I have a six-year-old son who is convinced he is going to be an engineer. His vision of the future is fueled by Lego, Magna Tiles and an assortment of chemistry sets we do while I close my eyes and hope we don’t blow up the house. Just the other day he said to me, “I don’t want to be just one type of engineer. I want to be all the types there are — structural, mechanical, chemical.”  

I didn’t tell him there’s now another category — content.

What is a content engineer?

Content engineers are responsible for all the technology that support the delivery and distribution of content. Understanding relational databases, structured content, how automation tools will integrate, choosing the right CMS, technical implementation and so on. These seem like very left-brain sorts of tasks, and yet often content engineers are responsible for communicating with more right-brain creative types. And therein lies why you need a content engineer.

Why do we need a content engineer?

Bridging the gap between technologists and marketers is the content engineer’s primary role. As businesses continue to break down siloes (any day now, PLEASE), we are seeing the need for people who can translate marketing/creative services to technology and implementation. Content engineers are the people who are going to fill that role.

These talented middle-brain people don’t just make sure content shows up where you want it, when you want it, served to the customers you want to attract and nurture. Content engineers also understand how to translate the technology to their peers and colleagues, so everyone on the team understands what needs to be done, when and most important, how.

How do we find a content engineer?

Chances are someone on your team is functioning in this role already — and you know who it is. That person probably needs more training and more resources to effectively do her/his job. So think about conferences that focus on content strategy and content technologies. This is way more than just CMS or CRM selection. Problem solvers in these roles know how to use that technology and align its best use case scenarios with your strategies. They also know how to talk to your content producers to make sure everyone is working off of the same set of instructions.

Think of the following example: Let’s say you want to create personalized content. Knowing your audience is important so you can decide how to serve up four different versions of the content for your segments (marketer). Then you need someone who is going to write that copy (copywriter, content strategist). Then you require the talents of the person who will set the technology to serve that content up to the right segments at the right time (content engineer).

Learning Opportunities

But wait, Ahava, you might be thinking. We already have a developer to do that.

My answer to that is it’s time for us to flex and adapt. While developers are incredibly important, they also need someone who takes the time to explain the strategy and work as the go-between to troubleshoot if things go wrong.

What do you think? Changing someone’s title today? Think you might not need that role in your organization? Think it’s called something else entirely? Let me know in the comments.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by  Lars Plougmann 

Title image by Lars Plougmann

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