Working hard shouldn’t stifle creativity
When developing your content marketing strategy, you need to trust that those you hire are creative enough to publish original content that will attract readers. However, there are still deadlines that you need to meet in order to be successful (we’re talking about marketing after all!) You’ll need to strike a balance as a leader of encouraging creativity while still making your content team efficient.
Behind the scenes
Before giving them the reins to create compelling content, it’s crucial that your leadership team takes some time to set the stage in order to maximize success. A strong group is dependent on the support of its leadership, so let’s prepare you with some tips in order to best lead.
Strategy, structure & hiring
One of the most important things to do when building your content team is to ensure that you have a plan behind the creation. Some important steps to follow to are:
-Sit down with upper management and develop a strategy behind this newly formed group.
-Identify the purpose behind its creation, whether that is improving site traffic, increasing brand recognition controlling branded content or something else.
-Set a common goal and focus – without one your team can seem disoriented.
-Create a structure, but be flexible for change if it’s needed.
You’ll need to decide on team structure before creatives are brought on. There are many ways that you can organize, from smaller pods reporting up to leadership to simply having a large group with direct managers. For example, G2’s content marketing team is split into three pods- management, technology, and growth. Each pod has a writer that works on creating a full content chapter on different topics. This specialization helps create more thorough content because we have resources with different expertise who can stay focused on a specific topic.
Creating a team can be a difficult task, but assigning clearly defined roles and expectations can make the process easier. When you’re ready to hire your new content team, look for diverse individuals. Although you will still want to have a consistent tone in your writing, a diverse group of content creators can lead to various trains of thought that will benefit your strategy. There are several characteristics to consider when hiring a new creative team member, so keep your hiring goals in mind and try to identify candidates that will elevate your content team to the next level. You can always ensure consistency in your brand voice by implementing a style guide to help with onboarding and ensuring your brand tone is maintained throughout your published content. This guide can be as detailed or vague as you wish – only you know what type of guardrails they may need in order to be most effective.
After you assemble your all-star team of content creators, your next focus should be ideating topics for your content. During the planning stage, leadership should agree on a general list of the topics that you wish to cover, but writers should be used as a tool to help come up with additional content ideas to support those topics. Consider letting your writers map out their own content chapters with guidance from their direct manager. When deciding on big-picture ideas, keep your traffic goals in mind and try to create a keyword strategy in order to see the best results.
In order to keep coming up with fresh ideas for your content, a culture of innovation needs to exist. This characteristic will stem naturally from those you hire, but there are also some activities you can implement in order to foster it. Democratize the ideation process by implementing brainstorming sessions on a regular basis. Encourage all ideas and stress that no idea is a bad idea. There’s no right way to brainstorm, so consider implementing several different techniques in order to accommodate everyone.
Coming up with full topic ideas is likely to take several meetings. Although over-planning brainstorming sessions is often ineffective, it’s still important to ensure that the meetings you’re running are effective. You don’t want your team to feel as if you’re wasting their time. Whether you are all based in one office or across the globe, a video conferencing software can help plan, run, and record your meetings.
Clear communication and Iteration
Communication is key for reaching your goals. Encourage communication both professionally and personally in order to strengthen bonds and remove perceived hierarchical barriers.
Regular meetings, such as one-on-ones, are critical to having open communication between a manager and contributor. I have weekly one-on-one meetings with my direct manager where we discuss progress and plans for the next week. However, don’t limit your meetings to just one-on-ones; consider implementing an internal communication or collaboration software so that email and meetings are not the primary form of communication. No one enjoys 40 message-long email threads where messages can get lost in translation. If communication is accessible, ongoing and transparent, feedback is able to thrive. This will help in reaching your goals since there will be consistent communication on project progression, and can help a piece of content transform if feedback is clearly communicated.
Balancing individuality & collaboration
Encouraging creativity and efficiency at the same time may seem at odds with each other, per the old saying “Good, Fast or Cheap: You can only pick two.” To set your new content team up for success, you’ll need to create a balance between individual contribution and team collaboration.
While writing is often a very independent activity, collaboration allows for a cross-over of ideas and provides insight that the writer might not have seen before.A well-rounded content team makes use of all departments in the company for collaboration. This can be finding new content mediums to publish, or simply introducing internal guest authors to provide insight into different areas.
For collaboration to work smoothly, use a project management tool that allows for different users to work on the same project. These tools make working together easier and allow management to have greater insight on employee performance. They can see who is meeting deadlines quickly and who may need a little more support.
The writing process is individualized and completely dependent on the writer. However, you need to find a way to allow for creative freedom to flourish while still using a set of guidelines. Letting your writers and creatives take small risks will lead to a higher sense of satisfaction within their role. If possible, provide your writers with opportunities to produce content through different mediums such as text, video, audio, and more. This will add variety to the content on your website and allow them to vary their daily responsibilities and develop their skills.
When creating your team, be sure to document a general production process. Leave room for creativity within the structure so they don’t feel as if this is a set of strict instructions. Emphasize that this process is a guideline in order to help your creators reach their deadlines and ensure consistency.
When it comes to your content, work smarter not harder. You can put out tons of content but if it’s not driving traffic to your website, it’s not working for you. There’s a variety of different methods to use to get your content noticed by the right audience at the right time.
After you write compelling content, make sure everyone is promoting it through their social accounts. Have a training on how to write compelling social copy and optimize hashtags to expand your reach. Your writers should be proud of the work they are publishing and desire to see high levels of traffic.
A company social media account can be a beast to handle, but it is a great tool to use to spread your content. Consider implementing an editorial calendar to help plan content publication and promotion. In order to track the success of your social campaigns, use a social media management tool. These will allow you to plan posts and track engagement from your following.
Continue to lead the way, everyday
You hired each member for their creative nature. When trying to promote efficiency, make sure your leadership isn’t hindering them. A few ways to be an effective and creative leader are:
-Create bonds both through outings to help strengthen connections.
-Prioritize happiness and work to have high team morale.
-Recognize hard work and reward individuals according to budget allowance.
-Emphasize downtime and allow for your content creators to work on other projects to avoid burnout.
-Provide employee training as a regular part to develop the necessary skills.
-Avoid micromanaging and trust everyone will get their job done.
Creativity and beyond
Building a content team as a part of your marketing plan is a great addition. Not only will you see the SEO benefits from adding new, fresh content to your site, but you will also add new, creative-minded individuals who can give new insight into your organization. Make use of your employees’ skills while still staying true to your deadlines.