Sure, silos have their place in our world, generally. Their structure allows us to describe the unique roles and responsibilities within complex organizations and corporate environments. But, as teams work in increasing isolation from one another, these same silos create unnecessary misperceptions and ultimately thwart our very best efforts—particularly when it comes to content marketing, content strategy, and SEO initiatives.
Content initiatives are known to die a slow death when creation and distribution aren’t clearly aligned across the organization—including marketing, social, interactive/digital, and communications groups. Adding to the complexity, individuals, departments, or product lines might elect to “do their own thing.”
A fractured approach to content marketing runs the risk of competing with itself, while wasting internal resources and time, frustrating subject matter experts and even greatly diluting or misconstruing the message along the way.
Crafting the Unified Approach
It’s important to articulate your brand as a vehicle for active connection by defining the type of authentic human relationship you hope to foster with your customers. The brand you aspire to be can help to create standards for every aspect of content creation, such as voice and tone.
Next, clearly define the purpose of your content. What will your content accomplish, and for whom? A definitive goal will help to provide a foundation for you to begin working to break down silos. It will be a tool to demonstrate success as you retrospect your content strategy.
Creating a plan for how content will be assigned, created, distributed, and maintained is key to developing effective content. A strong content strategy can help to prevent situations where multiple departments work against each other by working on the same story simultaneously. When drafting a strategy, focus on building a repeatable, scalable process that allows for clear communication and shared governance.
Consider forming a content editorial or advisory group with stakeholders from various departments and product lines to develop and govern a centralized strategy. Train departmental contacts on the new process and work to make sure that they remain connected to the shared goal. Include process maintenance in your strategy by holding monthly summits or editorial planning meetings, sending weekly internal newsletters, and setting up quarterly check-ins and reviews to help keep efforts aligned.
Herding The Cats
No matter how coordinated your team is, there will always be “rebels,” individuals who opt to do it their way and believe that they are able to succeed on their own (which may or may not be true). They can be challenging to bring into the fold.
While it’s easy to view these individuals as problem children, try to approach them instead with some compassion. Demonstrate ways the unified plan will help them by showing how internal efficiencies and streamlined standards can help them to focus on unique storytelling and increased time to focus on strategic alignment to business goals or ROI. Find a way to help them understand that content strategy isn’t about controlling content creation; it’s about creating better content in a more efficient way.
Then you must expose the hard realities via the sharing of analytics and data. You can demonstrate the confusion with some samples of how duplicate content can dilute search efforts and impair a clear task pathway. You can also provide examples of times that parallel content efforts wasted precious resources, such as time or money.
Be ready to share past success stories, which can help to usher resistant individuals into adopting a core strategy. After just one or two “rebels” begin using the new process, the rest will fall in line.
Get to Breaking
It’s natural to want to protect your silos. However, safeguarding our perceived and real empires can actually impede success.
If creating a collaborative approach seems like an impossible task, begin by identifying where the disconnects occur and why they came to exist in your organization. Then, make an effort to reach out to the right people and start a conversation about the benefits of a cohesive content strategy. Rather than focusing on the differences or competing priorities of the internal departments, concentrate on the goal similarity and common ground. Emphasize how much stronger the initiative would be, if only it were backed by all parties.