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QRG Clues to How Google Evaluates Local Business Reputation

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QRG Clues to How Google Evaluates Local Business Reputation


The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Image credit: Maura Boswell

Well, I actually read through the 172-page Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, with all of its memorable examples featuring jungle gyms, Tom Cruise, and the Utopia Animal Hospital.

I waded through this dense midge-water marsh of information hoping to enhance my comprehension of how Google understands local business reputation. I did it so you might not have to, and today’s column summarizes the clues I found amid the reeds as well as checking in with Dr. Marie Haynes for her algorithm update expertise.

For local brands, reputation is everything. It’s an always-on sales force, quality control, and a business intelligence methodology when creatively managed. It’s renown or infamy, a source of pride or a signal that improvements are required. It’s a multi-faceted local search engine ranking factor and it’s also a key component in how Google views entities. Today, we’ll take a swift trek through top takeaways from one enormous .pdf which just might inspire you to seek out many new ways of proving to Google and the public that the local businesses you market are the best in town.

The purpose of quality raters: somewhat clearer than mud!

Image Credit: Stan Lupo

Google employs 10,000+ people, referred to as “raters” or “evaluators” to judge webpages on the basis of the Search Quality Evaluator guidelines (sometimes referred to as the QRG). What sometimes confuses folks, though, is that these evaluations do not directly impact the rankings of the entities being reviewed. Rather, Google’s simplified explanation of the the purpose of this large human network is to:

“Help make sure Search is returning relevant results from the most reliable sources available”

How this works is that the raters are supposed to act as checks on whether Google’s ongoing algorithmic updates are producing better or worse results. For example, a quality rater might be tasked with looking at a set of results for the query “lead-free garden hose” before a Google update, and then compare that to the results for the same search after Google has made an adjustment. Did the adjustment produce better results, according to the principles in the guidelines? That’s the kind of question the rater is there to answer. As Google explains:

“They help us measure how well our systems are working to deliver great content.”

I like to think of the evaluators as a big flock of wading birds, probing the muddy sands of search for what they’ve been trained to think of as delicious. And why do we care what is on their menu? Because the guidelines tell us, in advance, something about how Google views search quality, and insights into their take on a good reputation are especially relevant to local business owners and their marketers.

Talking QRG + reputation with Dr. Marie Hanyes

When it comes to exploring the morass of Google’s algorithms, author and speaker Dr. Marie Haynes’ work is among the most respected in the industry and I’ve come to rely on her expertise. She has written extensively about the QRG and what it tells us about Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) and about Your-Money-or-Your-Life (YMYL) business models, and I particularly value the thoughts she shared with me about Google’s vision of reputation:

While Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines are not an exact representation of what Google’s algorithms do, we know that what’s in the QRG represents what Google is trying to accomplish in their algorithms. The QRG speaks several times about the importance of reputation. Google does not want to rank websites that are untrustworthy. What I found the most interesting in the QRG is how the raters are told to find different types of reputation information depending on the nature of the business they are researching. The guidelines say, “A website’s reputation is based on the experience of real users, as well as the opinion of people who are experts in the topic of the website.”

If you are writing on YMYL topics, then I believe that in order to rank you need to have information that is backed up by experts in your field. For many sites, improving E-A-T can start with responding to reviews, rectifying negative reviews and fixing the business issues that lead to users leaving those negative reviews. In section 2.6.1 of the QRG, it says, “For YMYL informational topics, the reputation of a website or content creator should be judged by what experts in the field have to say. Recommendations from expert sources, such as professional societies, are strong evidence of a very positive reputation.”

But even if you are not writing on YMYL topics, reputation is important! The guidelines say, “For example, customer ratings and reviews may be helpful for reputation research of online stores, but much less so for medical information websites.” And also, “For some topics, such as humor or recipes, less formal expertise is OK. For these topics, popularity, user engagement, and user reviews can be considered evidence of reputation. For topics that need less formal expertise, websites can be considered to have a positive reputation if they are highly popular and well-loved for their topic or content type, and are focused on helping users.

Real users, formal and less-formal experts, and a variety of independent sources, then, all come into play when it comes to raters identifying reputations. Thank you, Dr. Haynes!

What makes for a good or bad reputation, according to Google’s Guidelines?

To start with, it’s interesting to note that Google sets an extremely low bar for many local businesses when it comes to their reputation. Nota bene:

Many small, local businesses or community organizations have a small “web presence” and rely on word of mouth, not online reviews. For these smaller businesses and organizations, lack of reputation should not be considered an indication of low page quality.

