Silo. A term once used only in the farming industry to mean a dry place to store crops.
Today we in the corporate world use silo to refer departments or groups within an organization that operate in isolation.
Silos on farms are good. Silos within an organization is, well, not so good. When a group in an organization is isolated, communication and cooperation are difficult to achieve. And when there is a lack of communication and collaboration, it becomes difficult for anyone to achieve their goals, much less fulfilling the organization's mission.
When it comes to content, the silo problem manifests itself in two primary ways:
- Duplicate content
- Too much content
The result is poor SEO, wasted efforts, and negative ROI on the content that is produced.
No one wants those things. So how do we improve collaboration across functional content teams and get them to think as one team?
Find common ground
There must be something each group has in common. After all, you work for the same organization. Start at the organization-wide goals. What does the organization want to accomplish? Those are everyone's goals, though the strategies, objectives, and tactics may be different.
Find out who else is using the same tactic of "publishing content" to achieve their objectives and see if you can share each other's content. No sense in two people writing blog posts and broadcasting them on social when you are both trying to promote the same webinar. Instead, divide and conquer the task of writing and posting, aiming at your target audiences.
Which brings me to the other thing multiple groups have in common: an audience. Who else in your organization has the same intended audience as you? Are you unwittingly bombarding them with emails because you are using separate email lists and different email systems? This is a good way to end up with a lot of unsubscribes, or worse, having emails marked as spam. No one receiving your organization's emails cares that Monica works in the Product division and Jonathan works in Sales.
Have a chat with your colleagues. Acknowledge the risks of not sharing a single email marketing calendar or automated marketing system. Then work to mitigate that risk. Eventually, you will want to create an email strategy that cuts across divisions so you can manage the amount of email that gets sent to the same people.
Set up and use metrics
"If you can't measure it, you can't improve it."
-- Peter Drucker
There is magic in numbers. Instead of getting bogged down in perceived value of the content you produce, look at your analytics data and see what is actually happening with it. Set benchmarks and expectations for how many people should find or engage with content. Map those to your objectives and actual data. For example, if the objective for that webinar mentioned earlier is to get 500 registrants,
- How many people will need to open an email about it?
- How many people will need to click on it?
- How many people will need to view the web page?
- How many people will need to go to the registration form?
- How many people actually sign up?
Only when you look at those numbers--with your colleagues who also want people to attend the webinar--can you know if the content you produce is helping you meet your objectives.
Looking at data will also help you make decisions about what types of content should continue to be created. It will also help you see what topics are most important to your audience. There is really no point in continuing to create content that (virtually) no one reads. And there is a lot of value in boosting content your audience is interested in.
Establish centralized governance and operations
To have ongoing success with your content and leverage it across divisions, you will need to put governance in place and operationalize your content planning and publishing. You can start by doing this for your own group and extending an invitation to others to come into the fold.
Start by documenting existing processes and personnel involved. Just by writing it down, you may find that there has not been a single process for promoting a webinar--even within your own team. Even if you are only documenting what already happens, there will be something to share when new people join the team or you go on vacation--or other teams want to know your secret to success.
Find ways to improve efficiency within existing processes. Map out all the systems you use and who uses them. Audit your emails. Look for duplication of effort, find patterns, and seize opportunities.
All of this is part of your content operations. Organizations who are focusing on this aspect find better ROI from their content because it costs less to produce and helps achieve more objectives--and ultimately strategic goals.
Over time, working to create a collaborative organizational culture will lead you to an advanced level of content strategy maturity. You can make improvements along the way by doing what you can with what you have control over, finding allies, and sharing your success with others.
If you want to get a jump start on doing all of this for your organization, join me for the upcoming Content Operations training. Come with the inputs of people, processes, and systems and leave with a draft plan for making them more efficient and effective.