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8 steps to build an internal culture of content

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There are a variety of ways to go about fostering a culture of content within an organization, and there is no set path to follow. However, there are some relatively universal factors to consider.

The organization must take steps to integrate content generation, consumption and publication goals and processes across the entire enterprise. This means breaking down silos that separate business units, departments, functions, processes and people. Here are some steps to begin building a culture of content in your organization:

  1. Get executive buy-in and sponsorship. It perhaps goes without saying that any enterprise-wide initiative requires executive sponsorship. With luck, it’s an executive with influence and a budget that first champions the idea of building a culture of content in the organization. Otherwise, many companies have individuals or teams who become passionate about content and begin to make the case to C-level sponsors.
  2. Identify a content leader (or leaders) to guide, implement and evangelize. Depending on the size and type of the organization, it may be beneficial to have a single person, such as a Chief Content Officer, spearhead the enterprise’s overall content strategy. However, many companies find great success with a collaborative content leadership model. For example, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) spreads its content generation leadership and evangelism among three departments: a Digital Experience and Design Team, the Director of Digital Marketing, and an Enterprise Content Strategy Group.
  3. Establish an overarching vision and corresponding messaging. Some companies start their content initiatives by simply creating a whole bunch of content without a particular vision or strategy to shape it. Results will be hit-and-miss until the organization begins measuring results and developing a solid strategy in response. Ideally, a business should establish an overarching vision of its content, along with the core messaging that should shape both internal and external content development. A documented strategy will include who, what, when, where and why content is created, shared and consumed.
  4. Implement tools for cross-functional sharing. To reach content marketing maturity, an organization needs to have an internal culture of content to support content generation and knowledge sharing. Software that enables easy multimedia content creation, cataloging and consumption is the ideal vehicle for fostering an internal culture of content. If those who have subject-matter expertise within a company find it simple and rewarding to make their brains available to others in the enterprise without unduly disrupting their work time, everyone gains.
  5. Evangelize enterprise-wide content sharing. The more employees, areas of expertise, and types of communication represented in an organization’s content library, the better the company’s content marketing success rate is likely to be. The more information and insights are able to bridge departments and business units, the more employees of all kinds are likely to be engaged and feel valued. The more employees are engaged and invested in the company’s success, the more likely it is that the company’s bottom line will reflect that success.
  6. Identify internal and external knowledge bases. By encouraging every employee to contribute content to an internal content repository, an organization can begin to identify those who hold the most interesting or valuable knowledge and those who are most effective at recording and sharing their expertise. The collective content repository is also fertile ground for interesting perspectives that can help feed the external content marketing “beast.”
  7. Incentivize employee engagement. Rebecca Lieb advises organizations to show each department how participating in a culture of content directly impacts their job functions. By tying employees’ content contributions directly to positive outcomes, a company provides the very best incentive there is for more participation in content exchange. As Mike Stiles, Manager of Global Content Strategy for InterContinental Hotels Group, points out, employees usually aren’t obligated to consume the content the company provides them. His advice: “Ask yourself, ‘If I didn’t work here, would I read this?’”
  8. Evaluate outcomes and adjust. As with all business strategies, the only way to know if a content strategy is achieving its goals is to measure the outcomes. A successful company will apply agile methodology to content analytics and adjust its strategy to optimize results. However, measuring the ROI of content can prove challenging. Engagement metrics (e.g. likes, follows, comments and shares), whether internal or external, are not usually enough on their own to prove a direct tie from a piece of content to whatever conversion is desired.

Where is your organization along the content marketing maturity continuum? If you aspire to establish a fully developed and strategic program populated by content that is meaningful, engaging and high quality, your organization will need to nurture an internal culture of content to support your external content marketing initiatives.

To learn more about how to foster an internal culture of content, download our eBook: “An Internal Culture of Content: The Secret to the Most Effective Content Marketing.”

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