I find this quote fascinating for three reasons:

  1. On the one hand, Moz readers will know that I am a very strong proponent of local businesses investing seriously in earning amazing word of mouth and a large body of positive reviews. Doing so should be table stakes for every local brand, no matter how small and no matter what Google thinks!

  2. On the other hand, the fact that Google’s SMB expectations are so modest may lend a welcome note of ease to players just jumping into the local search marketing game; you need to become the best in town, but you’re not up against Google’s index of the whole world!

  3. Finally, the foregoing excerpt from the guidelines is useful, because it illustrates how Google conceptualizes reputation in the context of overall page quality. In a nutshell, raters are looking around the web for proof of reputation to help them determine whether a web page deserves to be considered high or low quality.

Google’s document contains multiple examples of signs of a good or bad reputation, which I’ll pare down to just two:

Bad Reputation

Google points to a business selling jungle gyms that is the subject of multiple reviews claiming to have been ripped off and also of news articles citing fraud.

Good Reputation

Google mentions a medical facility which Wikipedia and news articles from respected sources name as one of the top four hospitals in the US.

The difference is easy to see, and your job in marketing a local business is to make it very obvious to the raters into which category your brand falls!

Where to build a reputational beacon any rater can see

Think of those thousands of raters in a boggy maze and learn to construct signals of reputation which handily guide them to a true and good quality assessment. Google lists all of the following as your options for this work:

Customer reviews

The local businesses you market will all make claims on their websites about offering top quality goods and services, but the QRG goes out of its way to instruct raters to disregard this sentiment in favor of the independent evaluations captured in actual customer reviews. Raters can examine your review corpus to see if the public feels the brand is meeting expectations. Famous brands may need to care most about reviews that judge whether a business is living up to hype, but every local company should implement a review acquisition and management strategy which seeks to prove to both the community and the raters that a high-quality reputation is being won via excellent customer service.

Professional reviews/ratings

If your industry includes a professional review site or network, make it a goal to earn this press. In the restaurant space, I’ve learned that most professional review sites don’t accept solicitations. Rather, an eatery must take the indirect approach of building up enough local word-of-mouth buzz to catch the attention of the professional reviewer. If your vertical lends itself to this type of notice, know that Google’s quality raters can closely examine this type of content for signals of brand quality.

Blog posts

If the community you serve is lucky enough to have one or more dedicated local blogs, their authors should be neighbors you get to know. Avoid a hard sell in your outreach. Rather, discover a meaningful way to start talking about your shared love of your city; local bloggers tend to be serious community advocates, and if you can prove that your business shares such aesthetics, you’re taking the first steps to becoming blog-worthy. If Google’s raters can find nearby writers speaking well of the brands you market, it can go far towards validating a good reputation.

Magazine articles

Many online magazines have a small business focus, and while you may need to work hard to achieve the level of fame that would win mentions of the brands you market in a publication like Entrepreneur or Fast Company, smaller concerns like Small Business Trends Magazine regularly spotlight SMBs. Columnists and editors are always looking for a good story, and while the inquiry and submission policies for each magazine will be different, thoughtful outreach on your part with an interesting business anecdote from which peers can derive takeaways is another great way to prove to the raters that a company is growing its good reputation.

News stories

From years of reading local business news stories, I’ve realized that the best way to earn inclusion is through simple helpfulness to the community. Whether that’s providing straight-up relief in a time of crisis, as in the above store of a disaster remediation company who did free work for a resident when her apartment was flooded, or from being a participant in or sponsor of events, teams, conferences, and movements, a local business can build a substantial reputation for good though its support of its neighbors. Sometimes, local stories are even of such considerable human interest that they become syndicated. Actively seek opportunities to become a business that’s known for helping others.

Forum discussions

Local business owners may sometimes wonder whether fora are too old school to be relevant. Google says no, and instructs its raters to check them for discussions of brand quality. If the community you serve has a forum, like the forum of the West Seattle Blog, where neighbors are asking one another about a restaurant, it’s a good thing to be mentioned there. Nextdoor would be another obvious option for local talk about your business. Most fora prohibit self-promotion, but if you become a member of a community hub like these, there may be opportunities for you to increase the visibility of your participation in your town or city and to respond when your company is mentioned and you’ll be offering a very positive impression for Google’s raters to consider.

