Content Governance vs Content Operations: What's the Difference?


If you want to publish high-quality content across multiple channels, you'll need guidance, a plan, and a foolproof strategy. The rules and structures that govern all processes are universal across industries and societies. And content is no exception.

Despite many enterprises (72%) viewing content as an essential business strategy, 63% of them still lack established processes for handling content creation and management. Here, content operations and governance can be invaluable. When implemented correctly, you can deliver high-quality content and ultimately drive business growth. 

This article sheds light on content governance, its differences with content operations, and the best practices that guide it.

What Is Content Governance?

Content governance refers to a set of best practices for creating, publishing, managing, distributing, and scaling content in a real-world setting. It outlines the content review process, how the company makes editorial decisions, what to do after a tweet or part of a post goes viral, and how to deal with stale, ineffective, or outdated content.

Having strong content governance practices is crucial for digital marketing success, especially for larger enterprises. It may also hinder or contribute to sustainable web design methods. Content governance is just a series of guidelines and quality control processes that ensure content is accurate, brand-consistent, and relevant.

So What Is Content Operations?

Put plainly, content operations or ContentOps combine the processes, technologies, and people necessary to plan, produce, distribute, analyze and create strategies for content. It aligns the tools, workflows, and people needed to deliver high-quality content. 

In addition to this, a successful content operations approach enables marketers to deliver authentic, resonant messages that drive revenue and growth through integrating customer experiences across departments and channels.

Differences Between Content Operations and Content Governance

Although content operations oversee and add context to the entire process of content marketing, content governance helps set guidelines, rules, and best practices for all content operations practices. 

ContentOps considers every aspect of your messaging, addresses all personas and stages of the buying process, and delivers assets that remain valuable after the message is delivered. 

On the other hand, content governance involves making long-term plans for your content strategy and translating them into day-to-day tasks and activities. Content governance determines and guides the long-term approach to your content strategy and translates it into your ongoing processes, tasks, and activities. 

Read more: How ContentOps Links Content Strategy and Delivery

Content Governance: Why Is It Important to a ContentOps Team?

Content governance is critical for the most successful content operations and marketing teams. It brings order to an otherwise chaotic content workflow and enhances the efficiency of your content workflows. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits:

  • Poorly written and formatted content: With proper guidelines, content governance helps to ensure high-quality content creation and delivery.
  • Damage to your brand reputation: By implementing the right strategies, you can overcome all of the challenges faced by ContentOps teams. Some of these include limiting damage to brand reputation through poorly delivered content.
  • Content duplication: Content governance helps reduce silos in ContentOps teams and eliminates content duplication by aligning all workflows and teams.
  • Ensure consistent experiences across all channels: It's fairly common not to have the right skills, processes, and technologies necessary to deliver consistent omnichannel experiences. Content governance outlines and underpins your brand's message across all channels.
  • Ensure high productivity: By following these content governance guidelines, you can reach higher levels of efficiency for your marketing team.
  • Enhance collaboration and contribution: By establishing a clear structure and identifying responsibilities, ContentOps teams can increase collaboration and contribution across all organizational departments.  

The Best Practices for Implementing a Content Governance Strategy

The following are some of the best practices essential to having an effective content governance strategy for your organization.

Establish an Effective Content Governance With Clear Roles and Responsibilities for Each Task

While each stakeholder has their role, there should be a content owner who organizes the content creators, editors, marketers, and subject matter experts to adhere to content and brand guidelines. However, you shouldn't burden your stakeholders with creating the content; you should empower each person to contribute.

As soon as you have all your processes and tasks in place, decide who is responsible for each.

Do not skip this step regardless of the size of your team. You can make content governance more effective by appointing an owner to each task. In this way, you can achieve clear responsibilities and deadlines, clarify expectations, and eliminate any uncertainty about the final product.

Read more: Content Team Makeup: What Does a Successful Content Team Look Like?

Document Policies and Processes Enabling Governance

Beyond just measuring and tracking content effectiveness, you should also guide and influence its performance and effectiveness. With content governance, you can actively help your content operations team through the entire creation and delivery process. Some of the policies or processes may include: 

  • Content creation policies can help address and alert writers when using outdated product names, missing an SEO keyword or phrase, and poorly worded messaging and tone of voice. 
  • With tools like Google Docs, Headless CMSs, Word, Confluence, and more, you can integrate add-ons and extensions for reviewing content, identifying errors and deviations from strategy when writing, and ensuring content effectiveness with NLP, AI, or ML.
  • Leverage transparent metrics that reflect the content effectiveness score according to strategy, brand-consistency before publishing.

Other content-related policies for publishing blogs include:

  • The ideal sentence structure and paragraph length
  • Word count minimum or range
  • Content styling and Image positioning
  • Header and subheading structure

Establishing guidelines and editorial standards can also help you create consistent and less confusing content. The documents and policies will empower and encourage your editors, writers, designers, and other team members to achieve their best results. Similarly, getting this step right will save you tons of time. That is because it will result in fewer questions, fewer errors, and fewer repetitive tasks. 

Audit Your Current Processes and Workflows

Once you’ve clearly defined the roles and responsibilities for content governance and outlined your organizational policies, now it’s time to evaluate your performance. Auditing current processes and workflows are crucial to ensuring consistency and better management.  

In this step, you should be sure to answer the following questions:

  • How has each piece of content contributed to our company's success?
  • Did any of the content underperform?
  • What is the average time it takes to create each piece of content—no matter the format—from start to finish?
  • How many people participate in these processes? Do any of them work beyond their capacity or below it?
  • Can you identify a pattern across projects if there is a bottleneck?
  • How often do you miss deadlines for delivering content?

Automate Processes and Secure Tools

The advantages of automating workflows over manual processes are twofold: it improves productivity and reduces errors. This is especially crucial for governing content. Be sure to automate as many processes and tasks as possible. 

Automation will make your team's workflow smoother, ensure better collaboration among departments and reduce the number of errors that result from manual processes.

Define Key Criteria and Metrics for Success

In every content strategy, tracking KPIs is essential. First, you have to outline key metrics for content governance. Then, you want to visualize, monitor, and track these metrics across an analytics dashboard accessible to core stakeholders. That way, you can measure the overall performance against the metrics and goals you select.  

In addition to these, you can link your content governance tools to other organizational applications and repositories to perform scheduled or batch analyses.

Enabling Better Content Governance and Operations

Given the increasing demand for content and its rapid production, introducing governance can be a challenge both from an organizational and technological perspective. However, the benefits greatly outweigh the downsides. An organization can be more responsive to changes and market developments with a solid governance plan and content strategy.

Content governance and content operations are essential facets crucial to the success of an agile content operations team. It helps teams deliver on-brand, on-voice messaging through all customer journeys. 

Topics: ContentOps