This question is more important than ever as we seek more and more content automation. Content engineers bridge the divide between content strategists and producers on one hand and, on the other hand, the developers and content managers who publish and distribute content. But rather than simply wedging themselves between these players, content engineers help define and facilitate the content structure during the entire content strategy, production and distribution cycle from beginning to end.
So whether you want to be a content engineer or anticipate working with one, understanding what a content engineer does will help you be more successful. Let’s walk through an overview.
With equal parts business and technology savvy, the content engineer does not see content as a static and finished piece. Rather, the engineer looks at the shape, structure, and organization of the content and how it can best be adapted and personalized to serve customers and emerging content platforms, technologies, and opportunities.
The content engineer connects content with applications. Content residing as big unstructured text blocks, residing in content management systems (CMS) gets easily stuck to one webpage or presentation. The engineer designs the structure that content uses to connect from the CMS to multiple endpoints and enables content personalization, targeting, reuse, and multichannel distribution.
These structures can include Google AMP pages, syndicated details relayed to search engines with Schema.org rich snippets or microdata, social sites with Open Graph, chatbots, marketing automation systems, personalization applications, and the many other applications in the emerging intelligent world of knowledge transfer.
The role of the content engineer can be understood in relation to that of a content strategist. Think of the content strategist as the CEO of content. Then consider the content engineer the CTO of content. Together they work to specify how audiences should receive content, how devices should display content, and how content can be reused.
Each role contributes a different perspective, and through workflow and governance they help define the “people” and relationships to support content through the entire content lifecycle. Content strategy is about what content gets to which customers, at which touch points. Content engineering is about how content gets to customers.
Here’s what the result of successful content strategy and content engineering collaboration looks like:
The content strategist plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.
Content Strategy targets the who, what, when, where, and why of content experiences and assets. The content engineer organizes the shape, structure, and application of content assets.
Content Engineering targets the how of content assets, platforms, and publication. Here are just some of the functions performed by content engineers:
Content engineers help content strategists clearly define the data fields for customer personas and which types of content need to be distributed through which channels. They can then take this plan and make sure the correct practices, platforms, and technologies are in place to take content strategy from dream to reality.
In short, content engineers hold the keys that unlock both the gates that separate very talented and often isolated members of a content marketing team, as well as the full potential of what the team can accomplish.
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