Awards

I’ve served local business owners who are humble and shy of blowing their own horn, but in the quest for a glowing reputation, there is nothing to stop you from applying for prestigious awards or vying for local ones issued on a smaller scale, like the “best of the county” honors offered by this publication. Not only will it provide a strong signal of public trust on your website, Google Business Profile, and other online assets if you can say “voted best dentist in X in 2022” but the quality raters will encounter these awards and go further along their journey of believing your brand is truly earning a great reputation.

One last tip for reputation growth

Image credit: Steven Christenson

Google’s QRG is quite clear about wanting raters to rely mainly on independent sources to evaluate reputation. This is why it’s so important to get bloggers, columnists, reporters, communities, and organizations talking about the local businesses you market. You want your brands on their domains.

But don’t let a mention earned exist in one place only. When you earn press, reviews, awards, and other fame, repurpose that content on your website, local business listings, and social media profiles. Write some Google posts, shoot a video, craft a blog post, or an Instagram story. This will not only provide multiple paths for a Google search quality evaluator to discover your fame, but it will be remarketing positive messaging to the audience that matters more than any other: your customers!

The ancient Greek playwright Euripides said, “Along with success comes a reputation for wisdom.” Local business owners have already built up an impressive store of sagacity simply by running their operations; taking the next step of learning to see reputation as Google does is a habit of success they can easily adopt. Always continue to think customer-first, but thinking search engine-second when it comes to building online renown is surely a tactic for the wise.





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Five questions for our new CMO, Shafqat Islam

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Five questions for our new CMO, Shafqat Islam



Alex Atzberger: Now that you’ve stepped into the CMO role, what are you looking forward to?   

Shafqat Islam: It’s amazing to take on this role at both a category creator and leader. How many brands can be a leader in almost every category–think Experimentation and CMS–that we play in?  

And we have so much to look forward to and build on. We have an exceptional team of marketing leaders and practitioners. They are fiercely intelligent, optimistic, and care deeply about what our products can *do* for our customers. Not just for the people who will encounter the marketing, retail, and product experiences that we support, but for the people who build them. As somebody who has both built products and been deeply immersed in marketing, I love the perspective that our team has.  

Alex Atzberger: What makes Optimizely unique?   

Shafqat Islam: First off, we’re category creators in experimentation and content management, both CMS and CMP. Marketers know this, and analysts know it, as something like 7 major analyst reports will tell you.  

Martech is a crowded field, so it’s true that there are a lot of firms whose territory overlaps with some of ours. But show me another company that can handle the entire content lifecycle like we can. Or show me another company that can do both feature flagging and experimentation.  

We also have a legendary legacy in the martech world. Before I joined, I knew that A/B testing and Optimizely were synonymous, and that the company’s roots go all the way back to the origins of the practice. And that’s something that is like common folklore in marketing and technology.  

And more than anything, the 1500 people who work here are world-class. 

Alex Atzberger: Being a CMO talking to other CMOs and marketing leaders is an advantage. You know the customer. But you’ve also built tech products. How does that affect your work now?  

Shafqat Islam: I’ve spent the majority of my adult life building products for marketers. So I’ve been lucky to spend so much time talking to CMOs and marketers in almost every type of company all over the world. As the founder/CEO of Welcome, my approach was to solve marketer challenges by building products. But now as CMO, I get to use the products we build.  

We’re practitioners of all of our own solutions, so in addition to the natural empathy I have for marketers, I am also close to the job’s unique challenges every day. There’s nothing like that to keep you sharp and keep you close to the customer.  

As a product builder, I knew we must always speak to business outcomes. But as CMO, I love that we aren’t just talking about the solutions – we’re living them, too.  

Because I was an entrepreneur for so long, I also bring another unique view – my willingness to take smart risks. I love to try things, even if (especially if?) the results are sometimes surprising. When it comes to experimentation, there are no failures, only learnings. 

Alex Atzberger: What are the biggest challenges you’re hearing from our customers, current and future?  

Shafqat Islam: Growth, especially given how tough it is out there for so many industries. The stakes are very high when it comes to creating experiences that will win and retain customers. That’s what all of our customers–especially the retail heavyweights-are thinking about.  

And marketing and technology leaders need to do this with leaner budgets. Efficiency matters a lot right now, and that means not only reducing the costs you can see, like the price tag attached to software, but also the costs you can’t see right away, like how much time and money it takes to manage a set of solutions. With that said, in tough times, I think the strongest brands can not just survive but also thrive. I also think when others are fearful, that may be the time to invest aggressively. 

