Content Marketing Smooth Handoffs: Reducing Friction in Your Content Marketing Workflow
At Fixate, we use tools like Trello to help manage our influencer content marketing workflow. However, we’ve found that even the best-planned process can have friction points that can slow or even stop your workflow cold. Here are a few observations and solutions that can help grease the wheel of your influencer content marketing workflow.
Failure lurks where?
At. Every. Interface.
This is something I learned working on engineering projects: Wherever you have two things that connect or meet an interface, that is a potential failure point.
With a content marketing workflow process, interfaces generally fall into three categories—starts, handoffs, and finishes. Succeeding at keeping the workflow running smoothly is less complicated than running engineered systems. It is more like training with your team for a relay race. It just requires identifying the smoothest transition format, communication, and practice.
With influencer content marketing, the workflow usually begins when a topic is assigned and approved. This is where it is useful to have a few things in place, such as:
- An on-boarding process for your content contributor
- Clear deadline communication
- A clear understanding of the topic approval process
Remember, it can be daunting to write, especially if your contributor is a practitioner influencer rather than a professional writer. Any source of confusion is a reason to delay facing the blank screen.
Don’t give any of your content creators an excuse to stall because of a lack of clarity on how to get started. You should have a well-understood process that defines when they are cleared to write and the deadline. Make sure you have gone over the process with them personally (by voice or in person, not email). Then, reinforce the process with written guidelines for them to refer to, and then hold them to it.
Topic approvals, and the process for obtaining and selecting topics to write and their approval, should be well understood. Everyone who touches the content, from content creator to content distributor, should know what his or her deadline is, as well as the overall deadline of the piece, and make sure it is clearly marked and assigned through every step of the workflow.
We use Trello in order to manage our workflow. But for it to work, it means everyone has to have the tool and understand how we use it in our workflow. Adoption comes down to three things:
Like starts, a good handoff begins with ensuring everyone knows that there is a workflow, that it relies on a tool, and that they have to use the tool in order to hand content off to the next step in the workflow.
Then, one must train the workflow users on the workflow tool and process. One way to verify that your workflow users are fully trained is to ask them to move a demo piece of content through the process. Connect this activity to a reward if you are having trouble motivating training completion and process compliance. For example, maybe on-boarding (and the ability to bill) is not complete until this step is done.
If someone tries to work outside the tool or the workflow (to send you content via email, for instance), don’t respond. Or, if they are a content contributor (influencer) from outside your company, you may choose to be their proxy and enter them into the workflow yourself. However, if you have a lot of contributors, this can waste your time.
It takes a lot of people to create customer-quality content. You may have the author, an editor, peer review, a copy editor, a graphics designer (and more) in touch with your content. But this can create confusion as well if you don’t designate one person to be responsible for publication and distribution. Make sure you identify that person, and that: they know who they are, they know what triggers distribution, and your distribution mechanisms are all in place. This means ensuring your distribution lead knows:
- Where and how to publish
- How to set up and activate your tools for social share.
- To notify everyone in the organization and content authors when new content is out so they can use their network to amplify it.
- It is their responsibility to verify successful content distribution.
Having a tool to automate your content marketing workflow is important, but insufficient. In order to have a well-run content marketing workflow, you will need to spend some time anticipating the failure points and compensate for them with communication, training, and reinforcement of organizational best practices.