Content Collaboration: Building a Formidable Content Team
There’s almost never a one-size-fits all approach to building or managing a content marketing team.
It’s part art, part science. So, just as there’s no “right way” to draw a picture, there’s no “right way” to build a content team. But there are some basic principles to follow that can boost your chances of success.
These fundamental principles include filling key roles with the right people, using the right tools, and baking best practices into your team’s approach.
Let’s take a closer look.
Key roles your content team should have
In this section, we’ll cover the roles that will serve as the foundation for your content marketing team.
1. Content Marketing Manager
This person will be the leader of your team in many ways, overseeing the development and execution of your content marketing strategy. A content marketing manager is typically tasked with:
Building out the content calendar
Managing writers and other content creators
Developing workflows and processes for creating and delivering content
Ensuring the team produces quality content that meets your business goals (e.g. boosting sales, engaging loyal customers, driving traffic)
For example, Jenna MJ Thomas is the content marketing manager for the software company, OneTrust. In this role, Thomas builds her company’s content strategy, plans the editorial calendar, and oversees the implementation of multichannel, integrated content campaigns.
2. Subject Matter Expert(s)
The next key role to fill on your content marketing team is that of the subject matter expert, also known as an SME. Depending on the size and scope of your content strategy, you may actually need multiple SMEs with different areas of expertise.
Subject matter experts are important because their expertise lends an air of authority to your content, establishing your brand as an industry leader. You can use SMEs to enhance your content in a number of ways:
Guest blog posts
Developing content strategy
Reviewing content ideas and topics
Fact checking technical content before it’s published
Contributing quotes to lend credibility to your content
Working with ghostwriters to produce content
Hosting webinars or special events
For example, Content Marketing Platform’s CEO Shafqat Islam recently contributed a guest post on our blog after Gartner released its 2022 Magic Quadrant for Content Marketing Platforms, naming Content Marketing Platform the leader for the fifth year in a row. (More on this later!)
Featuring an authoritative figure like a company CEO in a blog post adds credibility to your content. It can also attract a different audience than other blog posts, drawing in those who are interested in the CEO’s perspective as opposed to other topics.
Another example comes from Koupon Media’s podcast, How Convenient. Many episodes feature relevant subject matter experts from within the company. In the episode about gamification, for example, Koupon interviewed their own VP of Engineering, Brian Reinhart.
3. Content Creators
As you might guess, content creators are the people on your team who create the content itself — writers, designers, videographers, and more. Finding the right content creators is important because they directly affect the quality of your content.
In fact, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) advises that when hiring a writer, the quality of the person’s work should outweigh their background and qualifications. CMI also posits that a highly skilled writer is often more valuable than an average writer with in-depth knowledge about a particular subject.
Here are some tips to find the best content creators:
Scope out content produced by others within your industry and reach out to good writers and creators.
Search on LinkedIn or other social media for specific roles you need to fill (i.e. blog writer, copywriter, videographer, etc.).
4. Managing Editor
Next up is the managing editor. This person oversees the day-to-day activities of your content marketing operation, making sure deadlines are met in a timely manner and that your content is up to par.
The managing editor is often responsible for strategic tasks in addition to technical ones, including:
Developing content ideas
Managing the content calendar
Collaborating with writers and designers
Assigning content to writers and other content creators
Ensuring content meets quality standards
Fact checking and proofreading
Making sure content has the right tone and brand voice
Approving graphics and layout
For example, Rohma Abbas is the managing editor at OpenView, a venture capital and private equity firm in the Boston area.
As OpenView’s managing editor, Abbas oversees all content production on their blog. She works closely with contributing writers, freelancers, and internal experts to help them find just the right words to tell their story and provide the best possible reader experience for OpenView’s audience.
When hiring a managing editor, it’s a good idea to look for someone who’s highly organized, pays attention to detail, and has experience as a writer.
It’s also important to find someone who’s adept at both giving and receiving constructive criticism, since a large part of their job is giving feedback and working through revisions with other staff members.
In addition to the managing editor, you’ll need at least one proofreader on your team — especially if you have a large content operation.
A proofreader typically has a much narrower set of tasks compared to an editor, focused entirely on the superficial aspects of writing like spelling, grammar, and punctuation. This keeps your content clean and frees up the managing editor to focus on strategic issues like tone and quality.
Proofreaders go over each piece of content with a fine-toothed comb, checking each piece of content for the following:
Spelling and grammar mistakes
Whether it meets the customer’s style guidelines
When hiring a proofreader, look for someone who is extremely detail-oriented and has expert-level knowledge of the structural elements of writing.