And in the background of all this, there is still the ever-expanding list of customer touchpoints. This is simultaneously an exciting challenge for marketers and an exciting opportunity. More data means more effective storytelling– if you can use it right.

I also hear marketers when they say there’s a need for a shared space for collaboration among us. The role of the marketer is expansive, and it’s only getting more complicated. Building a community where we can come together and appreciate our shared goals is difficult, but I’m optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction.  

Alex Atzberger: What is next in our space? What will marketing and technology leaders be talking about six months from now?  

Shafqat Islam: Looking around now, it’s clear that 2023 will be the year that AI-generated content goes mainstream. We’re just starting to see the uses and the consequences of this. There’s already buzz about ChatGPT and its capabilities, and platforms are already making space to integrate AI functionality into their offerings. It could be an exciting way for users to become better equipped to create and share high-quality content.  

Customers also have gotten very used to personalization. Every screen they see daily is personalized, whether it’s their Netflix account or social feeds. So, when I see a site that isn’t personalized, I kind of scratch my head and wonder, why? With personalization now the norm, expectations for digital creators are sky-high.

Read the official press release.


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What to Consider When Choosing a Brand Ambassador for Your Social Media Campaign

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What to Consider When Choosing a Brand Ambassador for Your Social Media Campaign

Want to maximize the potential of your social media campaign? Then you must ensure to choose the right brand ambassador for the job. Having a good ambassador will increase your social media reach and boost sales. But, selecting the best ambassador can be tricky.

This guide will show you the key steps to consider when selecting the perfect brand ambassador for your social media campaign. From assessing their influence to ensuring their content matches your brand’s mission. This guide will give you the insights you need to make the right decision.

Understanding the role of a brand ambassador

A brand ambassador acts as a company representative, promoting the brand’s products to a specific audience. They are selected for their influence and ability to communicate the brand’s message. Their primary goal is to increase brand awareness and engagement with the audience.

To achieve this, an ambassador shares the brand’s message and builds connections with the target audience. They help to establish trust and credibility for the brand by personally endorsing it through their own experiences. Also, they provide valuable feedback to the company, allowing for product improvements.

Tips for choosing the right ambassador for your social media campaign

1) Assess the credibility and influence of potential ambassadors.

One of the first steps is to ensure they have a very active social media presence. Make sure they have many followers and a high engagement rate. Check the number of followers they have and the type of posts they share. This will give you a good idea of the content they generate and let you know if they are a good fit for your campaign.

Make sure their posts are relevant and appropriate for your brand. If their content is not a good fit, you may want to reconsider hiring them for your campaign. This is important if your brand has a particular message you wish to convey to your audience. If their content is not in line with your brand’s values, it could have a negative effect on your brand’s image.

2) Analyze the compatibility between the ambassador’s content and your brand’s mission.

It’s common to think that a famous ambassador would be a good fit for your campaign. But if their content is not in line with your brand, they are not an option. You may want to go further and check the interaction between their posts and followers. If the interaction is very high and followers actively participate, this is a good indicator of the quality of the ambassador. This will show how much impact the ambassador has among their followers. The interaction of the followers with the ambassador’s posts is important, as it is a good way for them to get to know your brand better.

3) Make sure the ambassador is present on the right social networks.

If your brand uses more than one type of social media, you should ensure the ambassador is present on them. You can choose an ambassador who is active on most of the major social networks. But, you must ensure they have an appropriate presence on each platform.

For example, it may not be a good idea to select an ambassador who is primarily active on Instagram for a Facebook-centric campaign. Remember that followers on each platform are different, and it’s important to reach your desired audience. If the ambassador you choose is present on the right social media platform, it will be easier for them to reach your audience.

4) Set expectations and establish the terms of the partnership.

Once you have selected an ambassador and they have agreed to collaborate with your brand, set the terms of the collaboration. Set clear expectations and tell the ambassador precisely what you want them to do. This includes specifying the type of content that should be posted. It is also important to outline the kind of connection that should be fostered between their followers and your company.

Also, be sure to establish payment terms and any other essential partnership details. For example, if you want the ambassador to promote your brand at a specific event, let them know so they can prepare.

5) Consider brand ambassadors who have experience participating in events.

A brand ambassador with experience working at events and comfortable interacting with customers can be a valuable asset to your campaign. They will be able to promote your brand and products at events and help to build a positive image for your company.

