The Content Boss: Who Heads Content Marketing And What Falls Into Their Purview?

Content marketing has been embraced by businesses large and small. There’s far less of a need to buy media when you can create it yourself. Businesses are aware that if you have a website, a blog, a YouTube channel, a Twitter presence, a Facebook page or a host of other online offerings, then you’re as […]

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Content marketing has been embraced by businesses large and small. There’s far less of a need to buy media when you can create it yourself. Businesses are aware that if you have a website, a blog, a YouTube channel, a Twitter presence, a Facebook page or a host of other online offerings, then you’re as much (if not more) a publisher as you are an advertiser.

But strategizing, creating, assessing, disseminating, evaluating, and monetizing content doesn’t just happen by itself. Someone’s got to actually do it.

How do organizations determine who that someone is? There are certainly plenty of possible roles that can oversee, or play a role in, content marketing. Here are just a few of the most obvious examples:

  • Chief Content Officer/ VP of Content
  • Chief Marketing Officer
  • Content/Editorial Director
  • Community Director
  • Blogger
  • Social Media Director/Manager
  • Copywriter
  • Copy Editor
  • Videographer (production, editing)
  • Graphic designer
  • Photographer
  • Outside Consultant(s)
  • PR Professional
  • Everyone (or very nearly everyone)

“Everyone” Should Be Involved

Companies that really buy into content marketing are increasingly taking the “everyone” approach. They’re hiring people to be responsible for creating digital content because its worth has been solidly demonstrated, but they’re not the only ones participating.

The fact that “everyone” is involved speaks to a critical aspect of content marketing. Companies must create a culture of content in order to find stories, identify customer concerns, product issues, barriers to sales, extract testimonials and hundreds of other content types.

Content ideas don’t live in the marketing department. They’re more likely to be found on the showroom floor, in the call center, or in sales. Product designers are a source of content. So are suppliers. Companies that take content marketing seriously must invest shoe leather in their initiatives. Like good journalists, they go out and find stories and ideas.

Clearly, when the job is creating lots of content, it helps to have lots of contributors. Yet putting someone at the helm of those initiatives is critical  — as critical as putting an editor-in-chief in charge of everything published by a newspaper or magazine. Consistency, style, voice, adherence to mission, editorial judgment and ethics are just part of the role. (For a great job description, see this chief content officer job description.)

The role has come to be referred to as the chief content officer, though many people are put off by the term (how many C-level executives can a company realistically have?). Quibbling over the title isn’t the purpose here. Depending on the size and org chart, this person may be the head of content, SVP content, or whatever.

Content Boss Role Is Expanding

In addition to overseeing content strategy, production, distribution, training, related technology, measurement and optimization of content, the role of the content boss is expanding and evolving to become deeply integrated in the organization’s paid (advertising) and earned (social media and PR) media.

Together with my co-author Jeremiah Owyang, I recently conducted research on how organizations are converging paid, owned (content) and earned media (the research is available here). In interviews with dozens of marketers, agencies and technology providers, we learned that content now effectively leads marketing initiatives. Advertising, or paid media, was traditionally in the driver’s seat largely by virtue of the fact that it got the most budget, and therefore the biggest share of voice.

POE Media Screenshot

That balance has shifted. Content is the germ from which other marketing initiatives grow and flourish. Because content, by definition, does not involve a media buy, earned media (social and PR) serve as the amplifiers that spread the message, create traffic, momentum, awareness, sharing or other desired goals. The content boss, therefore, is charged with closely collaborating with the social media team to create a cross-channel publishing strategy to engage the target audience and encourage or induce them to spread the message.

Continual Iteration

What resonates? What doesn’t? That’s what refines and helps to optimize content initiatives going forward (and the ones after that – lather, rinse, repeat). All these incremental refinements and learnings are what increasingly provide the core creative idea for paid media. In other words, content that’s optimized and filtered through social media, is raw advertising material.

Lieb Figure3

This makes the content boss’ job more complex and multidimensional. Whoever directs content requires a clear understanding of both advertising and social media, together with all the players, technologies, processes, production, analytics and hierarchies involved in all three forms of media.

And that’s not all. In additional to knowing practically everything about everything marketing related, the content head must also be a consummate diplomat. Not only must this person get staff from across the marketing organization to sit at the same table, communicate and collaborate, s/he must also take on this challenge with agency partners, who often regard one another as competitors, not collaborators.

Will the head of content soon oversee all of marketing? It’s a distinct possibility as the discipline evolves.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Rebecca Lieb
Rebecca Lieb has published more research on content marketing than anyone else in the field. As a strategic adviser, her clients range from start-up to non-profits to Fortune 100 brands and regulated industries. She's worked with brands including Facebook, Pinterest, The Home Depot, Nestlé, Anthem, Adobe, Honeywell, DuPont, Fidelity, Save the Children, and The Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Rebecca was until recently an analyst at Altimeter group, and earlier launched Econsultancy's U.S. operations. She was also VP and editor-in-chief of The ClickZ Network for over seven years, also running She's also held executive marketing positions with major global media companies. Rebecca has written three digital marketing books, the most recent is Content: The Atomic Particle of Marketing.

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