How to Automate Your Blog Workflow
By Karen Geier
If your organization has just started blogging, or has been blogging for a while, you might be looking into a way of automating this workflow. The best tool for this kind of job is a content management system.
What is a content management system?
Content management systems take your blog posts and put them on the web in a categorized way, with automatic archiving, the ability to move around documents, make posts “sticky,” and build content galleries easily. It’s the “brain” behind the organization of your information.
Content management systems use a posting interface similar to the “ribbon” in Word, which allows you to blog without learning a new set of tools.
Why you need a content management system
If you have a cross-functional team in charge of content, a content flow that involves submitting posts for approval, or a team that produces a lot of content but most of its members aren’t programmers, you should use a content management system.
You can manage your content submissions and edits from one centralized location (including a trail of versions to keep everyone on the same page).
You can schedule posts to go live for times when your team might not be in the office, set up content suggestions to keep viewers reading your material, and even make your content sharable with one click using a content management system.
What content management systems can’t do
If you are looking for infinite customization at the post level or regularly use micro sites for campaigns, a content management system might not be for you. If you regularly make use of large graphics or interactive or flash-based content, then this content might not show up properly in a content management system, depending upon its programming.
Why you need to choose the right content management system
It’s not impossible to change content management systems if you have an adverse reaction to one, but it’s important to know that switching isn’t a straightforward, easy change to make and could cost you thousands of dollars, as you will need to hire an expert to help you migrate your information, and you will lose SEO standing for a week or two once you make the switch.
Most Popular Content Management Systems
WordPress is the industry leader due to its large community of users and developers who help improve it regularly. WordPress has millions of plugins that can do everything from add slideshows to your content management system all the way up to providing a complete commerce suite right on your website. WordPress is built with content creators in mind, and as such, has the simplest back end for content writers and editors. You can set up notifications to let editors know posts are waiting for them, and to content creators to let them know their content has been posted.
WordPress has some drawbacks, however. It can break if certain snippets of code are put into a post, or if widgets aren’t formatted correctly. Some previous versions of WordPress have also had security issues.
Joomla is a robust, light CMS that is used regularly by tech firms and organizations with in-house experts to assist with the back-end setup. Joomla is built with functionality in mind, but not necessarily ease-of-use for a writer or editor. Joomla has thousands of plugins to extend its base system.
Drupal is a very robust content management system that is not for beginners. Drupal is the choice of programmers, because it operates the way developers think. If your team isn’t terribly web savvy, this might not be the place to start, but Drupal is the content management system of choice for the White House and Warner Brothers.
A word of caution about “in-house” or “custom” systems
When dealing with advertising agencies or developers, you might be told they have their own, proprietary content management system. This seems like it could be a great idea, because they can train your team how to use it, and you can always call someone for help. Beware getting involved in this type of agreement, however. Resources for WordPress, Joomla and Drupal abound, including tutorials and videos. Locking into a purpose-built content management system locks you into that provider for as long as you have the blog or website. Other developers may not know how it was built right away, and might not be able to migrate your content easily or provide support. Make sure you don’t get locked in to an adverse deal.
If you’re looking to redesign web properties or you’re launching a company blog, you should definitely investigate using a content management system for its ease-of-use and extendability that doesn’t require full-time developer resources. You might find one that’s just right for you.