Find a brand ambassador who is professional and comfortable in a high-energy environment. This will ensure they can effectively represent your brand and engage with customers at events. Hire an event staffing agency to ensure the event runs smoothly and let brand ambassadors focus on promoting the brand and connecting with the audience.

6) Complete the selection and onboarding process

Make sure you select an available ambassador with the right skills for your campaign. Verify that the ambassador’s availability matches your campaign schedule.

It’s a good idea to start interacting with the ambassador on social media. It will help you establish a strong relationship, making promoting your brand more accessible. Show the audience that they have rallied behind your brand and thank them for their support.

7) Follow-up and evaluation of the ambassador’s success

Once the campaign is over, follow up with the ambassador to test its success. Ask the ambassador if your promotion has been effective and get their feedback on the campaign. This is an excellent way to improve your campaign the next time you run it. It will also help you identify areas where you can improve your social media strategy.

You can test the success of your social media campaign by looking at three main factors: reach, engagement, and conversions. By considering these factors, you can determine the success of your social media campaign. Also, you can identify any areas that need improvement.

Conclusion

Brands use brand ambassadors to increase engagement and sales of their products. An ambassador has a large following and regularly interacts with your audience. When selecting an ambassador, consider factors such as their social media presence and the ability to communicate your brand’s message. Taking the time to choose the proper brand ambassador will ensure the success of your social media campaign.

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Content Operations Framework: How To Build One

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Content Operations Framework: How To Build One

More and more marketers of all ilk – inbound, outbound, social, digital, content, brand – are asked to add content operations to their list of responsibilities.

You must get your arms around:

  • Who is involved (and, I mean, every who) in content creation
  • How content is created
  • What content is created by whom
  • Where content is conceived, created, and stored
  • When and how long it takes for content to happen
  • Why content is created (the driving forces behind content creation)
  • What kinds of content does the audience want
  • How to build a framework to bring order and structure to all of this

The evolving expectations mean content marketers can no longer focus only on the output of their efforts. They must now also consider, construct, implement, and administer the framework for content operations within their organizations.

#Content marketers can no longer focus solely on the output. It’s time to add content ops to the mix, says @CathyMcKnight via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

What exactly are content operations?

Content operations are the big-picture view of everything content-related within your organization, from strategy to creation, governance to effectiveness measurement, and ideation to content management. All too frequently at the companies – large and small – we consult with at The Content Advisory, content operations are left to evolve/happen in an organic fashion.

Teams say formal content operations aren’t necessary because “things are working just fine.”

Translation: Nobody wants the task of getting everyone aligned. No one wants to deal with multiple teams’ rationale for why the way they do things is the right/best/only way to do it. So, content teams just go on saying everything is fine.

News flash – it’s not.

It’s not just about who does what when with content.

Done right, content operations enable efficacy and efficiency of processes, people, technologies, and cost. Content ops are essential for strategic planning, creation, management, and analysis for all content types across all channels (paid, earned, owned) and across the enterprise from ideation to archive.

A formal, documented, enforced content operation framework powers and empowers a brand’s ability to deliver the best possible customer experiences throughout the audiences’ journeys.

A documented, enforced #ContentOperations framework powers a brand’s ability to deliver the best possible experiences, says @CathyMcKnight via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

It doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds.

What holds many content, administrative, and marketing teams back from embracing a formal content operations strategy and framework is one of the biggest, most challenging questions for anything new: “Where do we start?”

Here’s some help in high-level, easy-to-follow steps.

1. Articulate the purpose of content

Purpose is why the team does what it does. It’s the raison d’etre and inspiration for everything that follows. In terms of content, it drives all content efforts and should be the first question asked every time content is created or updated. Think of it as the guiding star for all content efforts.

In Start With Why, author Simon Sinek says it succinctly: “All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.”

All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year, says @SimonSinek via @CathyMcKnight and @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

2. Define the content mission

Once the purpose of the teams’ content efforts is clear (and approved), it’s time to define your content mission. Is your content’s mission to attract recruits? Build brand advocacy? Deepen relationships with customers? Do you have buy-in from the organization, particularly the C-suite? This is not about identifying what assets will be created.

Can you talk about your mission with clarity? Have you created a unique voice or value proposition? Does it align with or directly support a higher, corporate-level objective and/or message? Hint: It should.

Answering all those questions solidifies your content mission.


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The marketer’s field manual to content operations

A hands-on primer for marketers to upgrade their content production process – by completing a self-audit and following our step-by-step best practices. Get the e-book.


