How To ‘Govern’ Your Content

Photo by Lianhao Qu on Unsplash

Need a Content Writer? Work with Nick Wyatt/HERE


Life’s all about systems. Whether you pay attention to it or not. We all live in a World that is governed by systems.

From making big purchases such as a car or a home to the even the smallest transactions such as ordering delivery. When used effectively, systems can create freedom and you should use them to your advantage when creating content.

Governing your content not only provides freedom, it enables security. Just like any governing body, the efficiency of your content management system will depend on your ability to provide checks and balances.

This will decrease mistakes and improve your overall productivity. There’s a direct correlation between how well you can govern your content and the success of your marketing campaigns.

Governing your content will help you stay organized, develop a clear voice and consistently reach the people that matter the most.

Below I am going to discuss the benefits of governing your content, the different tools at your disposal and how you can set up your content system for success.


Why Should You Govern Your Content?

Governing your content provides a consistent experience across all your online platforms. There are a number of advantages when it comes to governing your content. This includes the ability to reverse engineer your content that connects well with your target audience.

To paint a picture, on the other end of that situation is not knowing how a piece of content became successful and wasting an experiment. Governing your content will help you avoid confusion when it comes to creating an online journey map and duplicating content that’s already been produced.

Governing your content plays a major part in creating your online journey map and messaging architecture. Branding is all about bringing people on a journey. For example, think about your favorite TV show or movie. The story line is based around a journey from Point A to Point Z. Governing your content can provide clear guidance and assist you on developing your brand along that journey.

What Governing Tools Can You Use?

Workflows: Knowing who will touch your content at every step of the process is a major factor in governing your content. This will allow you to pinpoint mistakes exactly at the point of infraction. This also means, you ‘must‘ map out your content production process. If you’re a writer or make single pieces of content, this is considered a simpler task. If you run a publication or network with a number of different content sources and properties this can be an ongoing task. If this is your situation, your best bet will be to find some assistance. There’s a considerate payoff when it comes to defining workflows within your organization. This includes eliminating confusion, increasing production & promoting overall teamwork.

Editorial Guidelines: These are key to developing your messaging architectures. The first step is to figure out the words you want to use when engaging your target audience. Your editorial guidelines should give all involved parties a clear sense of direction when it comes what’s appropriate ‘linguistically‘ for your organization.

Design Guidelines: These are essential when it comes to branding and developing your online properties. This include written documentation on how to use logos, typefaces, color schemes, etc. You can combine your editorial and design guidelines into one document to promote total unity.

Checklists: This is the most important tool that you can use when it comes to governing your content. Checklists provide a guaranteed consistency.

“The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.”

– Marcus Aurelius

Checklists are a great way to identify focus points that may be naturally to overlooked or assumed to be in place. Checklist include the following:

  • Can your target audience find the content?
  • Is your content accessible to the target audience?
  • Can your target audience comprehend the messaging architectures?
  • Is your content promoting action?
  • Can your target audience share the content?

How To Set Up A Content Governing System?

Content governing systems are important because it allows your brand identity to be consistent across platforms. This starts with putting the right people in position, using the right tools and executing.

Once you have figured out your business objectives, developed a content management system, created the necessary identity pillars and mastered your voice. The next move is to get everyone in your organization to stand in one straight line and execute your content strategy.

The key is to sell the benefit of why you’re governing content. One win, we all win. It’s fairly simple. Another effective route of note is to key in on the people who have influence. This will make your job much easier in the selling ‘BIG GOVERNMENT’ department. Determine what’s important to your designer. What channels matter to your social media manager? Etc. This will allow you a better opportunity to unify your organization on all fronts.

This is the beauty of governing, even in today’s public and private sector.

Here are a couple of tactics you can use to bring your team closer together.

