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5 steps to create a content governance that actually works

Marketing
Olena Teselko
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Storyblok is the first headless CMS that works for developers & marketers alike.

No matter what business you run, content is what you need to show and promote your products or services. But we all know that it doesn't come from nowhere and that content management is complex. This becomes especially noticeable as the business scales and more people get involved in the process. That’s when companies turn to content governance. 

What is content governance? 

Content governance is a broad set of company-wide rules for content management. It covers all stages of content workflow, such as planning, creation, editing, and distribution, and serves as a guide for each stakeholder involved in the process. 

For example, it can specify particular content planning and editing tools, assign responsible team members, or include detailed guidelines for authors. 

There is no unified model for content governance, as each organization has to create it internally depending on the current goals and available resources. As a result, the frameworks vary between companies in terms of tools, expectations, and standards.

Content governance illustration

Benefits of implementing content governance

Since content governance is complex, many teams try to postpone implementing this framework or doubt they actually require one. Small companies might think they don't need it as content demand is not too high and would seem easily manageable. On the other hand, large enterprises have too many processes and people involved, so it seems too difficult to break or change previous models. 

Well, establishing a content governance model definitely requires extra time and effort, but the results are totally worth it. Keeping things in order has never been a drawback, right? 

So, the main advantages of setting up a content governance framework are: 

1. Consistency of content

Having all the guidelines together in one place, it would be much easier for the team to create content that adheres to the same technical requirements, tone of voice, and brand guidelines. Hence, all the produced content pieces would be consistent and complement each other instead of being contradicting. Consistency across all communication channels is crucial as customers now expect that brands will offer an even experience for them. Coherence with customers allows brands to build trust and better relations with the target audience. 

2. Better planning

While building a content governance model for your team, it's critical to determine the further steps and establish how you'll plan them. Basically, you have to end up with the content workflow guide, which covers not only what content to create but also how you'll do it. You can, for example, document brainstorming practices, step-by-step instructions on content creation, editing rules, post-production, distribution, and analysis, among other things. Once you have a detailed content pipeline and structure, planning and producing new pieces will be much easier and more effective.

3. Enhanced collaboration

With the plan in place, all that remains is for people to carry it out. Many businesses continue to struggle with disorganized processes, resulting in situations where team members don't clearly understand their responsibilities. Because no one is directly accountable for particular tasks, they frequently overlap. Or, vice versa, non-assigned tasks are forgotten and never completed. With content governance, all team members know their responsibilities and how they should collaborate with others. 

4. Higher quality

Having all the guides at your fingertips simplifies setting up the review process as they ensure that all the content is not only up to date and relevant, but also matches the company's quality standards. This is especially relevant if the company has multiple content sources to manage and control, such as an in-house team, partners, agencies, outsourcing authors, and contributors. 

5 steps to create a content governance

We've compiled a five-step guide to make it easier for companies to build a content framework that would suit them better and not forget important details. 

1. Create editorial guidelines

Such a document will be the base of all the content-related work. If you already have one, we'd recommend double-checking it and upgrading if needed. The main idea of such guidelines is to unify all the requirements, how-tos, and rules. 

What should be included in editorial guidelines:

a. Tone of voice. This is the way your company communicates. TOV explains how the brand should sound and how the audience should perceive it. For example, Oatly, a famous plant-based dairy brand, has a distinct tone of voice that sets it apart from the competition. In its advertisement, Oatly often sounds sarcastic to grab attention. And it works well as the primary audience is young people who like honest and open communication rather than traditional and boring messages.

b. Writing guidelines. Apart from the emotional style, also specify more technical things such as formatting, spelling of particular terms, capitalization, acronyms, symbols, punctuation, and so on. This helps all your content look clear and compelling.

c. Visual style. Visualization is one of the first components of any brand a consumer interacts with. Hence, all visual communication should adhere to a single pattern to create a consistent brand image. Similarly to writing guidelines, this information should also be stored in one place. Some call it a brand book, some a design guide, but the idea is the same: it's a collection of all visual materials with instructions on how to use them properly. Be sure to mention such elements as logos and ways to use them, brand colors and their combinations, fonts and typography, illustrations, photos, etc. 

Suppose your business involves a lot of photography. In that case, you can also specify which types and styles of images are compatible with your brand, how to edit them correctly, what models to work with, or how to make product snaps. Tech companies also include product screenshots that can be used for PR and communications. Slack, for example, has a detailed media kit covering all the mentioned aspects and more. And what's cool – it can be used internally, by partners, media, and external contributors simultaneously. 
d. Content architecture. Like the backbone, content architecture sets the base and provides the structure for content, helping to enhance user experience. It can include wireframes, taxonomy, and templates.

2. Make all the materials accessible

A problem that many teams face is the lack of information. Frequently, people just don't know that any kind of guideline exists within the company. Unfortunately, this may lead to situations where employees might miscommunicate important things, use wrong messaging, or even unintentionally spread misinformation. 

Therefore, it's crucial to inform all employees, even those who don't work with content directly, that the company has content policies. They should be easily accessible and up-to-date. For example, you can store them in Notion, shared Google Docs, pinned messages, or in any other place where people can find them. 

3. Establish content workflows

Content creation is another process that should have a step-by-step plan. Consider a procedure for each type of content as it simplifies planning, execution, and analysis. 

Content workflow explained

For example, the typical content workflow includes such steps:

  1. Brainstorm ideas and outline them into tasks.
  2. Assign ideas to writers or other content creators. 
  3. Create a piece of content. 
  4. Review the material.
  5. Edit content if needed.
  6. Optional: assign the task to another person (for example, writer creates a ticket for design, photographer sends pictures for retouching, author hands the scenario over to a video creator, etc.)
  7. Review again.
  8. Approve.
  9. Post.
  10. Distribute.
  11. Analyze.
  12. Edit over time. 

hint:

Storyblok allows you to create your custom content workflows to make content management even more flexible and adjusted to your team's needs

4. Assign responsibilities

Defining the roles is what seems obvious, right? Nevertheless, it's a common issue in organizations when the whole team discusses ideas, but no one is assigned a particular task. The likelihood of it never being completed is significant in such a circumstance. Another issue is failing to set deadlines. Again, this leaves the chance to postpone the work again and again. Establishing clear roles and deadlines among team members increases transparency and simplifies tracking the content generation process. And don't forget to repeat this process with freelancers, contractors, or agencies you partner with. 

5. Analyze the results of implementing the content governance

Even if it seems perfect, the content governance process requires maintenance. The reason is that business processes might change over time, as well as goals or the team structure. Hence, we'd recommend that you review the model from time to time and analyze if it serves well for everyone. Speak to colleagues to find out how you can improve the processes. Also, don't forget to refresh the team's knowledge of it and onboard all the new employees as well as external content creators.

How Storyblok helps customers to establish their content governance 

As a headless content management system, Storyblok provides its users with features that help content creators stick to the content governance plan. The robust set of collaboration tools enables content creators to collaborate during the creation process by using comments, as well as set up custom workflows and schedule content. Meanwhile, due to the component-based approach, our clients can develop templates and even whole sets of reusable components matching their style. Juggling the ready-made blocks and elements, marketers are free to build content without the help of developers. 

One of our clients, Marc O'Polo, was looking for a solution allowing them to manage localization, omnichannel publishing, content governance, and other content-related tasks. Implementing Storyblok to their tech stack, the team was more than happy with the quick yet scalable results. Read the case study to learn how Marc O'Polo benefits from switching to a headless CMS.