“Nobody works in a vacuum anymore — collaboration is changing the way we do business.”
Those words have echoed the halls of offices everywhere for the past few years — because they’re true. In fact, 97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project. As a result, companies are knocking down cubicles and creating common spaces for employees to connect and work through tasks together. We’ve seen this to be especially true with marketing companies, like ours, that rely on a diverse set of skills from a team of people to complete a single project.
But what if your workplace is 100% virtual? It’s not as easy to gather everyone together in a group when they’re spread out across the country, or even the world. Social Tribe knows a thing or two about this. As a completely virtual company that is also growing quickly, we are constantly looking for ways to scale our work in a collaborative and strategic way.
One area that I personally find challenging is scaling content production. In a previous blog post, I stressed how important content creation is in our current “trust” economy. Blogs need to be written, creative assets need to be created, and promotion needs to go out, all in a timely manner. They have to be planned out in advance, and everyone involved must do their part to make sure these items are well thought out, polished, and that they accurately reflect the brand. With a virtual workforce, how can you make sure your content production comes together seamlessly and is scalable? (tweet this)
Let me give you some insight into how we do it.
Manage your content calendar using collaborative tools
In my year and a half of working in content marketing for a virtual company, I have learned that content calendar management is only as good as the tools you use to manage it. For us, the tool we use to manage our editorial calendar is Smartsheet. For you, it might be something different, but we are big fans of Smartsheet because it was designed to be a fully collaborative tool. Think of it as Excel spreadsheets but with more capabilities and functionalities, all living in the cloud. Everyone on your team has full transparency into where a project stands (complete with status buttons and color-coding galore) and what actions are needed to get it to the finish line.
Using a collaborative tool like this allows you to rally your team around dates and deliverables and foster accountability. When setting up your content calendar, be sure to include all the necessary fields, such as due dates, publish dates, authors, artwork, topic / theme, and promotion schedule. Here’s an example of what a collaborative content calendar can look like:
(image credit: Smartsheet.com)
Create a production process
You’ve got your content calendar set up, and now it’s time to put your team to work. But first you need to establish a process to turn content production into a well-oiled machine. Here’s some insight into how we’ve structured our internal content production process:
- Think ahead – what topics / themes are coming up over the next few months? Add those to your editorial calendar and assign a publish date to them well in advance. Our goal is to build up a content library each quarter, and publish least one piece per week so we aren’t scrambling week-to-week to get something out.
- Headcount — how many people are needed to complete this piece of content? If you know you need a writer, a designer, and an SEO specialist, make sure you include all of them and their respective tasks and due dates in the process.
- Accountability — Create a checklist for each task and hold everyone accountable for checking off their to-do lists before the due date.
Establish subject matter experts
Everyone on your team has their own specializations and skills. Tap into the subject matter experts in your own organization first before outsourcing. No one knows your business better than its employees, and creating content from their perspective brings a level of humanity and experience that will resonate with your audience. (tweet this)
For example, my colleague Emily is an expert in data and reporting, because that’s a big part of her job and she’s a rockstar at it. So when we have a blog topic in the calendar that talks about measuring success using data and reporting, she’s the first person I’ll turn to for insights and collaboration.
Have regular check-ins
Turn your team into a publishing machine by holding regular check-ins. Bring together your content creators regularly to:
- Have productive brainstorming sessions
- Uncover stories waiting to be explored – especially stores of client or employee successes
- Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and performance of existing content
- Discuss industry news/trends and take advantage of real-time opportunities
- Provide an open forum to strategize content production (like a Slack channel)
Optimize and repurpose
Who says one piece of content needs to stay one piece of content? (tweet this) Use that highly-skilled team of yours to turn one asset into multiple assets that you can repurpose on an ongoing basis. For example, one blog post can also become:
- A GIF
- Sharable graphics
- An infographic
- A video
- A podcast
- An instagram post
And so on. Keeping a robust library of content will help you manage content production without having to reinvent the wheel.
Are you a growing or virtual business? How do you scale your content production? We want to hear about it! Please leave a note in the comments. If you are interested in contributing to our blog, please fill out a form on the Contact page. We’d love to hear from you!