  • FIND A PROBLEM SOLVER. These are usually the people that will advocate for governing your content because of the joy that associated with operating a well-oiled machine & increasing efficiency. These individuals tend to have the network and know-how to get things done. No matter the circumstances.
  • REVIEW YOUR MISTAKES. This is one of the key aspects I have learned as a collegiate athlete and more so as an entrepreneur. Fail forward fast. There is valuable information to be learned from your mistakes. The same way an athlete should study film is the same way your organization should study its past marketing & advertising campaigns. This will allow for better governance and provide an understanding that everything will come under scrutiny. This strategy will also provide an example of how you should govern your content within the organization (Newcomers vs. seasoned vets). There’s a reason why Tom Brady is a 7-time champion, he has the art of being a professional football player down pact. The same approach should be taken with governing your content.
  • BREAK IT DOWN INTO SMALL BITES. An easy way to govern your content within your organization is to take it slowly, be persistent and be aware of milestones until you reach your goal. Within your content governing system you can place an emphasis on accountability. Stressing the importance that every piece of content being created is uniquely valuable without a doubt (present it in the same sense as you would your children!) Make content governing a part of your regular schedule, this will help keep everything else on a steady path of improvement.
  • DEVELOP A SUPPORT SYSTEM. Find individuals within your network who fully support governing content. This should be a situation where people feel comfortable pushing a certain quality and therefore the standard continuously improves.
  • CREATE A LIFESTYLE. One of the major benefits for me (on a personal level) when it comes to creating content is being from Atlanta. Everyone who wants to be in the music industry or grew up in the music industry has a very clear idea on what needs to be done as far as the process and how you should govern content. There’s a whole world that needs to be created around your content. Once you can set up a process where everyone benefits, the faster you’ll see mass adaptation.
  • BUILD LOCAL, THINK GLOBAL. The key to governing your content is to start small and build local. Test out different strategies and pay attention to how your content dream team reacts to the new system. The easiest way to get people to understand how to govern content is to compare it to an actual government. You have your local, state and federal governments that all operate within their respective parameters.

Who Should Be In Charge Of Governing Your Content?

Generally, you want to set up two governing bodies: one team that is focused on strategy and another team that is focused on implementation.

Strategic Administration = This administration should be making decisions from the top such as deciding on business objectives, advertising budgets, defining key target audiences, etc.

Implementation Administration = This administration keys in on day-to-day activities. Such as developing content, editing/adjusting advertising campaigns and overall content up keep.

There will be cross overs between the two factions. It is important to keep the two teams within clear reach of each other to share information, produce innovative ideas & create better workflows for your governing body.

Seth Earley recommends three types of governing entities:

  1. Steering Committees: they oversee the overall direction of the governing body (business decisions such as budgets and allocation).
  2. Execution Teams & Execution Groups: These group handle day-in and day-out operations. They make sure everything is where it needs to be and reports back to the steering committee.
  3. Content Task Force: Teams that work on a certain project for a limited time (i.e. contractors and freelancers)

Governing your content is all about building unity withing your organization and developing an understanding about the standards that should be met and respected. Always keep reiterating when it comes to governing your content. Improving your standards is just as important as having them in place.

Having the right tools in place will allow to better govern your content. It all begins with the intangibles which are:

  • Consistency
  • Measurement
  • Education

Consistency will set the tone for everything within the system such messaging, design, style and tone. This is day-in and day-out, fully having a commitment to a high standards. Measurement is everything when it comes to governing your content, you need to find a way that says your efforts are paying off.

Most importantly is education. How do you preach a new lifestyle to individuals who are already successful or view workflow in a certain capacity? Better yet, why are you asking them to change? It’s important to adopt a content management system early on that you can learn and develop inside of your organization. This includes seminars, marketing events and yearly training.

Governing content offers simplicity. Simplicity provides focus. Focus increases productivity.

This in return, will provide your organization with a clear understanding of where you stand in the content creation process and help everyone develop a deeper knowledge of how to create content from a unified approach.


If you’re interested in learning more about ‘Branding, Marketing & Social Media Insights’, feel free to sign up for my monthly Newsletter.

2 thoughts on “How To ‘Govern’ Your Content

  1. Pingback: Content Marketing & The Law of Trust – 227 | Social+Digital

  2. Pingback: How To Develop A Repeatable Life Cycle For Content Marketing – 227 | Social+Digital

Tell me what YOU think!!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s