Imagine being able to produce content that meets user needs and business goals. Every day.
With efficient content operations, your organisation will have a repeatable process for creating effective content.
While big redesign projects or digital transformation initiatives are valuable and can result in positive change, content operations is concerned with how you create and maintain effective content on a daily basis.
A content operation is the infrastructure and processes that are required to create content across an organisation.
It’s not the same as content strategy, because it assumes you already have a plan to execute on. And it’s not the same as content management or content marketing because, in our opinion, its span is far wider than the realm of a CMS or publishing tools.
Content operations is concerned with everything between content strategy and content management”, and therefore “is the “glue” between the (1) plan for content, and (2) the content management system in which it’s managed and delivered.
Process, infrastructure, and probably some human beings. What could possibly go wrong?
The first challenge often involves breaking down silos by introducing shared workflows and standardised tools for content production. The outcome of this change should be a reduction in the technical and human friction that can hold back your organisation from producing effective content.
Content operations vary massively from organisation to organisation, but there are some common tools, processes and challenges which we’ll break down here. Hopefully this is useful in your organisation’s mission to produce content that meets user needs and business goals.
A clearly defined workflow and quality assurance process are essential to ensure quality is maintained throughout the content lifecycle.
The need to reactively create content based on an unforeseen event is ever more common. Audiences expect your services to respond quickly, digitally. Meet expectations by creating and delivering content without human or technical delays.
Audiences expect content to exist for all of your products and services, across multiple channels. A governance process to create, deliver, and maintain this growing volume of information is essential.
It’s critical to make sure content adheres to evolving laws, regulations and standards being imposed on businesses. From GDPR to CMA, and many acronyms in-between.
To get effective content for your audience, everyone in your organisation needs to be able to communicate and distribute content to where it’s needed. This could be a researcher in your university, a doctor in the field, or a subject matter expert on feline behaviour.
We’re not sure if anyone in the world has a full house here, but having a few of these processes and tools can really help. It’s probably best to make a small effort on each of them and iteratively improve over time, versus going really deep on a single thing.
Content governance is the system, a set of guidelines, that determines how an organisation’s content gets created and published. At its most basic level, it can help you avoid getting sued or embarrassed, or both.
It’s essential for everyone to be clear on their roles and responsibilities. We recently wrote a free guide on establishing your content production “hats”.
Content production workflows can be as simple as a series of steps a single piece of content has to go through in order to be produced. You would likely tie steps to roles or teams, and have certain rules for them.
A small effort around defining the types of content your organisation produces, and the rules and structures they need to adhere to can save you a tonne of pain down the line. Content modelling is a good starting point.
Creating a content style guide for your authors will ensure content is consistent and authentic. It’s important your content is created with the appropriate voice and tone and follows any styles and formatting rules for your brand or organisation.
Without well defined goals, or tools for measuring the impact of your work, it’s impossible to know whether your content is having an impact.
The best way to make progress on some of these processes is often to adopt a bit of a guerrilla mentality: staying under the radar and being comfortable working with little resources. In terms of getting them adopted by your team or stakeholders, you’re usually better off to show them something in practice and highlight the value it offers (time saved, quality increased), rather than sit them down and explain the theory. Show don’t tell.
As well as these softer processes, there is a requirement for some solid infrastructure in order to create, maintain, and measure content across multiple teams.
It’s worth noting that there are two slightly opposing schools of thought on content infrastructure. Those choosing to adopt an all-in-one platform for content operations, or those using a stack of different integrated services.
The more traditional approach is the adoption of a single monolithic platform for content operations, sometimes labelled as or bundled into a ‘digital experience platform’. This is really just an evolution of the typical CMS.
A slightly newer approach to infrastructure which is rapidly growing in popularity due to its increased flexibility, is the use of multiple interconnected services. This would involve having a few different tools which specialise in different parts of your content operations process. For example, authoring, publishing, and analytics would be three separate but integrated tools.
Whatever route you take, you’ll need to tick off of the following components:
As mentioned above, there are many products out there that offer to cover a few of these bases.
People can be challenging. Groups of people can be more challenging.
An undoubtably fluffy component, but worth highlighting – you need to be able to collaborate. Really, you need to be able to have multiple teams collaborating across your organisation, with shared goals. We recently collaborated with Ellen de Vries to publish a book on this subject.
When more than a few people are involved, change isn’t easy. It’s often most attainable to establish some of the principles and practices within existing digital transformation initiatives. Bolting on some of these improvements under the guise of content marketing, or strategy, or as part of a digital first objective can make their business value much more apparent.
GatherContent is the best possible means to getting everyone in your organisation creating effective content. We are used as an essential part of a content operations infrastructure, delivering;
Since all of our functionality is available on a public API, we can be connected seamlessly to your publishing and analytics tools. Giving you everything you need to break down silos, and get even the least technical people in your organisation creating neatly structured content in a simple workflow. Sign up for a free trial and take a look.
Being aware that many of the challenges with content exist out-with the tools themselves, we also publish a lot of educational content on the more human side of content operations. Check out our blog or resources to learn more.