Creating an effective content marketing campaign means that you may have to draw content and subject matter experts from all over your company. Doing this requires massive organization, and a deep pocket of patience. Understanding how to keep information bubbling out to your target audiences means understanding how to organize and structure your content teams.

There are many types of potential content teams. The makeup of your workforce will influence your workflow. You may have any one of the following types of content teams:

  • Siloed
  • Distributed
  • Centralized
  • Rogue

Siloed Content Teams

When companies don’t communicate in an organized fashion about their content, they create siloed content workforces. You can see the effects of siloed communication when you find FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on one part of a global organization’s website, and a PDF file containing the exact same information, but in long, boring paragraphs, on another part of the site.  This begs the following questions:


  • When did Department A create the FAQs?
  • Did they know Department B was creating the PDF Guide? If so, why didn’t they collaborate?
  • Who is updating the FAQs when things change?
  • Who is updating the PDF Guide to reflect those changes?

Chances are neither Department A nor B knew about the other’s content. It could be that Department A read Department B’s boring guide and decided to break it up into FAQ web pages. That team didn’t let Department B know. In any case, consumers are very confused; they are having two different conversations with the same company – and they do not know which conversation to trust. 

While content silos frustrate content professionals, they do more to hurt the customer—therefore, hurting the business—sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars.

Distributed Content Teams

“Distributed” in this case simply means that your content teams do not sit together in one place. Rather, they are scattered throughout your organization, like so many leaves in the wind.

Distributed content teams typically are the hallmark of large, multinational corporations or institutions like government, higher education and healthcare.  Sometimes the different teams exist for political or budgetary reasons – but whatever the reason, if these teams are not well trained and motivated, the content suffers, the consumer suffers and so the business suffers.

In the model of a distributed content workforce, different departments are given access to certain publishing powers within the content management system (CMS). Depending on workflow, they can hit “Publish” and have the page go live when they are finished. In some cases, there is an extra checkpoint, where presumably, a trained editor is looking at the content to ensure it fulfills all of the organizations’ standards for web content.

Distributed content teams are usually a necessary evil and they present a variety of challenges. However, they can be incredibly useful in situations where you just don’t have enough manpower on your central content team to keep all of your content fresh.

 

Centralized Content Teams

Centralized content teams are typically marketing or editorial departments that have complete control over any content published to any of an organization’s digital media properties. While complete control sounds like a really fun fantasy, in actuality, centralized content teams can suffer from any of the following:

  • Not enough resources or staff to cover all of the content
  • Massive backlogs of content because of bottlenecks in workflow
  • Confusion over priority on creating and publishing content
  • Lack of clarity about who owns certain types of content
  • Lack of subject matter experts who will help clarify content

Centralized content teams are also usually comprised of a motley crew of individuals: Former journalists, marketing managers, data analysts, and designers and developers. This can typically lead to in-fighting about who is more important (you all are!) or whose projects deserve priority. Also, depending on the size of the organization, centralized content teams may be exhausted all the time, because they just have too much content to manage.

Rogue Content Teams

Of all of the different types of content teams, rogue content teams are my favorite because I love rebels. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson said, “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing”? However, in the case of rogue content teams, they can cause a tremendous amount of trouble for you if you are responsible for the brand and content floating out there on the currents of the web.

Rogue content teams typically surface in organizations like hospitals and higher education. Doctors want their own Facebook pages, faculty members want to publish research on their own websites – and who can blame them? The web is a self-publishing medium and the doctor wants to get the word out about his services. A professor doesn’t want to hear that she can’t directly publish her research to her site—it’s “publish or perish” (pun intended here) in her world. Why should she be at the mercy of your governance standards? She doesn’t necessarily care about the brand of the university; she cares about her own personal brand.

In my experience, you can actually learn a lot from rogue content teams, and turn those lessons into a positive experience. Consider the fact that they had the gumption to go out there and create their own digital properties. This means that they:

·  Are extremely motivated to converse with their target audiences
·  Understand the innate importance of communicating using digital technologies


That makes them potential advocates in helping you persuade your senior leadership for better publishing standards within the organization. It also means that you may have to give them extra attention by giving their content priority in the beginning of your seduction process. However, if you manage it right, they will reward you by letting others in the organization know they should trust you.

Which Content Team is Right for Your Organization?

The truth is, any of the above models (except rogue) may work for your organization, and you may have to use a blended mix from all of the above three. You can have a distributed content workforce that has access to some minor parts of the CMS, and a centralized content workforce that does most of the heavy lifting on content. You may have rogue content teams that you need to get under control. Here’s a table to sum up our comparisons:

Type of content team
Pros
Cons
Siloed
·        A lot of content gets created because there is no over-arching process to go through
·        Departments do not communicate with each other
·        The audience is confused
·        The Departments are confused
Distributed
·        Can be useful in situations where you don’t have enough manpower on your central content team to keep all of your content fresh
·        For multinational organizations, can deal effectively with language, culture and other differences
·        Difficult to govern
·        Difficult to achieve consistency
·        Need careful, thorough training
Centralized
·        Have complete control over content
·        Not enough resources or staff 
·        Massive backlogs of content 
·        Confusion over priority
·        Lack of clarity about ownership
·        Lack of subject matter experts
Rogue
·        Are extremely motivated to converse with their target audiences
·        Understand the value of web content
·        Unhampered by political concerns
·        Almost impossible to govern
·        No interest in adhering to workflow
·        No stake in overall quality or consistency

This article first appeared as a book chapter in Ahava Leibtag’s book, The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web.  

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