Content myth #4: Content creation is either control or anarchy

Estimated reading time
4 minutes
12th January 2022
Author: Ellen Montgomery
Posted in: Content Production

For most content marketers, absolute control over content creation feels like it’s essential. The idea of letting non-specialists create content fills them with dread. It conjures up images of off-brand, off-message content undoing months of hard work by the marketing team.

Too often, marketers face some stark choices. One option is to maintain complete control over every aspect of content creation (and max out their stress levels). The other option is give another team the autonomy to create content (and pray they don’t unleash total anarchy).

However, the balance of control and autonomy doesn’t have to be a black-and-white choice between two extremes. In fact, for content to be effective, it’s vital to have a blend of centralized control for content specialists and distributed autonomy for those closest to customer needs.

woman wearing glasses looking at laptop, biting a pencil in stress

Dr. Clemens Koob conducted extensive research into content effectiveness. He concluded that content specialization should be coupled with processes and systems to support autonomy and free up dependencies. With the right organizational structure and technology solutions to support it, you can produce far more effective content by blending control and empowerment.

From citizen developers to citizen content creators

The idea of combining control and autonomy in content creation is part of a wider movement toward democratization that we’ve seen over the last few years. Disciplines that were once kept under lock and key by specialists are open to other teams around the business. Meanwhile, specialists maintain control over the really important stuff.

For example, the rise of low-code and no-code platforms hasn’t just helped accelerate software creation for seasoned developers. It also empowers “citizen developers”. People with little or no coding experience can now create apps aligned with central IT policies and governance and compliance requirements.

Similarly, the democratization of data has revolutionized the way many businesses operate. The growth of data lakes and solutions like Microsoft Power BI has made data, and the hidden insights it contains, easier to access for people outside of analytics teams. All the while, the data remains properly managed, processed and secure.

This shift toward democratization has brought major gains in business agility. This is largely because the people closest to the problem can now fix it themselves. They no longer need to wait for specialist intervention. In addition, specialist teams are saving time and money. As a result, they are free to focus on important strategic projects rather than micromanaging every tiny change.

By democratizing content creation, marketers can realize these same benefits. However, similar to software development and data analytics, doing this successfully requires the right platform to support it.

Creating better content with content democratization

Democratizing content creation means retaining control over the things you can and should control. For example, this may include aspects such as branding, key messages, and an engaging format. Simultaneously, non-specialists should be empowered to produce content themselves.

With a content automation platform like Turtl, you can control which elements of content creation can’t be changed by “citizen content marketers”. This can be done while bringing in insights and specialized knowledge from across your organization to create content that achieves the right outcomes.

At EI Advisory, for example, a team of analysts with no marketing experience uses the drag-and-drop interface in Turtl to create engaging, high-quality reports for the B2B market intelligence firm’s clients. Turtl is set up to only include the brand’s colors and fonts, therefore it’s impossible for content creators to break brand guidelines. This is the case, even without any involvement from specialist content designers.

hand holding a pen, drawing out 'user goals' on sheet of paper

Today’s exercise: map your content world

Of course, any content automation platform will only be as effective as the organizational structure it supports. As Dr. Koob points out in his study, supporting the right organizational structure is critical for achieving the right content marketing outcomes.

To assess your current content creation structure, draw a high-level map of your content world. Show the links between different business functions and teams. Try it in Miro.

Your organizational map should answer questions such as:

  • Who supplies the content?
  • Who produces the content?
  • Where do the insights for the content come from?
  • Who distributes content to whom?
  • Where are the missing links?
  • What slows content creation down?

This will give you a clearer view of dependencies, redundancies, and bottlenecks. As a result, you’ll be able to assess what structural changes to make and where content democratization can help you most.

Next up: the trouble with marketing metrics

That wraps up myth #4 in our myth-busting series, but we’ve got one last myth in our sights. Next time, we’ll be exploring the idea that marketing metrics don’t matter. While you’re waiting for the final installment, you can catch up with myth #1, myth #2, and myth #3.

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