How To Be A Good Content Manager

Jonatan Parski CEO

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content manager

So, you want to be a content manager? Kudos! The world is increasingly digital. Every corner of civilization is making or has already made a major shift towards online operations. And online, content is king. Websites, blogs, social media titans, brands. They all live and die by content.

In that sense, aspiring to be a content manager is no surprise. With demand growing every day, it’s one of the most crucial roles in any modern organization. What is surprising, though, is the scarce amount of people who know what is content management, exactly. 

Content manager

What Does a Content Manager Do?

A content manager is, in essence, responsible for the freshness, quality, and consistency of a website’s content. If that sounds like a broad mandate, it’s because it is. Few things in this world are as flexible as a content manager’s job description.

Every organization has a unique structure, business model, brand and audience. A CM must be able to deftly handle each of these aspects. Overseeing all content that is published by the organization, CMs are an integral part of a website’s voice.

Content managers work side by side with copywriters, editing and curating their output to match brand strategy requirements. CMs may sometimes write the content themselves, though their main task is coordinating with and managing copywriters and graphic designers.

In larger organizations, they also work alongside content marketing managers, who focus on content marketing strategy. In smaller organizations, CMs are tasked with content production/curation and content marketing strategizing.

Developing the Content Strategy

For smaller websites, content management and content strategizing are one and the same process. A content strategy is basically a detailed roadmap for the content of a website.

The content strategy corresponds to the unique needs of the business. Some brands might want to raise awareness, while others may look to reconnect with former customers. Different goals require different strategies. Identifying yours is the first step towards a robust strategy.

If the company has a content marketing manager, they will outline the strategy. However, it’s the CM’s job to implement it. That means researching, curating, commissioning, and editing content that matches the plan.

It also includes finding creative ways to further the content strategy goals through new content. This requires a robust understanding of the audience and market niche in question. CMs need to be keenly aware of the cultural trends in the niches they cover.

Building an Editorial Calendar

Your Editorial Calendar is a crystallized version of your content strategy. Once you’ve identified your content goals, it’s time to lay it all out. An Editorial Calendar lets you keep track of what needs to be posted where and when.

Combined with a helping of analytics power, the Editorial Calendar is an essential tool to measure your progress. By studying your past postings and their performance, you can figure out what works best for your audience and brand.

The Editorial Calendar can be as simple as a spreadsheet, listing ideas, images, captions, platforms, and times. It can easily be expanded to include user reaction, such as social media views, interactions, and shares.

You can also find several dedicated apps for managing your Editorial Calendar. Both free and premium calendar management apps can be very handy for this purpose. Variables to consider include cost and ease of collaboration, among others.

Content Quality Assurance

When we said that organizations live and die by their content online, we meant it. Content is the most critical currency on the internet today. Even the most diehard fans of any influencer will soon disengage in the absence of new content.

It isn’t just a lack of content that drives users away, though. Low-quality content has the same effect. A large part of a content manager’s job is to ensure a consistent level of quality in all published content. That’s what content quality assurance is all about.

The CQA process should be ongoing, monitoring every step of the content publishing procedure. That spans from content creation methods to quality standards, expectations, and activities that oversee content creation.

Furthermore, content quality assurance processes are typically scheduled into the Editorial Calendar. This guarantees that quality checks take place at regular intervals, adding regularity to the process.

Content Creation Team Management

While some content managers are in charge of writing new content, the vast majority work with professional copywriters. A copywriter is a professional craftsperson, an expert in communicating precisely. Medium-sized websites will usually have a small team of dedicated writers.

A CM is tasked with many things, and managing the content creation team is one of them. Managing a team of creative workers and ensuring they follow content strategy guidelines is easier said than done.

Copywriters, like all creative workers, can be fickle at times. The CM needs to supervise that the work is being done adequately and in a timely fashion. Coordinating content requirements, deadlines, and quality is the CM’s bread and butter.

Another large aspect of the content manager job description is copy editing. All that copy needs to be polished and revamped to meet sometimes strict site publishing standards. Editing, fact-checking, proofreading, and vetting all come with the territory.

Identifying New Content Opportunities

Finally, one of the most crucial aspects of the CM job is identifying new content opportunities. This is a very broad area, and can be different for different industries. However, regardless of the industry, you need to keep content fresh and interesting to be a content manager.

This often means recognizing cultural trends, pop culture references or news stories that can be useful for the content strategy. A savvy content manager can smell blood in the water before anyone else, and seize that momentum for their brand.

It can be as simple as firing off a sour meme in the middle of a public controversy, or as complex as an omnichannel user-generated video content campaign.

