Holding the title of Content Manager comes with a vast amount of responsibilities; only so much of which can be conveyed on the job description. According to a recent study, 91% of B2B companies are currently using content marketing, compared to 86% of B2C. With nearly all companies realizing how vital it is, everyone is trying to do something different to stand out. Creative and technical minds are working like crazy to add something new to the echo chambers of their industry.
As a new content manager, you are at the helm of a company’s innovative messaging. Being as how each organization, process, and team are different, the truth is that there will be plenty of things you will end up learning the hard way.
There are several harsh realities you need to come to terms with before you even sign up for the job – you are going to figure them out regardless. Let’s talk about three of the big ones.
1. Talented Writers Do Not Grow on Trees
Any good content strategy is built on a foundation of high quality writing. It’s the writer’s job to convey brand messaging, adhere to a specific brand voice, explain concepts in a relatable way, and create value. Whether it be through website copy, blog posts, video scripts, etc., the writer sitting behind the keyboard makes all the difference between truly innovative content and content that just adds to the noise.
While these are the base level requirements of a good writer, the real talent comes in the form of versatility – especially when working in an agency. In addition to being a skilled wordsmith, a writer must play the role of a student with an undying sense of curiosity, as well as an engaging teacher. For instance, an agency writer might need to spend their morning researching and writing about the granular details of the latest Google algorithm update, then spend the afternoon writing a piece about kitchen cabinets. They need to be able to switch gears quickly and effectively. This is one of the many reasons why finding rock star writers is an incredibly tough task.
To an industry expert, it’s painfully obvious when a writer has no idea what they are talking about.
Unfortunately, the common critiques of most run-of-the-mill writers are along the lines of:
“The content was very basic.”
“The content is not thought leadership material.”
“The piece needed so much editing, it would have been faster to write it myself.”
“The content did a poor job of engaging the target audience.”
Truth be told, coming across a talented writer on the open job market requires a certain degree of luck, as most companies know how valuable they are and will hold onto them at all costs. As a content manager, you need to become an expert at spotting potential (especially if you have a limited budget). During the hiring process, look for diversity in their body of work.
- How many industries have they written for?
- Can they flip flop well between B2B and B2C?
- Do they have agency experience?
Additionally, you need to examine their writing samples under a microscope.
- How well are they able to explain concepts to an expert audience?
- Can they simplify difficult concepts for a noviceaudience?
Have them write one or two new samples for you to prove this on the fly.
A great place to start looking for writers is on the freelance market. In terms of content marketing, WriterAccess offers an exclusive platform for marketing writers. It also offers a number of statistics on each writer to help you understand their abilities.
A good strategy is to begin the hiring process by outsourcing a few jobs with short deadlines. If the freelancer can perform at a high level, you can offer them full time work.
The harsh reality of hiring content writers is that on average, if you are lucky, one out of every ten will be a straight shooter. If you find an exceptional writer, keep them! Additionally, they know their value to a company, so be ready to pay them well or else they will have no problem finding the door.
2. Even the Best Employees Can Be Stifled by a Bad Culture Fit
The term ‘culture fit’ gets thrown around a lot these days.
In a nutshell, this concept refers to an employee’s behaviors and beliefs being aligned with that of the company. Unfortunately, this is something that can rarely be determined by a resume or cover letter.
Content marketing teams require a certain dynamic where creativity and strategy meet. When push comes to shove, innovative content is a result of the unified, forward-looking internal culture. As a new content manager, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that talent should always trump the ability to get along and relate with co-workers. However, as great as this may sound at first, the reality is that being on the outside of a company’s values, energy, and general outlook is enough to hold anyone back – regardless of their skill level. For this reason, culture fit is something that needs to be emphasized before anyone is added to the team.
To reiterate, culture fit is not something that can be easily gauged on a resume, cover letter, or even a series of interviews. In the old days, culture fit didn’t really become clear until a few weeks – or months – into the job. While there will always be a certain degree of guesswork, there are resources available these days to give managers a lot of valuable information before bringing someone onboard. AI-based tools like Harver can be used to match candidates with the cultural profile of your company. In addition to an automated process to score resumes and experience, the system runs personalized assessments to gauge communication skills, professional values, problem-solving ability, and more. With this information, the system draws on a wide range of public and company-specific datasets and uses predictive analytics to judge a candidate’s match potential.
As a content manager, you have a strong influence over how the internal culture forms and develops. If you want the best results from your team, you need to have the values and behavioral templates firmly established. Moreover, you need to have an airtight system in place to know whether or not a team member fits the mold. If you can do this well, everyone wins.
3. No Strategy or Campaign Will Be Perfect
Expecting perfection in content marketing is simply not feasible unless you want to set yourself up for disappointment. Regardless of how skilled and savvy your team is, the bulk of content marketing is so subjective that pleasing EVERYONE all the time is not an attainable goal.
While you certainly want to be a firm content manager who expects a lot from writers, designers, and strategists, demanding perfection is only going to make you look unreasonable. Sure, a decent amount of campaigns might go off without a hitch. However, the reality of content marketing management is there are so many variables that are simply out of your control. For example, some campaigns might have ambiguous goals, site editors might not accept the content you produce/delete the target link, or the client might just be super picky and fickle. There are a million ways a content marketing campaign can veer off the track.
Now, as cliché as this sounds, the key is to expect the unexpected. Good content managers have plenty of tricks up their sleeve to adjust to a situation and navigate around roadblocks. For example, let’s say a client REALLY wants a brand mention on a particular website. When the article is published, it turns out the editor removed the mention completely. The client is going to be very upset.
As the manager, you are going to need a backup plan. Perhaps this means a mention on a similar site or a plan to submit new content to the original. Furthermore, you are going to need to explain what happened to the client and sell your backup plan. In essence, this is what being a content manager is all about. You need to accept the fact going in that a campaign might look a bit different at the end than it did during the planning stage.
Now, from an internal perspective, your operation should be viewed as a constant working progress. Every campaign is going to come with its fair share of successes and failures. Refinement in content marketing stems from previous imperfections. Following a campaign, you should make it a habit to sit down with the team and discuss the wins and losses, as well as brainstorm how everyone can build on the past and improve as a whole.
If you work with a remote team, you need to invest in the right tools to make these meetings as fruitful as possible. A program like ezTalks is great for this purpose. It allows managers to conduct meetings with quick file sharing, screen sharing, group chats, interactive whiteboards, and more.
Being as how no content marketing campaign or strategy will ever be completely flawless, these meetings are crucial for getting a little better each time.
Over to You
So, you are about to take on the exciting responsibility of managing a content team.
There’s no denying that all the responsibilities of this job can be intimidating at first. In addition to the realities mentioned above, it is going to take some time to find the groove and learn all the unsaid intricacies that come with the role. As time goes on, you will learn a lot about yourself, your team members, and navigating the treacherous and ever-evolving landscape of content marketing.
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