By Clare McDermott published December 19, 2012

How to Keep Your Compelling Content Engine Fueled and Running Smoothly

compelling content engine - nelson

Amanda Nelson, Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Manager of Content

Popular social media management platform Radian6 went through a major transition when Salesforce recently acquired the business. As Manager of Content for the newly created Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Amanda Nelson helped transition the organization’s content as part of the rebrand.

Her job is to create and curate content for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud community. She manages everything from the blog and eBooks to webinars and infographics — with the help of a content team, of course.

Amanda took some time to chat with the Content Marketing Institute about her organization’s content engine and managing an international corps of writers.

CMI: What issue do you think your content solves for your audience?

Amanda: Businesses want to become social, but they don’t always know where to start. Social is such a huge opportunity, but there are so many ways a strategy can be built, and so many ways it could go wrong. What we do is create content to educate these organizations in the hope that when they are ready for social media monitoring, engagement, or publishing software, they will think of us. We want to be leaders in the social business category.

What kinds of content tactics are you using?

What we do is develop a content engine. A content engine starts with a central focus. But it could be a case study or any other piece of content that a company might have. We start with an eBook. From there, we publish the content by recycling and reusing it on multiple media:

  • We’ll read the eBook aloud and make it an audio book.
  • We’ll interview the customer for a quote in the eBook and then put that up as a video.
  • We’ll take the audio from the video and make a podcast.
  • We’ll create a presentation from the eBook with highlights.

We had one eBook called “30 Ways to Create Your Social Media Plan.” We wrote 30 blog posts detailing each piece. We create tons and tons of content from this central focus. By producing two eBooks a month, our content engine is constantly running.

What results have you gotten since you started using the “content engine”?

We’ve had significant increases — about a 300 percent year-over-year increase in our eBook shares and downloads. I believe social shares of our blog posts increased by about 150 percent. Some people prefer a video or an audio stream instead of written blog posts. We’re really exploring other media for our community and creating more content as a result of the engine, so that’s also attributed to the high increase in our shares and downloads.

What challenges have you run into?

A lot of people want to plan and curate, but at the end of the day, we need writers. We have a team of two great brand journalists that I manage. They’re always writing and always working on projects, but I sometimes have a need for writers. In that case, I’ll go out to the community and get guest bloggers. Or I will have someone co-author an eBook from the outside. Or I’ll reach out to other employees within our organization to create content. Managing our brand journalists’ time against what we need to get done is a constant challenge.

What infrastructure are you using to manage that time and your content as a whole?

David B. Thomas is my boss; he is our Senior Director of Content and Community. He created our team to marry content and community. We have people who engage behind all of our social channels. We also have a content team dedicated solely to writing. Between the two, we’re keeping our community thriving and responding to all the content that they’re generating and sharing. The folks who engage also write. At the end of the day, I have a good group of people contributing content on a weekly basis.

To manage our content, we have an editorial calendar that everyone has access to. It’s constantly updated. I make sure we have three blog posts per day at set times. People are always going in there and taking some of the time slots that are available.

We overlay our engagement calendar, our eBook calendar, blog, when we’re posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest. You can click each calendar on and off. You don’t have to see everything if you don’t want to. Execs can see it at 30,000 feet and know this is the theme and these are the top things that we’re doing. Or they can drill down to something specific — like who’s engaging at 2 o’clock.

What’s your favorite tool used to communicate with the team?

We use webcams so we can video conference because we’re actually all spread out across the country and Canada. I’ll have a 15-minute meeting with the brand journalists and we’ll talk about what’s going on for the day, what’s coming up this week — things like that. It’s so much fun to share. When you create content, you have to keep the brand in mind. But it’s always coming from that person’s unique point of view and voice. You get a lot of creative freedom.

Google Hangout is great because it’s a video and it can hold up to 10 people. There are also fun things that you can do. You can do screen share or overlay funny faces. Whoever is talking is displayed predominately so it constantly changes. It’s in real-time, easy to use and free. The hangout is public so anyone else can join. People can see that you’re hanging out. It’s very social.

What are the most exciting examples of content marketing that you’ve see outside of your own business?

David Meerman Scott’s “News-jacking”: You see what’s going on in the media and create content around it that becomes really sharable because it’s sitting where it’s hot. That’s really the point of our brand journalists. They’re constantly looking for news that is happening, quickly looking at the social media conversation with Salesforce Marketing Cloud and then sharing the analysis. Mashable or “The Wall Street Journal” may pick up the story. The whole news-jacking brand journalism is really appealing.

If you are looking for other ways brand marketers are using content marketing, check out our series of profiles and lessons learned, with people like Michael Brenner from SAP and Leslie Reiser from IBM. 

Author: Clare McDermott

Clare McDermott is the editor of Chief Content Officer magazine and owner of SoloPortfolio, a Boston-based content marketing provider for professional service firms.You can follow her @soloportfolio.

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