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Adding Peer Reviews to the Influencer Content Marketing Process

February 19, 2019 - influencer content marketing -
By: Chris Tozzi

Who edits influencer marketing content? In most cases, the answer is professional editors, who may or may not have a deep understanding of how target readers think.

At Fixate, we’ve started a new approach. Instead of relying just on our professional editorial staff to review content, we’ve added peer reviewers to the process. Those peer reviewers are drawn from the same community of technology professionals who write our articles.

That means that the personas which our content is designed to engage — technology practitioners — also play a direct role in helping to hone content before it is published through a peer-review process.

Here’s a summary of how our peer-review process works, how it has benefited our internal content operation and — most important of all — how it leads to even better content for influencer marketing.

What is peer review for influencer marketing?

At Fixate, peer review means that technology practitioners not only produce our influencer marketing content, but also review content produced by other practitioners.

We do this through a formalized process that requires most of our blog posts and other technical content to undergo reviews by at least two practitioners with relevant domain expertise as part of the editorial process.

Thus, if one of our authors writes a post about best practices for Kubernetes security, for example, the article will be reviewed by two other writers who have real-world experience securing Kubernetes.

In our peer-review process, each reviewer gives the article an overall score, while also leaving qualitative feedback about which parts of the content are strong and which could be improved. Fixate’s professional editors then review the peer reviews, determine which revisions the content needs before it can be published, and make those changes, either themselves or in collaboration with the original author.

Why peer-review technical content?

If you’re a professional editor, you might interpret peer review as a slight against you. After all, in most content operations, articles are written by an author who has domain expertise in the topic, then edited by a professional editor, who in many cases has never worked with the technology that the article discusses.

That’s the process we’ve used at Fixate, and (again) professional editors still play a leading role in our editorial process. However, we realized that by relying on professional editors alone to review and edit content, we were facing two major obstacles:

  • The technological expertise of our professional editorial staff is limited. Although our editors have technical backgrounds, they’re not experts in every technology and every domain that our authors write about. No one has that kind of breadth.
  • Our authors have said that more feedback on content would help, and our professional editors can’t always provide as much feedback as the authors would like because their time is limited, and they usually leave comments only in situations where an article is really good or really bad.

Peer review has helped to address both of these challenges. It ensures that multiple people who are experts in a given technology review articles about that technology before we deliver them to clients. It also leads to much more feedback for our authors, because their peers leave comments for them to review.

The process has also had the benefit of motivating our authors to do even better work. It turns out that writers work even harder to produce great content when they know that other practitioners in their field of the IT industry (as opposed to just professional editors) are going to see their writing in raw form. Plus, our authors enjoy being peer reviewers, which gets them engaged in new ways with our content.

In short, peer review has led to happier and more engaged writers, a stronger feedback process and — most important of all — an even better final product. When multiple peer practitioners get to review technical content before it is delivered, the content is in a much better position to make an impact on its target audience (which is composed of people just like the peer reviewers) than if it were reviewed by a professional editor alone.

Conclusion

As a professional editor myself, I feel somewhat awkward writing about how Fixate’s new peer-review process has helped me to do a better job of editing technical content than I could have achieved on my own. I wish I could say that professional editors like myself are totally capable of reviewing technical content on their own.

But I’ve learned that that would be a lie. Just as you shouldn’t hire a generic freelance writer who lacks a technical background to write about DevOps, Big Data or anything else that requires domain expertise, you shouldn’t rely on editors alone to provide the editorial review necessary to produce great technical articles for influencer marketing. You need to make technology practitioners a part of the editorial process, too.


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Chris Tozzi has worked as a journalist and Linux systems administrator. He has particular interests in open source, agile infrastructure and networking. He is Senior Editor of content and a DevOps Analyst at Fixate IO.

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