[Note from Lee: While I fervently pursue the home stretch of writing my own book "Optimize", I've asked a few friends to share their thoughts on topics such as Content Marketing, SEO and Social Media. This post comes from Rebecca Lieb, who I've known since her days at ClickZ, then Econsultancy and now she is digital advertising and media analyst at the Altimeter Group. Her new book, Content Marketing: How to Think Like a Publisher to Market Online and in Social Media comes out this week.]
Content workflow is the point at which content marketing gets tactical. It’s nuts-and-bolts process: content calendars, creation, approvals, style guides, templates, and tools.
Get this part right and you’ll be ready to run a newsroom.
At the core of a content workflow is creating an editorial calendar to establish what content will be created, when, in what format, and for which content channel. A digital editorial calendar also tracks connections for that content, including how content will be repurposed and amplified in social media channels.
The editorial calendar should list of all content approved for publication. It addresses how much content is created, how often, and when it will publish. It includes content requirements, responsibilities, and a schedule.
An editorial calendar should be governed by a master calendar that takes into account key dates and events. It not only provides an overview of what content publishes by day, week, or month, but ties that broader schedule together with specifics, like holidays, trade shows, company announcements, events, or product launches. Don’t forget to take international holidays into account if content is targeted to foreign countries. These key dates also help inform the editorial calendar with ideas for content themed for the Christmas season, perhaps, or a major industry conference at which you’re releasing a whitepaper.
The editorial calendar also serves as an invaluable map for repurposing content. Say you’re publishing a whitepaper or research report. How and when will that information be broken down and funneled into other channels, such as a blog, press release, or an update on a social network? It should also act as a reminder to collect appropriate graphic elements like photos, charts, graphs, or multimedia content to enhance the written word.
The editorial calendar funnels “real-world” content into digital channels. Perhaps an executive is speaking at a conference or has made a media appearance. Capture the presentation and share it on SlideShare or YouTube.
Holiday reminders should be taken seriously and leavened with common sense. Seasoned editors don’t publish their best material late on a summer Friday afternoon when their target audience is beach-bound, just as a financial services company shouldn’t publish on a bank holiday Monday. It’s common sense; content should have the maximum possible impact.
Editorial calendars track what kind of content is created, when, and how often. A calendar might show you post twice daily to Twitter, blog three times a week, and send newsletters twice monthly, on Wednesdays.
Editorial calendars are critical tools in tracking ideas for content. A company striving to post four times per week on its blog might shoot for one originally authored piece, one commentary on industry news, a guest post from an outside expert, and one round-up of curated links on topics related to the business. Having specific goals helps to alleviate that “blank page” syndrome when you know you have to create something, you just don’t have a clue what that something should be.
Many editorial calendars incorporate the production process into the mix to ensure content creation is on track. This can include who’s responsible for individual content elements, when a first draft is due, who conducts the copy edit, and when (often, with a specific time) the final draft will be received, proofed, entered into the CMS (or newsletter template, or blog platform), and be published.
A follow-up process can be designed to promote and disseminate content on social media: tweeting, linking to, and otherwise amplifying the content. Whose job is that, and when will they do it? The editorial calendar should address this aspect of connect-the-dots content.