New Altimeter Group Research: A Culture of Content

If you want to learn about a culture, listen to the stories. If you want to change the culture, change the stories.” — Michael Margolis

Culture and content are, and always have been, inextricably linked. Just as our understanding of cultures past and present are contingent on the tangible outputs and expressions of those cultures, so too are companies defined by the stories they tell.

As the demand for content (i.e. across business functions; paid, owned, earned media; proliferating channels and platforms) grows, so too does the organization’s imperative to support it; with formalized strategy, adequate resources, and perhaps most importantly, with a culture of content. This imperative forces assessment of the ‘stories’ both within, and coming out of the organization itself.

In our latest research report, “A Culture of Content,” my colleague and co-author Rebecca Lieb and I present a framework for how organizations of any size can establish, evangelize, and foster a culture of content.

Defining a Culture of Content

A culture in any context is a “common reference points of whole peoples” [Wikipedia], connecting common aspirations, beliefs, ideals, and ways of doing things. In our report, we define a Culture of Content:

A culture of content exists when the importance of content is evangelized enterprise-wide, content is shared and made accessible, creation and creativity are encouraged, and content flows up and downstream, as well as across various divisions. A formalized yet not immutable content strategy is the framework upon which to base culture.

A Culture of Content is an Engine of Content

Creating a culture of content means infusing across the organization a mindset and evangelism of the value of content, beyond just content production. When content becomes an ingrained element of an enterprise’s culture, the culture functions like a well-oiled engine, producing, circulating, and begetting content, creating numerous efficiencies in the process.


Content is bigger than any one department. A content engine empowers teams and infuses content across marketing and other critical functions like social selling, employee advocacy, customer service, audience engagement and hiring. All cultures are built on certain tangible and intangible elements. In a culture of content, there are four primary elements, or ‘cogs’ that run the engine:

  1. Inspiration: The mindset, the momentum that drives buy-in and behavior: vision, creativity, and an acknowledgement of risk and the willingness to fail.
  2. People: The people responsible for and benefiting of, both top-down and bottom-up, content strategy execution: senior leadership, content leader, business units, external partnerships, and individual employees.
  3. Process: The components and workflows that streamline and scale a culture of content: evangelism, governance, education & training, and technology.
  4. Content: The atomic particle; the output and the input for a culture of content: paid, owned, and earned media.

In this report, we assess each element and its respective components in great depth. Based on our interviews of major B2B and B2C brands, Altimeter paints a detailed picture of how these elements come together in various types of organizations, as well as the best practices gleaned from those companies touting a strong culture of content. Readers of this report will walk away with a clear understanding of the elements that comprise a culture of content as well as pragmatic next steps for facilitating a culture to ensure enterprise-wide adoption and sustainability.

A Culture of Content Unifies Brand Identity

Ultimately, a culture of content doesn’t just help brands organize around content, it helps crystallize the very brand message; a culmination of stories that convey brand identity. Aligning internal processes, behaviors, and needs to a single brand manifestation will only grow in importance as brands embrace new ways of connecting with customers. In fact, as products become more connected, as online and offline experiences, and media itself continue to converge, content will increasingly serve as the united face of the brand– across every single interaction customers have with the brand.

As with all Altimeter Group research, “A Culture of Content” is available at no cost under Creative Commons. Please feel free to read and share it, and please let us know your reactions, as well as how these lessons apply to your own organization.

Note: This post was originally posted on the Altimeter Group blog.

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