Digital content operations isn’t the most fun part of content marketing but it’s probably the most important.
What is content operations?
In this context, content operations (also known as content ops) is the set of people, processes and platforms needed to ideate, plan, create, manage, approve, publish and analyze branded content across all the digital channels. It’s essentially a content supply chain.
The 2021 State of Digital Content from Altimeter spends a great deal of time on content governance and the overall operations of an organization.
When survey respondents were asked, “Who is primarily responsible for your digital content strategy?” the answers were diverse:
- 15% said that an editorial committee made up of senior leaders are responsible
- 29% said that a dedicated content team is responsible but gets input and feedback from other teams
- 31% say that a single department like a digital marketing team is responsible
- 5% do not have a clear content strategy owner
Other than the 5% who don’t have a clear content strategy owner, the other examples make sense. It really depends on how sophisticated the digital content operations of the company are and how much they believe in brand storytelling.
And the 5% is mind boggling to be honest. Considering that we’re halfway through 2021, I’m blown away that there are companies that have yet to understand the importance of digital content operations, brand storytelling and digital content in general.
For large organizations, content production and management could get very complicated. The Altimeter study focuses one of their questions on organizational structure. When survey respondents were asked, “Which model most closely describes how your company manages the content production across multiple departments or geographies?”, the answers varied:
- 4% outsourced the entire digital content operation
- 10% have a decentralized model
- 15% have what is called a holistic model
- 22% have the traditional hub and spoke model
- 50% have a centralized model
The breakdown of organizational structures kind of makes sense. It goes back to my comments about sophistication and priorities around content marketing and content strategy. There is no one specific organizational structure that is better than the other. It depends upon the size of the company and how the larger marketing communications and product marketing groups are structured.
I am noticing that many brands are adopting a decentralized model. This simply means that there are people responsible for content who sit within different product organizations, business units and/or brands. Product organizations and brands are pretty much synonymous.
Think of companies like Adobe and all the products that they have like Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, and the Experience Cloud. I don’t know personally how they are organized internally but I would suspect that a company of that size, and the amount of resources they have would have somewhat of decentralized content operations.
Even though the products like Photoshop and Illustrator might have similar audiences, they are still separate products as part of the larger creative suite which means product marketing may have different strategic objectives and a content marketing strategy. Having content strategists close to the product is critical to ensure that social media storytelling an audience intelligence is front and center during the social media content creation process.
I would bet that content strategists report into product marketing but dotted line report into a centralized content team, editorial team or center of excellence. This would ensure that larger initiatives and the Adobe narrative is woven through the content, best practices are shared and KPIs for content marketing are consistent across the larger organization.
While digital content operations may seem boring and or unimportant, they cannot be overlooked. Without having a strategic plan internally, a brand risks inconsistent messages and customer confusion when telling brand stories to new audiences.
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