piece of the G.A.T.H.E.R. framework for better collaboration is reporting the results your content has achieved. This must be done within the context of your overall marketing goals and the objectives of the different departments in your organization.

If your peers and colleagues have invested time and resources into planning, executing, and managing your company’s content, make it your mission to show them the fruits of their hard labor. There’s an adage that positive results are addictive. The more positive results you report, the more motivated they will be to continue contributing—a fuel that keeps the flame of collaboration burning.

Time to G.A.T.H.E.R. your team and get to work

Sustained, high-impact, results-driven content marketing is extremely difficult if it rests on the shoulders of one team member or one department. In such a highly competitive, creative, and strategic endeavor, where a lot can be gained if it’s done right, the results you achieve are directly proportional to the level of collaboration in your organization.

We hope that this G.A.T.H.E.R. approach—and GatherContent’s powerful collaboration features—helps you jumpstart a more synergistic approach to content creation within your organization.

Good to Know: Grab GatherContent’s free ebook for an explanation of six proven methods for collaboratively prioritizing content.

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About the author

Prafull Sharma

Prafull Sharma is the Founder of content marketing agency LeadsPanda. He shares tips to 2x your content marketing results on the LeadsPanda blog. Connect with him on twitter @prafullsha.

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