How to engage your team into creating content?

Back in 2008, Seth Godin – a marketing guru, business author and adviser – claimed that that “Content Marketing is the only marketing left” (Content Marketing Institute). Since then, we’ve been hearing about the new “year of content marketing” almost every year. To avoid repetitions, we sometimes use sophisticated rhetorical devices and call it a year of video, a year of podcasts, or a year of infographics. Content is the king, huh?

No matter how we call it, it is clear that content is something that matters. We may have different types of content, focus on its different attributes, or use different ways of delivering it, but in the end, we will all agree that content is a powerful marketing weapon. And that building your marketing strategy around it can help your business in many different ways.

Content can help you generate leads by bringing more good quality traffic to your website (and boosting its SEO), build your expert position in the chosen field, prove your product’s quality (like in the famous “Will it blend” series by Blendtec), or do employer branding. The sky is the limit here!

But if you decide to implement content into your marketing strategy, you will soon learn that it’s not enough to produce a bunch of articles for your company blog. They need to be good. Speaking more specifically, they need to be informative, credible, thought-provoking, relevant to your target persona’s needs, easy to read and easy to apply.

Why to bother the whole team?

That’s where we come to the idea of engaging the whole team into the process of creating content.
Even though it is a responsibility of the content marketing team, it does not mean that they can produce all of that content themselves. Unless you are developing a tool for marketing, their knowledge may simply not be enough to prove your expertise in the right field. Their field is usually marketing – and that’s what they excel at!

That’s why it is necessary that the whole team be involved in the process of content creation. The role of the content marketing team is, in that case, managing the process and taking care of content quality.

Game of posts. All men must write

Let me use an example. As a software development company, at Neoteric we are focused on producing content related to creating software – both in terms of business and technical knowledge – because this is what interests our customers. We write articles about:

It’s quite a wide range of topics and it’s close to impossible to become an expert in all of them. But we are a team, right? By joining our forces, we are able to deliver high-quality content that meets different needs of our readers.

When planning your content strategy, identify your target personas and their needs at different stages, from awareness to decision (you can use free Content Mapping Templates from Hubspot for that!). Once you do it, think how different departments of your company can contribute. What value can they offer to these target personas? What knowledge may they share? Make a list of topics and identify potential authors.

Why your team does not want to write

As soon as you ask your team colleagues to write something, you will learn about lots of blockers, limitations, and excuses. Fortunately, most of them are NOT a sneaky way to avoid helping you. And because of that, it is easier to mitigate their concerns. Let’s go through some popular obstacles that may stop your team from writing and see how you can deal with them:

“I don’t know what to write about”

If you don’t write on a regular basis, it may seem difficult to find the right topic. What you do every day does not appear to be super interesting. Since you do it every day, it’s a routine. But for the people who don’t, it may actually be pretty compelling.

Your team may have problems with identifying the right topics. But inspirations for articles are all around! They are in everyday tasks and conversations we have, in the obstacles we face and ideas we get. It’s good to realize it and to make your team realize it as well.

Next time you hear someone talking about some problem that he or she came across during doing their tasks, or discussing some issues related to what they do, suggest that they could write about it. 

I would totally read it.

(source: www.foundanimals.org)

 

“There are dozens of articles about it!”

If you’re into a popular topic, it may be intimidating. Especially if you don’t consider yourself to be an expert. Why write about something when so many smart people did it before?

If members of your team are not sure whether it makes sense to write about some topic, your job is to ensure them about it. Try to suggest that they can refer to what other people wrote and combine it with their own experience, giving some additional value. Or that they can refer to different approaches to some problem and compare them. If you know that it is in the interest of your customers, it is worth to convince your team to contribute.

“It’s basics! No one will ever want to read it”

The problem here is not lack of knowledge but lack of self-confidence. When we learn new things, we tend to look ahead at all the things we don’t know, and not to look back to all the things we learned.

Writing about simple things may seem trivial. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not necessary.

“It’s not within my responsibilities”

People who are very strict about sticking to their responsibilities may need some additional motivation for writing.

In most cases, writing articles or making podcasts for the company’s knowledge base is indeed not their responsibility.

Some companies require their employees to share knowledge to get promoted. Writing an article seems to be one of the easiest ways to fulfill this requirement. But it’s not the only way to motivate your team to write. In many cases, it will be enough to explain why it is important that they all write. After all, no one likes being told what to do (or not to do) without being told why it actually needs to be done.

“I cannot write, I never could”

There aren’t many people who have a natural gift for writing, whose letters are perfectly falling into place forming words and sentences. Most of us find it difficult to speak our mind in an understandable way. And, in many cases, we are absolutely aware of this fact – teachers made sure we would be. Fortunately, most of us don’t need that gift for writing.

The reason why your content marketing team cannot write good articles about technology, managing projects or building startups is not that they lack writing skills. They lack knowledge. The very same knowledge that other people from your team have. So it’s enough for other people to share what they know – as an article draft, detailed outline or as a video – and let the content marketing team do their job.

How to help your team produce more content

The key to producing more high-quality content is to help your team join their forces. In order to do so, you need to build awareness of all the team members and show them ways to get involved in the process.

1. Highlight the importance of their involvement

What seems obvious to you may not be that obvious to the rest of your team. It will be much easier to encourage them to contribute to the process of content creation once they understand what this whole thing is about. Tell them why it is important that they write, why it has to be them, and not someone else, what the company can achieve thanks to their efforts, and what they can achieve themselves.

2. Suggest topic ideas

When you hear that your team is discussing some issues or that they are dealing with some problem, suggest that they could write an article about it. Sometimes it’s enough to connect the right dots in one’s mind.

3. Run a publishing calendar

Avoid vague declarations. Set deadlines and try to execute them. When people from your team will know by when they should finish their task, it would be easier for them to fit it into their daily plans.

4. Facilitate the process

When your team is busy with their daily tasks, it may be hard for them to find time to write a good article. Fortunately, there are some simple ways how you can make the process of content creation easier for them. Here are some ideas:

  1. Use Google Docs
    It will improve communication. It will be easier for all parties involved to add their comments and suggestions from the very beginning, and the author will be able to monitor and verify the changes in the article.
  2. Do not require your team to write articles
    If you can’t convince them to write an article, try with some smaller pieces of content. Maybe it would be enough if they wrote a detailed outline? The content team should be able to write an article basing on that outline.
    Also, you can think about some different ways of delivering content. If people from your team do not feel like writing, maybe they could record some short video while they talk about the chosen topic?
  3. Gather a few people around one topic
    They can write about different approaches or solutions to the same problem. Such polyphonies sound particularly good when the authors are polemicizing with each other or when they share their experience from various projects.
  4. Give them feedback

It’s not enough to say that the article was good or not. The more detailed feedback we get, the more we learn. If authors see they benefit from writing, that they develop their skills and knowledge, they will be more willing to do it again.

This applies both to the piece of writing itself and its reception. Sharing some screens from the analytics panel with authors, showing who is reading their articles, where they come from, or what other articles they read should be a good practice – it’s an evident proof that they did a good job.

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Marketing Specialist, enthusiast of customer-oriented marketing, linguistic communication theory, and literary semiotics - adapted to storytelling. Quora addict, compulsive learner. Follow at Quora

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