OTT platforms are growing as companies embrace enterprise streaming and creators take control of their content. To exercise that control, though, you need to get familiar with your CMS.
Don’t be intimidated. The entire point of a CMS is to be approachable, freeing you to focus on content instead of technology. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
WHAT IS A CMS?
CMS stands for “content management system”. It’s an interface that allows you to manage a website or OTT platform without writing a single line of code. A CMS is absolutely essential for non-technical users who still want to have direct control over how things work.
Building a CMS does involve coding, so you do need someone knowledgeable to set it up. Once that’s done, however, you can update, rearrange, and add to your platform using user-friendly tools.
LIFE WITHOUT A CMS
Without a CMS, you need coding skills to do anything at all with your OTT platform. Here’s a simplified overview of what that looks like:
- Create whatever content is to be added, or decide what you’re going to change.
- Download the HTML files for the page you are going to work with.
- Use HTML and CSS to add the new text as well as graphics, navigation arrows, and other visual elements, then design them to follow company branding guidelines.
- Double check that no links or elements were broken by the new code. Not all code plays well together, and it’s common for an element that hasn’t been maintained to interfere with new elements.
- Upload the file back to the server.
- Content appears on the website.
- Repeat for every page to be edited.
With so many complex steps, there’s a lot of room for error. Someone who doesn’t fully understand what they’re doing can break an entire website trying to update a blog or add a photo to a gallery.
You could send your team to coding lessons to learn how to handle the system- but is that really in your best financial interests? If you aren’t specifically in the business of building OTT platforms, that’s a more granular approach than you really need.
Worse, it takes time that your employees could more efficiently use on their core business tasks. Their other skills go underutilized because they’re having to spend half the morning posting a video.
Even for companies with IT departments, a CMS makes sense. IT has more pressing things to do than updating your website or uploading new content to training pages. With those user-level tasks taken off their plates, they can focus on higher level technical issues.
TAKING CONTROL BACK INTO YOUR HANDS
How different is using a CMS? Let’s take a look at the same updating process with a CMS:
- Create the content to be added.
- Open the CMS interface. If you’re already logged into your website, this can be as easy as clicking a link or tab.
- Use intuitive tools and text boxes to add content, then apply styling using tools similar to other programs you use regularly. For example, inputting text is very similar to how common word processors work. You can even embed video and links through this same interface.
- Consult a user-friendly checklist to manage SEO optimization, social media sharing, or other functions that have been made available at your level.
- Publish the content, or push it to an editorial team for approval.
- Content appears on the website.
There are fewer steps, and every one of them is more approachable than it would be without a CMS. The whole process is fast, simple, and safe. Best of all, new users can be trained on the CMS in a single day.
WHAT CAN A CMS DO FOR YOU?
The most obvious thing a CMS is used for is content curation. It gives you direct control over your content, letting you make changes personally without having to send a work order to IT.
A CMS is especially helpful for projects that require collaboration. More than one person can be using the CMS at the same time for the same purpose (for example, writing a blog post). If higher approval is needed, users can push their finished to an editing team at the click of a button.
Because the CMS is fast and easy to use, you can push updates more often. This keeps your audience engaged and helps build brand loyalty.
Plus, you’re not spending time you could use more productively elsewhere poring over lines of code. That by itself would be enough to recommend a CMS- but it’s far from the only benefit.
Maintain brand consistency
A CMS enforces your branding and styling across your entire platform. Though this is a subtle advantage, it’s a powerful one.
There are templates for new pages, preset colors and page design elements, and a full set of pre-approved functionalities to create a cohesive visual experience.
When every user’s content is automatically given the same visual elements and styling, your platform gives viewers a more professional impression than if each person tried to interpret a style sheet when designing a page.
Control user roles
When more than one person will be editing the platform, you can assign different levels of access based on what each position involves. Specifically:
- Who can change the base code and formatting? (This should be reserved for a very few people, all who have the technical skills necessary.)
- Who can add widgets or extensions?
- Who can publish new content without approval?
- Who can add new content, but still needs it approved?
The CMS automatically directs any alerts where they’re needed. Support requests go to support role holders, marketing interactions are visible to marketing and executives, editors get notifications to approve content, and so one.
A person can hold more than one role, as well. They will have the highest level of access to a specific function offered by any of their roles, so be thoughtful when assigning roles.
Having platform access controlled by a CMS gives you peace of mind when delegating responsibilities, since you know each user can only act within their specific roles.
For creators, this means they can let an assistant post content while they work on new projects. For enterprise users, content can be created by staffers and approved by the management team as they have time.
Raise SEO rankings
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most critical aspects of any online presence. Better SEO leads to higher brand awareness and more sales leads.
With a CMS, SEO is straightforward and intuitive. Most include automatic indexing options, and there’s a host of tools that can be added during development to walk users through SEO procedures.
Even entry-level CMS users are able to check on their SEO quality using a dashboard that helps them:
- Specify keywords and phrases
- Customize page titles and meta descriptions
- Add alt text to images and video
The dashboard provides a dynamic evaluation of SEO quality as content is input and will prompt users when change is needed. If the keyword density is too low, or the keywords aren’t used in the right places to rank high, both entry users and editors can see that at a glance.
Ease of posting has been brought up a few times so far, but it’s worth mentioning here because frequent updates boost SEO rankings. Platforms that update often are seen as more relevant by search engines and will appear higher in searches.
Owning your data is one of the strongest advantages of owning a platform as opposed to using existing platforms like YouTube or Medium. The CMS can be designed to give you easy insight into that data through dynamic dashboards and statistics panels.
Use your CMS dashboards to answer questions like:
- What content is performing well? What isn’t?
- Where are visitors coming from?
- How long do they stay?
- How often do they come back?
You can choose during development to integrate more analytics tools into your CMS to track things like user behavior across platforms and how they navigate your site. That offers valuable insight to guide your future decisions.
Improve user experience
A CMS isn’t only for your convenience. It gives your users a better experience, too. They benefit from easy to find and use search functions and responsive support channels.
Your CMS performs the all-important task of device optimization for a consistent experience on desktop or mobile. (Being mobile friendly also boosts your SEO rankings; many of these advantages play into each other.)
You know what a CMS is and why it matters… now what?
Now that you know how valuable a tool your CMS is, you can use that to your advantage. Really engage with your developer when setting up your website or OTT platform. Share any pain points in your current process, and ask questions about what’s possible to explore how much you can get out of your new CMS.
Make CMS training a priority for your team, too, so they can get in on the action.
A CMS can be one of your most effective digital tools. The more you understand it, the more effectively you can use it to meet your business goals.
At FanHero, we specialize in customizing a CMS for each of our partner’s needs. If you’re having trouble managing your “one size fits all” platform, we can design one that has your goals built in from the start.