In this week's episode of The Onlinification Pod, we spoke about content boards - what is a content board, why do you need one, and what difference could it make to your content? Listen to find out.
At Zooma, we've been having monthly content board meetings for a while now. The content board is made up of a group of people from different areas of Zooma who guide, advise and direct the content team in their production work. The whole idea is to inject a stream of new ideas and opinions into the content process to make sure all of our content is relevant for ourselves and our customers.
In my opinion, every B2B company that produces content should have a content board. To get you off the ground, Doug and I recorded this episode where we discussed who should be invited to be a member of your company's content board and how the board can impact and improve the company's content. We also talked about a couple of real-life examples where our content board meetings have led to valuable, successful pieces of content.
Take a listen, and hopefully, you'll get inspired to assemble a content board of your own. Enjoy, and subscribe to the podcast app of your choice using the links below. You can also take a look at the transcription if you're in a rush.
Alexander Evjenth: [00:00:00] How are you, Doug?
Doug Bolton: [00:00:02] I'm good, I'm good. How are you?
AE: [00:00:04] Yeah, I'm good. Last week here in Spain, we're going home next Tuesday. So it's a bit, uh, mixed feelings.
DB: [00:00:13] Yeah, I can imagine it's not the best time to come back to Sweden. You'll have to hang up your surfboard for the winter.
AE: [00:00:22] Yeah, probably for a year when I think about it. We don't have any more surf trips planned this year. So yeah, we'll make the most of this last week here. So in today's episode, we're going to talk about specifically content boards, which is one part in the full content process that we kind of designed at Zuma and that we do internally, and implement externally as well for our customers. Yeah, I think, Doug, could you start with just briefly going through the content process?
DB: [00:01:01] Yeah, sure. So the process that we follow at Zooma when we create content is fairly logical really, I don't think it's too revolutionary. You know, you and me are part of the content team here at Zooma, which is a smallish group of people who actually create content on a regular basis. And we have a content team meeting every week and we speak about what we're working on and we share tips, you know, and it's kind of an opportunity to trade our ideas and get some help from the other members. Then aside from that, we also have regular content creation meetings where we book five, six people from Zooma for a couple of hours. And there we just focus on creating content, which is a good way of getting the volume of content that you actually need. And then usually when we work with customers also we do a lot of ghostwriting. So obviously, since we're not experts on the products and solutions that our customers provide, then we need to speak to experts at those companies to get the information we need. And then, you know, we write the article from that and then we have a kind of review process with the expert themselves where they get the first draft and they can leave feedback and get back to us.
DB: [00:02:19] Then when we've created content, we have a content review process. We actually have a meeting later on today for an hour where we, you know, gather a group of people at Zooma, and we basically just proofread the content that's going to be published in the coming week just to make sure that there are no errors and there's no mistakes anywhere, and we haven't presented something in a bad way or anything like that. And then after that, we publish and when we've published all our content, obviously, we have to follow up on it and see what articles are being read, and what the response has been and what topics seem to be performing well and what topics we need to write about a bit more and so on. So that's a, I think it's a fairly standard process that I'm sure a lot of companies that produce content use, you know, it's a team of content creators who create things together in a collaborative way and then review each other's work and follow up, and you get to improve the whole thing over time. But the thing that we're going to speak about today is the content board, which is kind of the central pillar of the whole process, I suppose.
AE: [00:03:28] Yeah. And it might sound complex when you don't have anything to look at, just listen to the process. So we're going to publish an illustration of this process on our Instagram today, zooma_and_friends where you can follow the process that Doug just went through. But yeah, what's the role of the content board in this process, Doug?
