Workflow. Two four-letter words put together. Workflow is the process your teams follow to get the job done.
Let me explain workflow a bit. I have two daughters, ages eight and ten, and they love to watch “DC Cupcakes,” a show about two sisters who started a cupcake bakery together. Watching the show with them made me realize how workflow is everywhere and affects every business. When you bake something, there is an obvious workflow. For example, you can’t ice a cupcake before you bake it.
Workflow Problems: People Creating Iced Cupcakes without the Cake
Do you have any content lifecycles that are unbaked, iced cupcakes? Examples in content would be:
- Scrambling like mad the day that an important blog post is supposed to go out, to find the author, reviewer and poster
- Using three different names for your company on three different parts of the website
- Publishing content without metatags
- Using the wrong keywords, so no one can find the content
Those are your unbaked, iced cupcakes.
Why do we treat content this way? Why do we treat our content teams this way? And most importantly, why do we treat our customers this way?
The Solution is in your People and Process
When we look at our content strategy lifecycle next to our editorial structure for planning, creating, publishing, distributing, and analyzing content, we see a reflective process.
At each point in a content strategy phase, we have people who are responsible for moving the content to the next phase. So too, in the workflow, we have people who move the content from one stage to the next. This would be highly coordinated baton tossing of content, which works -- as opposed to uncoordinated baton tossing. Let’s look at these roles.
Any team creating content needs to have a clear picture of where the content is coming from and how it is published to the site. In every content production chain, there are typically eight different roles:
In most organizations, content requests come in from the C-suite, from executives throughout the organization, and data analysts requesting changes. In a proactive content team, the team makes content requests because, by analyzing data, they realize they need to change the conversation.
Providers are the people in the organization who give you the basic raw facts or data to create the content. They may be subject matter experts, sales people, product specialists or marketing managers who understand their product or service lines.
Once the request comes in and the content is sourced, it needs to be created. This is when content is handed to your creative content producers: writers, photographers, videographers and so on.
Content needs to be reviewed to make sure it is in line with brand and editorial standards. Legal may need to review for compliance on regulatory matters. The original requesters and providers should probably review as well to make sure the content is not only factually correct, but satisfies the original business intention.
These people can finalize the content and say that it is ready for publishing.
These are the CMS authors, web producers and content publishers who ensure the content goes live and looks good.
The social media and audience engagement specialists are responsible for publicizing and using the new content to drive engagement.
These are the people who answer the question, “How is that content performing?” That is the most important question in the minds of analysts. Content supports the sales process, and whatever it is that you’re selling; analysts are going to focus on how the data shows an ROI from having a robust content team.
The above is a very simplified version of a content workflow lifecycle. Within those roles are thousands of tiny details that need to be performed. To truly understand your content lifecycle so you can create an efficient workflow, you need to understand all the tasks that each of these roles play.
Title image courtesy of Marie C Fields (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: To read more from Ahava, see her Mobile Content Strategy: Five Analytics that Really Matter