Culture of content – got one?

You’ve heard the phrase ‘a culture of content’, right? Well, you’re going to hear it a lot more this year.

Why? There’s a good chance your organisation has not only heard about content marketing – with all its benefits– but started to walk the walk. Your story

Only practising content marketing isn’t easy. That’s especially the case beyond the short-term of a few weeks or months. It’s one thing to plan and launch a content programme, maybe hire some external experts (you know the type) but another to make content marketing scale.

One way is to make sure almost anyone in your organisation can contribute, not only those in the marketing department or those with a goal of contributing in their annual review.

Analysts such as Rebecca Lieb at Altimeter may well have been the first to start talking about ‘a culture of content’, two or three years back, as they took a big step back and assessed what it’d take for most organisations to reap all the benefits of this content marketing thing that had started to buzz.

It might not have been just down to Rebecca and co – Andrea Goulet Ford wrote the book on the subject and others still can stake a claim – but that’s really not the point. We’ve come to accept a culture of content will be a good thing for most of us, as people who buy things expect organisations to change the ways in which they communicate.

Lieb’s report on the subject was published as a Slideshare. Slide 9 is where you’ll find the maturity model, pulled out as a screen grab if you don’t want to scroll through:

 

Content maturity slide

The five stages all make sense. Forget the first one for the moment – if you’re reading this you’re likely already beyond that. Also the fifth stage is for the content marketing elite. If you can charge for what you produce you’ve really made it. That isn’t just about Red Bull but think about newsstand magazine Porter from clothes retailer Net-a-Porter or Ford taking out advertising on GE’s thisbuiltamerica.com.

No, most of the people we work with are in the second and third stages. Making that move to a proper culture of content is hard.

For one thing, even some large companies can’t devote much time, let alone a single employee, to an editor role. Even when they do, much like outsourcing this role to someone like Collective Content, properly having the authority to tell other, often senior, people what to do is rare. (This is what editors in the media do. When you see this on TV/film, for once it’s not made up.)

So what’s the advice? This seems to be the best practice that you’ll find others saying:

  • Invest in your people and processes
  • Make approvals swift (this is perhaps the hardest thing to do)
  • Give your creative types what they need to create great content – preferably in real-time.

We couldn’t agree more but we’d add:

  • Use all employees – this is not just about HiPPO, the highest paid person’s opinion
  • Think about the front line customer support staff (they always have great stories), sales reps, your key engineers or product people, the oldest serving employee (like this woman – a Madison Avenue veteran… )
  • And if you’re finding it hard getting access to the right people? That only emphasises how much all of this needs senior buy-in.

We’re excited about helping organisations develop a true culture of content. We know lots of progressive marketers who are also determined to get there. It won’t be easy. But it’ll be worth it.

*photo credit: _Fidelio_ via photopin cc

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