DB: [00:03:55] Yeah, the content board is, I don't dare to say that Zooma invented it. Maybe we did. Or maybe we copied the idea from somewhere else. But um, I remember when I joined Zooma, this was a new thing for me. I had worked as a content creator in my old job as well, but we didn't have a group like the content board there. And I remember when I joined, I was a bit confused. Like, what is a content board? I imagined like a kind of board on a wall, you know where you stick post-its with content ideas or something, but it's more like a board of directors, you know, like a board as in a group of people. And the role of the content board is kind of to give direction and guidance and input to the content team about what the content should be doing and who it should be aimed at and what challenges and problems and questions it needs to answer. So for that reason, you kind of have to have a fairly diverse group of people to make up your content board. But obviously, in our content team, it's mostly just made up of content creators like the people who actually are doing the writing and doing the videos, podcasts and so on. So there, you know, we're kind of more focused on the details of the content itself. But the board is is a bit more general. It's more of a kind of guiding force in the whole process.
AE: [00:05:21] So who are the participants in a content board?
DB: [00:05:25] Zooma is a bit of a unique case because I suppose all the people in our content board also create content. You know, in our content board we have Anders, Stellan, Martin Ray, who themselves from time to time also write. But when we've worked with customers to establish content boards for them, then we usually say that as well as a content creator or, you know, the kind of chief content manager who's responsible for the whole content team, there needs to be people from a lot of other areas of the company. So usually some kind of commercial expert is really important to have, so someone who really knows a lot about the products themselves and what kind of what they're for, basically what sort of problems they solve. I also generally think it's good to have people in the content board who are really close to the customers because of course, the idea of all the content you produce is, you know, to reach out to people who either are already customers or people who are likely to become customers. So, you know, if if you want someone who can guide the content team and give them, you know, relevant feedback about what the company's pool of prospects actually wants to hear about, then you need someone who's really close to them. So someone like a kind of sales manager, individual salespeople can be involved. Service is also usually a really good source of content board members, you know, because really, they're the ones who have the most contact with customers. And they also, you know, all of their interactions with customers usually come up when something goes wrong. So that's quite a good insight into the priorities and the challenges of customers.
AE: [00:07:14] Yeah, exactly. And when I work with customers where we have implemented this way of working, it differs a bit depending on the organisation and how they're working with their content. But I would say that in the majority of the content boards I'm in, it consists of the people you mentioned here, content creators, content experts and commercial experts. And what about the timing? How regularly should you have a content board meeting?
DB: [00:07:54] Our content board meetings happen once every month. So the last Wednesday of every month, we have it booked in like a whole year in advance, like a two hour content board meeting. I think that's probably a good, good frequency for us. I believe some customers have them every two months. I guess the important thing is, is that they should be spaced far apart enough that in between the content board meetings, you actually have time to do the things that you've planned. You know, if if you say, OK, we'll have a content board meeting every three weeks, but you have a fairly slow tempo when it comes to content creation, then you're not really going to have much time to really do any of these, these new ideas that have come up in the content board meeting during that time. So then you can't review anything, you can't follow up or develop further on those ideas in the meetings. So, yeah, choose something that feels reasonable so that you actually have time to act on the advice from the content board.
AE: [00:08:54] Yeah. And I think it's also important with keeping up the engagement with the commercial experts, that you don't have it too tight, so that it just feels like a 'blah blah blah' meeting. It's more like, I know some customers who have it every quarter, for example, and then we really have something valuable to discuss, and the time has gone that we have created all the content that was discussed there. Yeah, I think it's easy if you have it too tight, that it's too similar with the topics that you discuss. But yeah, exactly. But as you said, it's depending on the tempo of your content creation.
DB: [00:09:42] And I was just wondering something now we're talking about this, because I'm actually not involved in any content board meetings with our customers, just with the Zooma content board meeting. But what kind of things do you usually discuss in those meetings? Because, you know, for me, a good thing that I get out of our content board meetings is just, you know, ideas of what kinds of content we should be producing, you know, based on really kind of more on the priorities of the company, you know, and the direction in which we should be going. What kind of feedback do you get when you're sitting in these meetings with customers?