6. Distribution Specialist(s)
Once your content is created, you need someone to publish it in all the right places — also known as content distribution. If you’re not too familiar with this concept, content distribution is the overall process of publishing, sharing, and promoting your content through various channels.
These include owned channels (like your website), shared channels (social media), paid channels (ads) and earned channels (similar to publicity). And while the actual distribution happens after your content is created, it’s important to understand where a piece is going to be distributed before it’s created.
This is where a distribution specialist comes into play. Not only will they publish your content, but they’ll also guide your strategy from the beginning to make sure your content is optimized for each channel. (Hint: If you can find a distribution specialist who also does SEO, that’s even better!)
7. Analytics Manager
If you’re churning out content without paying attention to how it’s performing, you could be wasting serious time on the wrong stuff. Enter the analytics manager.
This person keeps an eye on all of your metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), letting your team know what’s working and what’s not. This allows you to adjust your strategy accordingly.
Here are some typical tasks for an analytics manager:
Create and maintain a reporting system to deliver daily, weekly, and monthly insights on content analytics and traffic trends
Identify and interpret patterns in consumption behavior
Identify new opportunities and best practices based on emerging trends
When hiring an analytics manager, look for someone who is proficient in all things technical, from content tagging and measurement to the management of large, complex data sets. You’ll also want someone who is a proven collaborator, with the ability to present insights in a compelling, easy-to-understand manner.
How to build a formidable content team
Now that you know all about the roles you need to fill for your content team, here are six steps to help you put it all together.
1. Select your team members
The first step in building a formidable content team is choosing the right players — both individually and collectively.
If you’re assembling a team from within an existing department, who would be a good fit for each role? Jot down a list of names and then consider whether this group would work well together.
If you’re assembling a brand-new team, create job descriptions for each role and post them on the appropriate forums. LinkedIn is a good place to start, along with writer’s groups and industry associations.
It’s generally a good idea to hire your content marketing manager and managing editor first so they can participate in assembling the rest of the team. It’s also a good idea to have a solid strategy in place so you have a general idea of how many content creators you’ll need.
Jill Phillips of Buildfire suggests, “Before you start looking for writers, you need to create an effective content strategy that will help you decide on the type and number of writers you need to hire. The strategy will also help you stay focused on your long-term goals and not just on producing content.”
2. Get your content team focused on key KPIs
Once you’ve assembled your team, let them know what success looks like by focusing them on key KPIs. Not only does this point everyone in the same direction, but having a content team who has mastered performance measurement will put you way ahead of the curve.
Our 2022 State of Content Survey found that the ability to measure performance has the highest impact on a team’s success, yet it’s the most challenging and underdeveloped part of content operations.
For example, only 9% of marketers rated their ability to demonstrate the impact of content as “excellent”. Breaking it down further, 44% had difficulty with holistic reporting, 43% with tracking performance across channels, and 39% with measuring KPIs.
By focusing on KPIs from the start, your team will be better equipped to measure success in the future.
3. Create an onboarding process
When assembling a new team, it’s important to have a clear onboarding process so that everyone knows exactly what they’re supposed to do — and what everyone else is supposed to do.
As the Content Marketing Institute puts it: “To function efficiently, it’s important to have clearly defined job roles and a formal structure for your team. Without this, responsibilities get blurred and chaos usually ensues.”
In addition to defining roles, it’s a good idea to create a style guide to give new team members during the onboarding process. This creates consistency across all of your content and gives writers and other creators something to refer to when they have questions.
4. Build your content calendar
Next up is creating your content calendar — a long-term timeline for planning and executing your overall strategy. This helps to keep your team on the same page. And on top of that, here are a few other benefits of a well-planned content calendar:
Reduces the amount of time your team spends brainstorming and scheduling because it’s all done up front.
Makes it easier to handle change because you can see the big picture and move things around accordingly.
Improves collaboration within your marketing team, with management, with other departments in your company, and with outside stakeholders.
Provides the vantage point needed to repurpose existing or evergreen content and use your resources more efficiently.
Allows you to measure results based on your marketing objectives and change course when needed.
5. Set up a workflow using project management software
Once you’ve mapped out your content calendar, it’s time to set up a workflow so that the right people get the right tasks at the right time. When a writer finishes a draft, for example, who does it go to? When your managing editor signs off on a piece of content, how does it get published?
Since there are so many moving parts with content marketing, most teams use some kind of project management software to keep things running smoothly — and automatically.
