Ultimate Guide to Web Content Part 4: Managing Multiple Authors

- February 23, 2016

With the overwhelming importance of content to today’s online marketing landscape, many brands are struggling to keep pace with the volume necessary. Common challenges include:

  • Having the resources to produce all the content necessary
  • Maintaining quality and expertise in the presence of quantity demands
  • Fragmentation of content types – from short form to long form, webpages, blog posts, social media marketing content, guides and ebooks, and more.

As a response to these challenges, based on individualized need, or as a result of internal organization, some brands are fortunate enough to tap into and draw from a wide-range of authors and content producers. For those with limited resources who are having trouble keeping up with their content demands, having several or many authors to leverage may sound like a windfall, but managing those resources can be a challenge unto itself. If you’re trying to manage multiple authors for your brand, here are some tips:

Centralize where you can

Different writers means plenty of room for disparity, so foster consistency where possible:

  • Maintain a clear Branding Guidelines book – or create one – that includes:
    • Required elements of brand style
    • Word restrictions / preferences
    • Channel restrictions / preferences
  • Establish a centralized editor with a clearly documented process for drafts, revisions, internal reviews (as required), and publishing
  • Designate a centralized publisher(s) – this can be by channel (one publisher for the blog or for the website), or by effort (one publisher across all social media channels). While this can be impossible in very large organizations, it is useful to consolidate publishing access and responsibility to as few folks as possible.

Maintain a shared content calendar

With one author planning is essential, with multiple authors it is impossible to ignore. Your shared content calendar can be in any format your organization prefers (Google doc, spreadsheet, content manager platform, etc.), and can be used to:

  • Outline all content needed across all channels
  • Establish topics and avoid inadvertent overlap, while fostering synergy among writers to cross-reference other materials and tie smaller pieces together into larger ecosystems of thought leadership (this holistic approach is also aided by the central editor(s), when you can employ one).
  • Track details and deadlines
  • Provide keyword targeting recommendations / usage for the team see and leverage
  • Organize available resources – such as multimedia that authors can tap into, internal experts who can be utilized for interviews, product and service information, etc.

Ghostwriters & Thought Leaders

Brands with multiple authors may have a range of anonymous content that is published throughout their website, social media, etc., that is not attributed to any single author – but just comes from the brand. This “ghostwritten” content needs to maintain a common voice, and adhere to the defined marketing message, while still being authoritative and knowledgeable. Leveraging your Branding Guidelines Book and centralized editor(s) will help, but we also recommend custom training for all your writers to teach them the fundamentals – and be sure they’ve all received the same instruction. Depending on your needs from those writers, your training should include:

  • Strategy development – how to create topics and select keywords to target
  • SEO tactics – how to optimize on- and/or offsite content, Best Practices and search engine guidelines
  • Brand considerations – overview of Branding Guidelines, writing and review process, publishing process, etc.
  • Marketing considerations – target audience(s), personas being written for, stages of the buyer journey, desired tone, etc.

You may also have thought leaders who are experts in their field(s), but may or may not be talented writers. For your brand, you may consider whether internal experts should:

  • Produce their own content with little intervention
  • Be interviewed by writing staff for the content to be ghostwritten
  • Be sourced for topic recommendations – and suggestions for research resources
  • Draft their content with editorial changes / rewrites as needed to polish without changing meaning

Supporting experts to promote their thought leadership

In addition to content creation, thought leaders can help further your brand’s reach. You may consider providing them unique training on how they can leverage their own social media presence (such as LinkedIn or Twitter) to further disseminate their content and knowledge or you may, as a brand, assist in managing their Professional Profiles and/or ghost writing content for those channels to maximize their effectiveness.

Having multiple authors can be an asset, provided that a company is well-organized and strategic for how it leverages them. For more tips for your brand’s content marketing see Parts 1, 2, and 3 in our ongoing series on improving Web Content.

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