Whatever the case may be, timing is vital. The difference between a slam dunk and a dud can be a matter of seconds. The best CMs keep a close eye on their audience, interacting with and learning from the communities their brand targets.

content manager

Skills Every Good Content Manager Should Have

So far, we’ve pored over what the content manager job description entails. It’s an interdisciplinary position, mixing and matching skill sets from many different spheres. That’s why finding a good CM can be so challenging: few people actually have all the skills required.

It’s no wonder. Website content management is a really wide (and relatively new) area of expertise. Many companies are still figuring out the differences between a content manager and a community/social media manager.

Outside large corporations, vast numbers of CMs fill the editor, curator, proofreader, researcher, fact-checker, and part-time writer roles. In many cases, the post of content marketing manager doesn’t exist either—and CMs invariably wind up absorbing its essential duties.

At the same time, CMs need to be effective team leaders, have technical skills, splendid time management, and much more. The following are some essential skills that every content manager will need at some point.

Writing Proficiency

You don’t need to be Ernest Hemingway to be a CM. While copywriting is a creative task, it’s not exactly an art. It’s not about inspiration. You don’t need a muse, and you can’t afford writer’s block. It’s a more mechanical take on the creative process.

You definitely need to have a knack for the written word, though. They have to flow easily from your mind to the screen. Quick wits help tremendously. You must also command a broad vocabulary to find the right word for your audience.

In addition, your writing needs to be compelling and relatable. You need to be able to switch tone and delivery at the drop of a hat. At the same time, you need to learn to recognize content that doesn’t sound on-brand, at a glance.

In most cases, you’ll have copywriters handling most of the heavy lifting. However, you have to be able to put out fires when needed.

Technical Know-How

Website content management is a technical job. It has many creative requirements, sure, but you’re dealing with the nuts and bolts of a live website. While copywriters can largely avoid the technical side of things, CMs have no such luck.

They need to stay updated on the latest developments across the most popular social media and publishing platforms online today. A content manager’s effectiveness depends largely on their ability to navigate the ever-changing maze of digital content publishing.

Of course, CMs aren’t Computing Science Engineers. They don’t usually need to know programming languages (though a bit of HTML never hurt anyone). They should be able to do basic troubleshooting for the content creation team, for instance.

In addition, CMs should have a firm grasp of the lingo. There are dozens of terms and acronyms in the world of online marketing.

Analytical Skills

Perhaps the most critical skill for a competent content manager is the ability to absorb information, evaluate, and decide. Analytical skills describe the capacity to break down complex information into more digestible categories, which are used to reach conclusions.

Analytical skills involve several different modes of thinking, like logical reasoning, communication, data analysis, creativity, critical thinking, and research. While analytical skills are essential in most areas of life, they’re absolutely crucial to a CM.

Websites content management is a job that is overflowing with data. Analytics and metrics are staples of the average content manager’s workday. Making sense of all that information implies putting those analytical skills to work.

The ultimate role of the CM is decision-maker. CMs make the calls, determining what’s posted and what isn’t. It’s an impossible job without solid analytical skills to process all that data and understand what’s working for the brand.

Time Management & Planning

A good community manager has a nose for trending content. An excellent community manager has an internal clock for peak posting times. Timing is everything when it comes to sharing content. Identical posts won’t fare the same posted at noon or midnight. The same goes for days of the week.

Once you know your audience, you’ll have an understanding of their habits and patterns. Studying your analytics, you can track down the most promising conditions for posting content. In turn, this will help you plan out your Editorial Calendar and plan for time-sensitive material.

An effective content manager therefore must excel at planning and time management. Every piece of content must be ready, proofed, and edited in time to meet the schedule.

Keep in mind you’re not just responsible for managing your time. There’s a whole team of creative copywriters. Their deadlines are your deadlines, too.

Team Leadership Skills

That brings us to the last (but not least) skill a content manager needs: team leadership. A content manager is the captain of a ship, manned by copywriters, graphic designers and community managers. Guiding that ship to its destination requires natural leadership.

A team leader embodies qualities that inspire the rest of the team to work at their highest level. These qualities include clear communication, excellent organization, trust, respect, kindness, integrity, and delegation.

If leadership isn’t one of your natural skills, don’t worry. It can be developed through experience. However, it’s best you polish those skills before taking on a CM role.

Conclusion

Content management is an interdisciplinary job with rapid growth in demand. While often misunderstood, the role of CM is crucial for effective online marketing. Every brand needs a good content manager behind the scenes, but few know what to look for.

An excellent CM must be the ultimate authority on content for a website. Responsible for setting and maintaining the brand’s tone and style, the CM has final say regarding all content. It takes research, writing skills, leadership, problem-solving, and a very creative mindset.

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