Take Content Marketing Platform’s software, for example. Our straightforward marketing workflow and task management system was purpose-built for marketers, ensuring alignment across the board. Here are a few things you get from our workflows:
Never miss a deadline – All team members can track progress at a glance with activity history details for each task and project update.
Create a single point of truth – Grant access to all relevant information necessary to accomplish a task, user by user, so that each contributor can focus on the details most relevant to them.
Build alignment from the beginning – Manage all relevant details in one place, allowing users to focus on whether their contributions are meeting the expectations set during the initial planning stage
Set strict or flexible marketing workflows – Things change by the minute for marketers. Make your workflows as strict or as flexible as you need with your workflows with customizable task management.
6. Encourage courtesy among team members
This last point may not seem that important at first glance, but it’s absolutely critical.
Content creation involves a lot of collaboration, revisions, feedback, and constructive criticism. If these things aren’t communicated in a positive way, it can lead to resentment and animosity among staff members — a poison pill that can quickly pull your team under.
So, it’s important to foster an environment of courtesy and professionalism from the very beginning.
For example, when giving feedback or suggestions for revisions, you should recognize the work that’s already been put into the project. Explain why you think the changes are necessary and encourage the writer or creator to provide their thoughts as well.
Same goes for writers or creators responding to edits. They should be able to accept criticism and make changes without taking things personally.
Must-have content collaboration tools for your team
Did you know only 16% of organizations have the right tech in place to manage their content operations? Sixteen percent!
To make sure you’re part of this group, here’s a list of essential tools you need for your team to reach its full potential.
1. Content marketing management software
The first thing you need in your marketing technology (MarTech) stack is a good content marketing management software. This tool should be the backbone of your stack, connecting to your other solutions while also doubling as a project management tool.
We’re a little biased, so we think Content Marketing Platform’s software is the best choice here. But don’t just take it from us! As you can see above, Gartner has once again named Content Marketing Platform the leader in the In the Magic Quadrant for Content Marketing Platforms, positioning us furthest to the right for Completeness of Vision and highest for Ability to Execute for the fifth consecutive year.
Gartner also rated Content Marketing Platform the #1 vendor across all three use cases — B2B Demand Generation, B2C Narrative Design, and Complex, Distributed Marketing.
2. Content management system (CMS)
Next up is a good content management system. This tool is a critical component in your MarTech stack because it handles all the things that go on behind the scenes of your website like assigning permissions and organizing content.
There’s an endless variety of web content management software to choose from, each with its own set of features and benefits. Some software, for example, is ideally suited for ecommerce sites whereas others are tailored towards bloggers or service-based businesses.
Which one is right for you mostly depends on what you need your website to do and how tech-savvy you are.
3. Social media scheduling software
Social media will undoubtedly play a large role in your content distribution strategy. Oftentimes though, the time you’re available to post on social media isn’t the same as your audience’s most active time.
This is where social media scheduling software comes into play. It allows you to align and schedule posts to multiple social platforms at different times to maximize your reach.
This tool will be your Distribution Specialist’s best friend. Not only does this mean they don’t have to be live on social media at all hours of the day, but it also means they can take advantage of the optimal posting times for each platform.
4. SEO software
Finally, you need a good SEO tool to make sure your content is found through organic search. After all, what good is it to put a ton of content out there if no one can find it?
Plus, SEO software can do a lot more than just optimize for keywords. Here are some other things you can do with your SEO tool:
Analyze your competitor’s SEO strategy
Save time and money on manual SEO audits
Find high-converting keywords to drive your content strategy
Track SEO progress & KPIs
Visualize and conceptualize data
Communicate clear ROI to clients
FAQs on building a content team
How do you build a content development team?
There are many different ways to build a content team. Here are six steps to get you started:
Select your team members
Get your team focused on key KPIs
Create an onboarding process
Build your content calendar
Set up a workflow using project management software
Encourage courtesy among team members
What are the rules for a content team?
There are no pre-set rules for a content marketing team — that’s one of the things that makes content marketing so unique. There are so many different ways to do it, and what works for one company may not work for the next.
What is content collaboration?
Content collaboration is the process of involving multiple people in the creation of a piece of content. This usually involves strategists, writers, designers, editors, proofreaders, and subject matter experts.
Why is content collaboration important?
First, it provides multiple points of view — a subject matter expert, for example, can provide insight that a writer couldn’t get on their own. Second, it ensures that you’re producing high-quality content by allowing people with different skill sets to perform different tasks. .
Building a top notch team is critical to content marketing success, and now you know what roles to fill, how to assemble a formidable team, and what tools you need to get the job done. Best of luck!