Hiring a Content Marketing Team for 2017 and Beyond

by Emily E. Steck

Hiring a Content Marketing Team for 2017 and Beyond

Content marketing is here to stay, but make no mistake: it’s growing quickly. To be sure, the content marketing of 2013, 2014 and 2015 will look different from the content marketing of 2017, 2018 and 2019. That’s because content marketing is growing in scale, and as quality content proves to be an invaluable resource for brands to grow their businesses, the standard for quality (and quantity of) content has increased. Thus, the size of content marketing teams and the volume of work are growing exponentially more sophisticated and competitive.

As 2017 draws nearer, those looking to scale their content marketing understand that budgets and teams must inevitably grow larger. But how can brands and agencies optimize their resources to build an all-star content marketing team? One way is to look to the future of content marketing hiring trends. We’ve created a framework—consisting of content strategy, creation and distribution—for evaluating how to hire a team with a skill set for 2017 and beyond.

1. Editorial Planners + Business Analysts = Content Strategists

Content strategists often come from one of two backgrounds: either in publishing (ex. editorial planners or audience development experts) or through working in a more traditional marketing environment (ex. strategic planners at advertising agencies). But the content strategists that will be hired in 2017 will have to have familiarity with both of these backgrounds. Not only will they need experience and expertise in editorial and ideation but they’ll need to know keyword research, competitive research, tracking a consumer’s lifecycle, analyzing content performance and more. In other words, understanding the story angle is just as important as understanding the core consumer insight.

In the world of editorial, it’s integral for editorial planners to know how to tell a story. A compelling, original story requires skills in multimedia production, original reporting, fact checking and beyond. Most editorial planners have backgrounds in journalism or publishing, which are traditionally good at developing audiences, themes, story ideas and angles. In the world of content marketing, editorial planners are incredibly important when it comes to content strategy because they can come up with hooks, angles and ideas that will effectively resonate with audiences. But most importantly, editorial planners are responsible for planning and executing a story.

On the flip side of editorial lies marketing. Marketing seeks to understand the consumer by collecting and analyzing data, and then putting that data to use. This is where analysts come in. Analysts often have a background in finding predictive patterns in data to understand consumer habits and trends. Today’s analysts need both analytical and technical skills. Those who can calculate, crunch and calibrate numbers that analyze the performance of a piece of content on owned and paid channels are imperative. According to DMA’s 2016 Statistical Factbook on marketing, 70% of companies are still not collecting data from social media channels. As more and more social platforms privatize and restrict data collection from third-party companies (RIP SharedCount), content strategists who can mine data from these social platforms—in addition to Google Analytics, third-party software and other apps—are key. Additionally, they need marketing technology skills. Analysts who can orchestrate the delivery and tracking of content marketing programs through marketing automation platforms and measuring the customer experience are vital to any campaign.

Moving forward, the modern day content strategist will need to be part-editorial planner and part-analyst. Essentially, they’re responsible for answering questions like “What’s the story angle based on data-driven research?” or “How can we create content for this holiday in the content marketing funnel?” That’s because content strategists are the mediators who make the marriage between the art and science of content marketing work. Content strategists—those who plan and measure campaigns—are essential to any good content marketing team. So invest in good, competent and well-rounded content strategists for 2017.

(Or, hire Quietly to put that plan in place and give your team a sound strategy to work from. Just saying.)

2. “Experimental” Content Creators

In Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 B2B report, 73% of respondents planned to create even more content this year than the year before. Though the survey isn’t out yet for 2017, it’s not hard to deduce that brands and agencies will look to spend more on content creation in the year to come. If brands and agencies are looking to hire more content strategists, it’s logical to assume they’ll look to hire more content creators.

Many content creators have roots in traditional journalism. Traditional journalists are trained to have the discipline and rigour to do their research and tell a compelling story. They need to think about their audience, traditional channels and formats to create content. On the other hand, newer content creators—those who have flourished in Web 2.0—may not have a journalism background but are early adopters to new channels. These are your Snapchatters, your Instagrammers, your influencers who think outside of the box to create different kinds of stories in new formats for new channels.

Today, content creators need to know how to tell a traditional story—hint, like journalists—but also have the skills and ingenuity to adapt their storytelling skills to new channels—not unlike social media mavens. This is already happening with video, podcasts and channel-centric content, like Snapchat’s Discover. And it will continue to happen as marketing turns to more experimental fields, like virtual reality and augmented reality.

3. Distribution

How do you hire for distribution? Especially for channels that are inherently social by nature? Should your brand lean on editorial managers who know the “story” and their intended audience or should you work with community managers who understand how to converse on a social channel? Or what about the content strategists who understand the data and audience development strategy, like we mentioned above? These are questions that content marketing has struggled with in the past, but in 2017, brands will hire independent ad specialists—or ad specialists through a content marketing partner.

An ad specialist’s job is to figure out how to publish content on specialized platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc.—and pay money to those channels to amplify a content’s reach, engagement and conversions. A good ad specialist will know all about those metrics for each platform and/or channel, along with optimization, amplification, dollars spent and audience development. They specialize in using the least amount of money for the maximum ROI.

Let’s be clear, though: an ad specialist is not a community manager. A community manager is one who communicates with brand loyalists and potential leads through various social media channels. Their job definitely overlaps with what a social media manager and even what a content marketing manager does. But an ad specialist understands the performance marketing drive behind distribution in a pay-to-play world. And in 2017, as more and more brands realize they need to utilize both owned and paid channels, they’ll hire ad specialists to help better distribute paid content.

Of course, these are just suggestions to consider when casting and staffing your content marketing team. Moreover, content marketing teams will vary in size so you may have multiple skill sets that complete the framework we’re outlining here. For example, enterprise organizations with a marcomms department of 200 people can justify hiring full-time content strategists, community managers, content creators and ad specialists whereas a small business may only have the budget to hire one jack of all trades who can handle all of the content marketing. It’s all about evaluating the costs of your content marketing.

If you’re confident in your ability to navigate what the future of content marketing demands, great. But if you’re unsure about ramping up your team and making the investment in more team members, work with a content marketing partner like Quietly.

Understand how Quietly can help play a role in your content marketing efforts.

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