There’s a lot of pressure on content creators and teams to create content faster. They need to prove the effectiveness of that content through meeting business goals and user needs. It's essential to establish and maintain accountability in content creation so that any issues can be resolved quickly.
The symptoms of these challenges are that content creation can soon descend into chaos. Deadlines can get pushed back and content doesn’t get finished. There's also a rush to get content done to hit a launch or completion date, which compromises quality and effectiveness.
A lack of accountability in content creation can be a catalyst for these challenges. Remember, every word represents your brand. Upholding proper accountability can help to ensure everyone’s aligned around a consistent vocabulary, shared meaning for the content, and collaborative process needed to create and deliver content.
Accountability isn’t a blame game. It’s a case of ensuring there are clear roles and responsibilities across your content operations in order to scale and have confidence when creating content. Here are 6 tips on how you can establish and maintain accountability in your content process:
Spend time getting clear and structured roles and responsibilities in place to deliver your content strategy. What are the essential roles? Who makes the decisions and approves work? Who takes ownership? When it comes to signing off content, people often have different ideas about who should be reviewing the content and what it needs. It’s common to hear things like:
To avoid confusion and see who is accountable you need a bigger picture of roles. People need to work together, maintaining solid working relationships. You might have copywriters, senior editors, subject matter experts, and business owners. The level of detail and clarity you need when defining those roles is important too. What exactly does each person need to do? Does a reviewer review for spelling and grammar? Brand style? Accuracy? Consistency in formatting? Design a content workflow to tie all of these roles together.
Content creators need to understand content needs, what audience they are writing for, and what the best formats and channels are to reach them. It takes a lot of time, effort and people to create effective content. There are many layers in the planning and development process. To help with this process, create a style guide. This will ensure:
Many businesses create a style guide only to find that people aren’t using it. Make sure your style guide is clear and succinct, and communicate the importance of it to the whole team. Check out Mailchimp’s style guide for a good example of what you should be aiming for.
Pair writing is a common practice during the content creation process. Instead of sending versions back and forth, sitting down together to collaborate in real-time can increase accountability. You can bounce ideas off each other, and switch roles between writing and feedback. Pair writing keeps the process simple and avoids the ‘too many cooks’ issue, whilst enabling you to hold each other accountable for the ideas and decisions you come to. This can also be useful when working writers are working with subject matter experts. Both have very different skill-sets but each can have their say and work collaboratively to come to an agreement about what to include, and how to say it.
As the number of people and moving parts involved in creating content grows, the spreadsheet holding your entire workflow together often falls into disrepair. Version control is also an issue for many businesses, and it’s easy to get confused.Many businesses also find that employees are working in silos, which can be expensive. On average, employees spend 28 hours a week searching for the right information within their company. Accountability is a product of transparency. When your data is out of date and there’s no visibility. It becomes very difficult to even understand which pieces are being worked on and edited, let alone whether they’re on schedule.It's not about blaming people, but rather bringing everyone together, ensuring you don't waste time, money or resources. GatherContent is a solution to these problems and helps you to keep all content in one place, keep everyone in the loop and communicate effectively and efficiently. Check to make sure your technology for content operations are fit for purpose.
Accountability for hours put into content creation can sometimes be difficult. Content is varying in length and the number of hours it takes to produce. It’s not a word any of us like to hear, but deadlines are really important. Make sure you apply strict deadlines and review dates. This ensures content isn’t taking longer than it should to plan, create and publish, and that quality isn’t sacrificed. When it comes to measuring just how much effort and time a piece of content will take, you need to take into account your writers, the number of content items and the time you have to deliver it. Check out our formula to estimate content effort, which will keep you on track for budgets and timeframes.
Many businesses see disappointing results from content because they aren’t monitoring and measuring it properly, and they aren’t learning from successes and failures. Content creation is an iterative process and needs continuous experimentation and tweaking to determine what works for different audiences. Setting meaningful, SMART goals from the outset with internal and external stakeholders. SMART goals are:
Discuss the goals of a piece of content and then measure success after it’s created and launched, revisiting goals often. Make your content data-driven and think about things such as the number of downloads/views and number of leads and conversions generated.This context can help you determine what is working, what is not, and what to change, which will help inform future content creation and help you plan more confidently.
Having proper accountability for content ensures:
To hit these targets, you need a proper content workflow that can give you clarity around how content is progressing, well-defined milestones and clear assignments and due dates.
Paige is an English Literature and Media graduate from Newcastle University, and over the last three years has built up a career in SEO-driven copywriting for tech companies. She has written for Microsoft, Symantec and LinkedIn, as well as other SaaS companies and IT consulting firms. With an audience-focused approach to content, Paige handles the lifecycle from creation through to measurement, supporting businesses with their content operations.