When we think about content management, most people consider the different programs that manage digital content. While they’re not wrong, there’s a lot more to content management than your CMS. I like to think of content management more holistically; it’s not just a technical means of handling ‘stuff’, but the methods and skills required to do this more effectively. Content management is a platform, a process and a person (or a team of people).
The evolution of content management
For as long as we’ve been creating and sharing content, we’ve needed ways to manage it. And I’m not just talking about digital content. When we break down the basic idea of content management, we quickly realise that museums and libraries are some of the very best and first solutions. Even ancient civilisations had them.
Fast forward to today, and we’ve adapted this technique of content management into the digital world. We can now organise and consolidate our content in one dedicated place online. We understand the process of planning, creating, editing and distributing content. Dedicated content management roles also now exist, overseeing the whole process. Content management isn’t just a piece of software, it’s a fully-fledged element of the marketing mix.
Content Management Systems
A content management system (CMS) is an efficient way to create, host and share content, eliminating the need for programming. A CMS will provide functionalities to handle large amounts of content, whilst reining easy to use and control. There are dozens of CMS applications available, and even the most experienced programmers will often opt out of coding in favour of one of these systems, because it can seriously speed up the development process. When it comes to the less tech savvy, a CMS is again hugely beneficial. All changes to the website are monitored, and the really important stuff can’t be changed and broken (without the knowledge to do so, of course).
As mentioned, there are plenty of content management systems to choose from. You will have certainly heard of WordPress, and possibly Drupal and Magento. If you’re a blogger, you might also use Blogger. If you’re running a shop, you might use Shopify, which offers a number of CMS features. The content management system you choose will depend on your requirements. An additional CMS may also be integrated with your existing website, such as a WordPress blog being added to an HTML site for the ease of content creators.
A company’s selection criteria will take into consideration their industry, scale of operations and budget, along with their team’s capacity for and knowledge of development and content management.
Here are three of the most popular content management systems and their benefits:
- Free, open-source CMS – (that means anyone can modify the source code to suit them)
- The world’s most popular CMS.
- Quick, easy, simple admin panel. You don’t need any PHP or HTML knowledge.
- Very flexible – preinstalled templates and lots of plugins to achieve your desired effect. Option to code up your own looks and functionalities too.
- Great for beginners.
- Big, helpful support community and discussion boards – if you’ve got a question, there’s a strong chance someone else has already asked it (and it’s been answered!)
- One of the most comprehensive systems available.
- Favoured by most programmers.
- Lots of advanced functionalities that can create a range of websites, and manage a variety of types of content.
- Thousands of plugins available, and the opportunity to create your own.
- Requires advanced knowledge to install and use – definitely not for beginners.
- One of the most popular e-commerce platforms, exclusively built for e-commerce.
- 1 in 4 online businesses use Magento.
- Again, open-source, so you can create unique experiences and integrate with third party services.
- Can handle large catalogues of products.
- Multiple capabilities with currency and language.
- Scalable – it will grow with your business.
- Complex to use, and requires extensive knowledge of PHP.
The process of content management and the role of a content manager
Content management refers to the planning, creating, managing, distributing, hosting and evaluating of all the content that a business owns. Effective content management will streamline a brand’s content processes and solve their unique challenges. Larger enterprises will likely have a dedicated team of individuals working on the content management team, or they’ll work with a specialist agency. SMEs may employ one or two individuals to oversee the process, while smaller businesses with limited budget will outsource to a freelancer, or delegate the work between themselves.
No matter the scale of the business, content management remains a key feature of the digital strategy, and it’s important to allocate a person or team of people the responsibilities. These include:
- Content audits
- Audience personas
- Customer journey mapping
- Editorial calendar
- Keyword research
- Content creation
- Social media and outreach
- Performance analysis
The overarching responsibility of a content manager is to ensure a business’s content is up to date, easy to find, valuable and relevant to the audience (as well as appeasing the search engine). In doing this, they can secure the benefits of an effective content strategy and help the brand flourish online.