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Whose job is content?

Content marketing has been embraced by businesses large and small. They know there's far less of a need to buy media when you can create it yourself. They're aware that if you have a website, a blog, a YouTube channel, a Twitter presence, a Facebook page, or a host of other online offerings, then you're as much (if not more) a publisher than you are an advertiser.


But strategizing, creating, assessing, disseminating, evaluating, and monetizing content doesn't just happen by itself. Someone's got to actually do it.


How do organizations determine who that someone is? There are certainly plenty of possible roles and responsibilities that can oversee, or play a role in, content marketing. Here are just a few of the most obvious examples:



  • Chief content officer or VP of content

  • Chief marketing officer

  • Everyone (or very nearly everyone)

  • Content or editorial director

  • Conversation or community director

  • Blogger

  • Social media guru

  • Copywriter

  • Copy editor

  • Outside consultant(s)

  • PR professional

Companies that really buy in to content marketing are increasingly taking the "everyone" approach. Or at least, they're hiring a whole lot of people to be responsible for creating digital content because its worth has been solidly demonstrated.


Zappos is one such organization. It started testing video product demonstrations in late 2008. A year later it was producing 60-100 videos per day, with a goal of 50,000 by the end of this year. To that end, the company is upping its full time video production staff of 40, not to mention the scores of employees who appear in the vast majority of the demonstration spots.


Zappos' content team senior manager Rico Nasol has said that the company sees conversion increase up to 30 percent on products that are accompanied by video.


Think this commitment to content is relevant only to B2C companies? Think again. Recently I spoke with Rick Short, who heads marketing for Indium. His team publishes a staggering 73 blogs on the topic, which in turn is translated into seven languages.


Seventy-three blogs on soldering supplies?


"A lot of people have same reaction you have," Rick assured me. "They're surprised a topic like soldering would be worthy of this kind of social media attention. Bottom line is that's all I do. That's my job. This isn't arcane and weird. I'm surrounded by 600 colleagues who are really into it. We've dedicated our careers to it. These topics that we in our industry are consumed with are very rich, complex, and rewarding. The team is bona fide, qualified engineers. What a great marketing tool! Why would I hire anyone to rep me when the 'me' is better than anything out there?"


Short then said, "If I'd put someone between me and my readers it would read like another press release. We went right to authentic and real. We've got to get rid of the Mad Men, take them out of the equation, and go to the market one engineer to another. These guys are smart. They're PhDs. We can't think we're impressing them in this old school, go-to-market style. I want you to be the one who speaks, who takes the picture, whose work is expressed in your own voice. They started seeing that I was sincere, and the customers sincerely appreciate it."


How did Short arrive at 73 blogs? That's the number of keywords he identified that the company's clients searched on when looking for Indium's products and services.


Clearly, when the job is creating lots of content, it helps to have lots of contributors. Yet putting someone at the helm of those initiatives is critical -- as critical as putting an editor-in-chief in charge of everything published by a newspaper or magazine. Consistency, style, voice, adherence to mission, editorial judgment, and ethics are just a part of the role.


Joe Chernov, VP of content marketing at Eloqua, defines his responsibilities as being able to "identify content that will be share-worthy to the company's audience, and to figure out how to procure that."


Chernov challenges companies to ask themselves if they have "resources in-house, the skill set to collaborate with demand team, [and the ability] to distribute content through channels that make the most sense."


"The aperture is set kind of wide regarding what content marketing is," Chernov said. "In some ways, I wonder if companies that have a blog could check that 'content marketing blog' box and move on. They'll never do the real content marketing labor, which isn't just tweeting out headlines that are related to your industry, but instead creating substantive, share-worthy content that gets people to talk about you and spend time on their website and gets them to engage in the things you want them to engage in."


OK, but Eloqua is a B2B technology company, not an e-commerce player like Zappos. So how does Chernov measure the impact the content he's creating and overseeing has on the bottom line? He admits it's not a clear equation, but counters with a question: "How many shipwrecks did a lighthouse prevent?"


In order to assess the skill sets required in a chief content officer, Joe Pullizzi recently published a highly detailed job description template. Take a look, and adapt it to your organization's content marketing needs.


Rebecca Lieb is an author, speaker, and consultant specializing in digital marketing, advertising, publishing, and media.


On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Rebecca Lieb has published more research on content marketing than anyone else in the field.  As a strategic adviser, her clients range from start-up to non-profits to Fortune 100 brands and regulated industries. She's worked with brands...

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Comments

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Commenter: Moe Rubenzahl

2011, May 11

Great article. Content is king. And I think it's more important for B2B because that's a key way customers judge technical competence.

We have 2500 technical articles and application notes, almost all written by our own, in-house engineers. We have a bonus program and we give certain engineering groups quarterly goals. It's not too difficult to enforce because engineers like to show what they know.

And nothing delivers on search engine optimization like technical content. It's not easy -- but it's a big win.