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Why your business needs to create a ‘culture of content’

Last updated on January 12th, 2015 at 03:19 pm

by Kay Mathews

The demand for content is growing exponentially. To meet that demand, creating and refining content must go beyond the marketing department, according to a new report. When the value of content is infused across the organization, a Culture of Content can be the driving force behind an engine of content. A CoC leads to stronger branding, more contextually relevant interaction with customers and partners, and better communications and resolutions.

In a recent best practices report from the Altimeter Group, authors Rebecca Lieb, Jessica Groopman, and Susan Etlinger begin by providing the following definition:

A culture of content exists when the importance of content is evangelized enterprise-wide, content is shared and made accessible, creation and creativity ar encouraged, and content flows up and downstream, as well as across various divisions. A formalized yet not immutable content strategy is the framework upon which to base culture.

“A Culture of Content” acknowledges what many already know – the demand for content has never been higher – and contends that there is a need to refocus traditional organizational culture theories by concentrating on content. The authors assert that a CoC is emergent now because of…

  • content demand, and both brands and employees are publishers in this age of always-on social media, devise proliferation, and real-time marketing;
  • the fact that content is everywhere, from the customer service rep to sales staff to the marketing department;
  • the proliferation of media and channels, from videos to infographics to testimonials in this digitalized culture where real-time, contextualized content is vital;
  • and media convergence of paid, owned, and earned media that needs to “transport and transform content across screens, media, and platforms.

The four primary components of the CoC identified were inspiration, people, process, and content.

  • Inspiration: The three forces that fuel a content-centric organizational culture are vision (establishing a shared common vision and disseminating that vision to all employees), creativity (creatively think about and produce content that differentiates your organization, and allowing content creators to flex their creative muscles to better reach current and new audiences), and risk and willingness to fail (in a CoC, employees know they can take risks because failure is met with a triage team, not a pink slip and successful risk taking can result in market share growth, employee empowerment, and differentiation).
  • People: Staff are essential to CoC and that includes senior leadership (buy-in and evangelism can be critical for CoC adoption and success), content leader (at this time, chief content officer is a role that only exists in a few organizations such as Netflix, Hasbro, CQ Roll Call, and at DigitasLBi, which just recently created the role of North America Chief Content Officer) , business units (content goes beyond marketing to PR, sales, customer support, IT and even legal and that content should be tied to individual/departmental objectives), external partners (larger brands often turn to external partners to help create content such as Kraft working with agencies like MXM, 360i and Starcom), and employees (bring employees into a content culture by identifying content creators and empowering others to identify content needs and stories).
  • Process: To help a culture of content thrive and evolve over time, it is important to establish clear processes, roles and resources through evangelism (akin to proselytizing in the form of promoting, winning someone over, advocating, and championing), governance (governing body, such as center of excellent, steering committee, etc., establishing clear guidelines and defines how content is developed, created, curated, and what the brand guidelines are), education and training (formal training on new programs, routine knowledge sharing, collaboration tools, and hiring those with a creative background or enthusiastic willingness to participate in content initiatives), and technology (role in a CoC is to centralize, streamline and optimize by providing tools for branded assets, knowledge sharing, analysis, reporting and approving via integrated systems).
  • Content: Fostering a culture of content puts content at the heart of converged media across paid, owned, and earned channels. The result is content begetting more content. This is especially important for B2B organizations “working to eliminate internal barriers between content, media, and data to create an exchange of ideas and a content circulatory system both within the enterprise and with external partners.”

The report indicates that companies embodying a CoC embrace the following success criteria: customer obsession guides content; content is aligned with the brand content leaders drive content from the top down and the bottom up; a CoC requires constant evangelism; brands must be willing to test and learn by taking risks, failing forward, and applying lessons; for multinational corporations, global must enable local; and, a CoC must be integrated across all cultural components including people, processes, mindsets, and the content itself.

A culture of content makes content strategy and content marketing a business asset that leads to more success. The marketing department knows the importance of content, but companies as a whole are encouraged to make content an ingrained element of the organizational culture.

A starting point could be inspired by what DigitasLBi recently did and create a Chief Content Officer position. Agency executives told MediaPost that “the creation of the Chief Content Officer role is a testament to the agency’s growing focus on original content – telling the most compelling, valuable stories for brands.”

For additional articles, resources, and research on the topic, see Chief Content Officer magazine.

Photo via Altimeter Group


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