Like many others, I’ve faced challenges when it comes to content marketing, but one of the most frustrating was getting my colleagues on board with content creation. No matter how much we discussed the importance of their input, it was rarely smooth sailing for one reason or another.
Fortunately, that changed. It’s taken several years, but I now feel confident that I have an almost foolproof method of ensuring colleagues not only get on board with the strategy, but also become key contributors who truly want to create content. These five points (used together or individually) create the environment in which in-house success is achieved.
1. Don’t force people to be involved.
Not everyone can effectively transfer thoughts from their head into a document. Until I realized this, I decided who should be involved in content production based on their role within the organization. I didn’t take into account whether they could actually produce content – or even whether they wanted to produce it.
When people don’t want to produce content or find it to be a struggle, they’re instantly going to consider it a chore – doing it reluctantly, leaving it until the last minute, or creating something that isn’t what was intended. They are likely to produce content that is unsuitable for publishing.
Instead, you need to have discussions with your team to identify who can – and wants to – produce content. Talk to potential contributors either in groups or individually to explain the importance of content marketing, what you are looking to achieve, the type of content to be produced, and how they can play a role. Then ask who wants to help. By taking this passive approach to signing up content creators, you’ll find people who are willing to be involved and are more likely to produce valuable content.
2. Understand you have colleagues who can write effectively.
Don’t limit your conversations with potential content creators to people whose roles naturally lend themselves to writing. When I started as an SEO specialist, I developed the content marketing strategy under the impression that I and the brand and communications manager would create the vast majority of the content. However, after some general discussions unrelated to the strategy, it became apparent that we have a number of people in-house who have a wealth of information to share.
Never assume colleagues who aren’t officially on your content marketing team won’t, can’t, or don’t want to write. You may not always have experienced writers queuing up to be involved, but you may find at least one or two contributors who can be coached and can produce content regularly outside of their daily roles.
3. Don’t ask for complete blog posts.
I’ve worked within organizations whose staff possessed a vast amount of knowledge to share, but simply didn’t have the time to produce a completed post by assigned deadlines. After chatting with the contributors who were finding content creation difficult, I discovered that developing the key messaging for the content wasn’t the issue. The problem was finding the time to take the key messaging and turn it into a full-fledged blog post.
So I stopped asking for complete blog posts. Sure, I had to be more involved in the creation of the content, as I only received 200 words of notes or bullet points, but it was like my past ghostwriting work. I took their list of points, produced the content in full, and then sent it back for approval before it went live.
Contributors were happier, as it was much quicker and easier to get down their initial thoughts than it was to produce a complete blog post. We received more content regularly, and it didn’t affect the end result because more often than not I already had to edit posts for the “readability” factor.
4. Make it clear what you need and by when.
Set accurate and realistic deadlines for all of your contributors. As humans, we’re creatures of habit. If we know we have to do something by a set time every week or every month, we get into the routine of doing so. In addition, understand contributors’ other work responsibilities and priorities to determine deadlines that work for them as well as your production schedule.
5. Remember that a bit of competition can be healthy.
One of the things I’ve found is that contributors really have enough time to do it, but they push it so far down their list of things to do – usually because they don’t realize the importance of it (no matter how many times it’s discussed) – that it never gets completed.
Open up your content production schedule spreadsheet to all contributors so everybody can see who’s done what and who hasn’t done what they were supposed to do. Seeing this information can spur colleagues to compete against each other, striving not only to meet deadlines but also to submit content before their colleagues do.
Note: This method isn’t suitable for everyone. It depends on everything from personalities to your way of working. Don’t just implement this point without research and analysis first.
If you’re struggling to find in-house contributors who want to create content, try some of these tips. You may not need to look at all five and you may find your own ways (please share in the comments). As Joe Pulizzi said, “There is no one right way to achieve content marketing goals.”
Looking for more advice on how to organize your content marketing team for optimal collaboration and productivity? Read CMI’s eBook:Building the Perfect Content Marketing Mix: Internal Processes and Content Marketing Strategy Tactics.
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