3. Set and monitor a few core objectives and key results

Once your content mission is in place, it is time to set out how to determine success.

Content assets are called assets for a reason; they possess real value and contribute to the profitability of your business. Accordingly, you need to measure their efficacy. One of the best ways is to set OKRs – objectives and key results. OKRs are an effective goal-setting and leadership tool for communicating objectives and milestones to achieve them.

OKRs typically identify the objective – an overall business goal to achieve – and three to five key quantifiable, objective, measurable outcomes. Finally, establish checkpoints to ensure the ultimate objective is reached.

Let’s say you set an objective to implement an enterprise content calendar and collaboration tool. Key results to track might include:

  • Documenting user and technical requirements
  • Researching, demonstrating, and selecting a tool
  • Implementing and rolling out the tool.

You would keep tabs on elements/initiatives, such as securing budget and approvals, defining requirements, working through procurement, and so on.

One more thing: Make sure OKRs are verifiable by defining the source and metric that will provide the quantifiable, measurable result.

Make sure objectives and key results are verifiable by defining source and metric, says @CathyMcKnight via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

4. Organize your content operations team

With the OKRs set, you need people to get the work done. What does the structure look like? Who reports to whom?

Will you use a centralized command-and-control approach, a decentralized but-supported structure, or something in between? The team structure and organization must work within the construct and culture of the larger organization.

Here’s a sample organizational chart we at TCA developed for a Fortune 50 firm. At the top is the content function before it diverges into two paths – one for brand communications and one for a content center of excellence.

Under brand communications is each brand or line of business followed by these jointly connected teams: content – marcom, social/digital content development and management, center of excellence content – creative leader, center of excellence PR/media relations, customer relationship management, and social advertising.

Under the content center of excellence is the director of content strategy, manager of content traffic, projects, and planning, digital asset operations manager, audience manager, social channel and content specialist, creative manager, content performance and agility specialist, and program specialist.

Click to enlarge

5. Formalize a governance model

No matter how the operational framework is built, you need a governance model. Governance ensures your content operations follow agreed-upon goals, objectives, and standards.

Get a senior-management advocate – ideally someone from the C-suite – to preside over setting up your governance structure. That’s the only way to get recognition and budget.

To stay connected to the organization and its content needs, you should have an editorial advisory group – also called an editorial board, content committee, or keeper of the content keys. This group should include representatives from all the functional groups in the business that use the content as well as those intricately involved in delivering the content. The group should provide input and oversight and act as touchpoints to the rest of the organization.

Pointing to Simon Sinek again for wisdom here: “Passion alone can’t cut it. For passion to survive, it needs structure. A why without how has little probability of success.”

6. Create efficient processes and workflows

Adherence to the governance model requires a line of sight into all content processes.

How is content generated from start to finish? You may find 27 ways of doing it today. Ideally, your goal would be to have the majority (70% or more) of your content – infographic, advertisement, speech for the CEO, etc. – created the same or in a similar way.

You may need to do some leg work to understand how many ways content is created and published today, including:

  • Who is involved (internal and external resources)
  • How progress is tracked
  • Who the doers and approvers are
  • What happens to the content after it’s completed

Once documented, you can streamline and align these processes into a core workflow, with allowances for outlier and ad-hoc content needs and requests.

This example of a simple approval process for social content (developed for a global, multi-brand CPG company) includes three tiers. The first tier covers the process for a social content request. Tier two shows the process for producing and scheduling the content, and tier three shows the storage and success measurement for that content:

Click to enlarge

7. Deploy the best-fit technology stack

How many tools are you using? Many organizations grow through acquisitions, so they inherit duplicate or overlapping functionality within their content stacks. There might be two or three content management systems (CMS) and several marketing automation platforms.

Do a technology audit, eliminate redundancies, and simplify where possible. Use the inherent capabilities within the content stack to automate where you can. For example, if you run a campaign on the first Monday of every month, deploy technology to automate that process.

The technology to support your content operations framework doesn’t have to be fancy. An Excel spreadsheet is an acceptable starting place and can be one of your most important tools.

The goal is to simplify how content happens. What that looks like can vary greatly between organizations or even between teams within an organization.

Adopting a robust content operations framework requires cultural, technological, and organizational changes. It requires sponsorship from the very top of the organization and adherence to corporate goals at all levels of the organization.

None of it is easy – but the payoff is more than worth it.

Updated from a November 2021 post.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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