Whose Job Is Content?
- “You’re at least as much a publisher as you are an advertiser.”
Content marketing has been embraced by businesses large and small. They know there’s far less of a need to buy media when they can create it themselves. They’re aware that if you have a website, a blog, a YouTube channel, a Twitter presence, a Facebook page, or a host of other online offerings, you’re at least as much a publisher as you are an advertiser.
But strategizing, creating, assessing, disseminating, evaluating, and monetizing content doesn’t just happen by itself. Someone’s got to actually do it.
How do organizations determine who that someone is? There are certainly plenty of roles and responsibilities that can oversee, or play a role in, content marketing. Here are just a few of the most obvious examples:
- Chief content officer/VP of content
- Chief marketing officer
- Everyone (or very nearly everyone)
- Content/editorial director
- Conversation/community director
- Social media guru
- Copy editor
- Outside consultant(s)
- Public relations professional
Companies that really buy into content marketing are increasingly taking the “everyone” approach. At the very least, they’re hiring a whole lot of people to be responsible for creating digital content because its worth has been solidly demonstrated.
Zappos is one such organization. It started testing video product demonstrations in late 2008. A year later, it was producing 60–100 videos per day, with a goal of 50,000 by the end of this year. To that end, the company is upping its full-time video production staff of 40, not to mention the scores of employees who appear in the majority of the demonstration spots.
The Zappos content team senior manager, Rico Nasol, has been quoted as saying the company sees conversion increase up to 30% on products that are accompanied by video.
Think this commitment to content is relevant only to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies? Think again. Rick Short heads marketing for Indium Corporation in northern New York State. As we learned in Chapter 1, “What’s Content Marketing, Anyway?,” his team publishes a staggering 73 blogs on the topic of soldering supplies. Each blog and blog entry is, in turn, translated into seven languages.
Seventy-three blogs on...soldering supplies?
“A lot of people have the same reaction you have,” Rick will assure you. “They’re surprised a topic like soldering would be worthy of this kind of social media attention. Bottom line is that’s all I do. That’s my job. This isn’t arcane and weird. I’m surrounded by 600 colleagues who are really into it. We’ve dedicated our careers to it. These topics that we in our industry are consumed with are very rich, complex, and rewarding. The team is bona fide, qualified engineers. What a great marketing tool! Why would I hire anyone to rep me when the ‘me’ is better than anything out there?
“If I’d put someone between me and my readers, it would read like another press release. We went right to authentic and real. We’ve got to get rid of the Mad Men, take them out of the equation, and go to the market one engineer to another. These guys are smart. They’re PhDs. We can’t think we’re impressing them in this old school, go-to-market style. I want you to be the one who speaks, who takes the picture, whose work is expressed in your own voice. They started seeing that I was sincere, and the customers sincerely appreciate it.”
How did Short arrive at 73 blogs? That’s the number of keywords he identified that the company’s clients searched on when looking for Indium’s products and services.
Clearly, when the job is creating lots of content, it helps to have lots of contributors. Yet putting someone at the helm of those initiatives is critical—as critical as putting an editor-in-chief in charge of everything published by a newspaper or magazine. Consistency, style, voice, adherence to mission, editorial judgment, and ethics are just a part of the role.
Joe Chernov is vice president of content marketing at Eloqua. He defines his own responsibilities thusly:
“My role is to identify content that will be valuable and share-worthy to the company’s audience and to figure out how to procure that. Do you have resources in-house, the skill set, to collaborate with the demand team, then to distribute content through channels that make most sense?
“The aperture is set kind of wide regarding what content marketing is. In some ways, I wonder if companies that have a blog could check that ‘content marketing blog’ box and move on. They’ll never do the real content marketing labor, which isn’t just tweeting out headlines that are related to your industry, but instead creating substantive, share-worthy content that gets people to talk about you and spend time on their website and gets them to engage in the things you want them to engage in.”
Okay, but Eloqua is a business-to-business (B2B) technology company, not an ecommerce player like Zappos. So how does Chernov measure the impact that the content he’s creating and overseeing has on the bottom line? He admits it’s not a clear equation but counters with a question: “How many shipwrecks did a lighthouse prevent?”
To assess the skill sets required in a chief content officer, Joe Pullizzi recently published a highly detailed job description template1 (see the next section). It’s so detailed, in fact, it’s likely better used as a jumping-off point for modeling your own needs upon. It’s a great point of departure for anyone working to design the skill sets they need for in-house content staff.