AE: [00:10:19] Yeah, it varies sometimes between organisations. I one example is a company where we, I think once every second month, meet with the commercial experts, but they have a lot of different areas. So we have already prepared the topics that we know that these commercial experts are relevant in and that they can share insights with, that we have decided on at the beginning of the year that we should during the year, we should have six different topics. And then for each topic, we put the agenda on the content board, for example. So then the commercial experts for that area is there, and we discuss about what consumers, what their consumers are asking about what is relevant right now. What kind of products do we want to sell at the end? And we come up with ideas for topics, and then we in the content team take that to the next level. Looking at the topics we talked about and looking for the search volumes and then turning those into titles for articles, kind of. But it's so good input, like without the content boards, we wouldn't get those unique angles on different topics. It's very easy to find relevant topics when you do a keyword analysis and so on, because it's information that's out there. But you know, really this niche knowledge and a unique take on it.
DB: [00:12:21] I think it's a good exercise to do for any content creator, really, at a B2B company, even if they do know quite a lot about the product. Like just as an example from my old job, I was a content creator for a B2B company that made, you know, industrial products used in manufacturing, fairly complex products, but, you know, after six months or a year or something on the job, I felt I had a, you know, I had a good understanding of the kinds of challenges that customers have and what products did to solve those challenges and things. So you know, writing about particular aspects of the industry was not so much of a challenge for me, but at the same time, I just didn't have access to those kinds of interesting, wider angles myself, you know, because I wasn't meeting with customers daily. You know, I wasn't involved in the development of new products and stuff. And you know, I still managed to find out those angles sometimes, usually just when chatting to someone, like there was one example, I was just having a conversation with a salesperson who I didn't usually speak to, and he mentioned something about this new kind of regulation that was coming in that was going to really affect our industry and have a big impact on our customers. You know, some kind of obscure EU regulation that you would never hear about on the news, but it was actually quite a big deal for our industry. And, you know, I had no idea about that. So. But that wasn't a part of the content board, I just kind of happened upon that topic, you know, as a coincidence, but for me, it really would have been great to have, you know, those kinds of conversations scheduled like every month or every two months or something, you know, to get a bit of feedback in advance. And I'm sure we could have uncovered a lot more topics like that quite quickly.
AE: [00:14:10] Yeah, and that's a typical thing that you would talk about in a content board, those small niche angles and things.
DB: [00:14:19] I think also you've probably experienced this when you're working with customers, but bringing in these kinds of experts and other commercial people from around the company who maybe usually don't really have much contact with the marketing department, it helps get them kind of engaged and involved and interested, really, in what is actually going on, you know?
AE: [00:14:44] Yeah, that's a very important thing of it all. I mean, they are so passionate and engaged in their commercial offerings and products they work with, and now being able to talk about them, even if they didn't read your blog, blog post before or so. But now, like by being introduced and being part of the process, their interest and engagement really increases among the organisations and the companies that have these content boards. I've seen that they evolve so much more, and content becomes a core part which unifies all the departments, which is really nice to see. So anything else, Doug, that we should talk about related to content boards?
DB: [00:15:42] I don't think so, I think it's, it's, people should really just try out, you know. It's not that difficult of a thing to implement, really. I mean, if your company creates content already, then you probably already have some kind of process in place for, you know, coming up with ideas and some kind of schedule for how often you produce content and how you review it and so on. I don't think that part of the process needs to change so much to exactly how we do it, but I think everyone really would benefit from, you know, thinking of five, six, seven people in the organization who have good knowledge about the industry, about customers, about the products, and who hopefully will also have some kind of interest in contributing to the content and making it better. And just, you know, booking an hour or two with them and starting your first content board meeting, to really see what kind of feedback you get.
AE: [00:16:40] Yeah, that's good closing words from Doug.
DB: [00:16:45] That's a good CTA, right at the end of the podcast.
AE: [00:16:48] Exactly, exactly. So thank you, Doug.
DB: [00:16:55] Thank you very much, see you next time. Bye bye.
AE: [00:16:58] Bye.