Most businesses agree they need to A) produce more content and B) connect on a deeper, personalized level with today’s hyper-connected buyers. But, following through on these two challenges and actually producing results (ie: leads and sales) is elusive without specific markers. Fortunately, encouraging employee participation in content marketing can help with both of these challenges.
But not all businesses and their cultures are created equal. There are many pitfalls to avoid when considering employee participation in content marketing and your business needs to be ready for prime time (ie: the social media spotlight). Which is one of the reasons some businesses haven’t yet leveraged this valuable strategy.
Employees are perceived as “people like me” by your customers. Employees are trusted more than any other representative or manager in your company. Happy employees who share their expertise by way of content on your website and social media send a very clear message to prospects: “This company is trustworthy and I can feel safe and/or comfortable doing business with them.”
When you showcase employees as thought leaders in your industry, the company receives more recognition online. Employees reap the benefit of their voices being broadcasted, paving the way for more referrals, leads and sales.
The company looks smarter because its employees look smarter.
Avoiding the hazards that can happen when you open your company up to employee participation in content marketing is crucial. One false move, one case of poor judgment, or one public altercation with a customer can spell doom.
It’s important to know the Do’s and Don’t’s of employee participation in content marketing so you can avoid the risks and retain the value.
Do’s of Employee Participation in Content Marketing
Always start with amazing, real-life customer experiences.
If you aren’t differentiating your business from your competitors then you’ll never be heard above the noise. The best way to create a remarkable presence is to capture images and video that illustrate why you are better.
Every customer-facing employee has stories of how they delivered a great experience. Encourage them to document their experiences.
You must establish WIIFM.
It’s human nature to be motivated initially by “what’s in it for me.” Any way you slice it, even if they tell you otherwise, there has to be something valuable in an employee’s actions for them to adapt to it long term.
Ask them to Google themselves. If they come up like a ghost, it’s time for them to get out of the shadows.
If things come up that are negative, even more reason to participate so they can redeem themselves.
Employees who are mentioned in online reviews, blog posts and social media are provided an opportunity to build a strong online presence, be perceived as a thought leader or expert, and thereby garner more referrals.
Encourage growth of employees’ personal brand.
Many companies think that if an employee has worked to build their personal brand and promotes it, they will eventually leave and take customers with them.
Now, if that’s all it’s going to take to get customers to leave then you’ve got much bigger problems.
The more effective and lucrative way of handling employees’ personal brands is to incorporate them within your company’s marketing and message. A strong employee personal brand represents trust to those they connect with. As an advocate for your company, they have much greater influence over customers and prospects.
Weave content participation into their job description and pay plan.
I believe in content creation and participation should be mandatory. Before you argue with me, consider this. You require employees to show up on time, right? You require them to perform their job duties, right? Why wouldn’t you gently fold in participation in content marketing as part of their duties…and compensate them for it? Done right, it’s worth every penny.
Recognize and reward 4-5 star reviews.
I have a client who wished to increase their Google reviews. They started with 23 reviews for a total of 4.8 stars. They began a program where each salesperson would get $25 for every 4 or 5 star review that mentioned the salesperson’s name (and was verified).
The result? In 90 days, they amassed 133 Google reviews and were able to retain their 4.8 star rating. A few months later, they have over 200 reviews.
Make content submission easy.
With any employee initiative that involves change and growth, you need a super-simple process to avoid most of the issues that arise. These tools will help bridge the gap between content creation and submission:
- Dropbox is always a good option for small business.
- Shared Google Docs are also a good option, depending on the technological aptitude of your team.
- For enterprise: DynamicSignal, SocialChorus and PostBeyond.
Track, analyze, show evidence and reinforce value.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Employee’s need to see the fruits of their labor (and so do you!).
- Check in with results during sales meetings
- Review metrics. Ask for suggestions on how to improve.
- Recognize how many leads came in
- What was the result of the sales follow-through?
Don’t’s of Employee Participation in Content Marketing
Don’t expect everyone to jump onboard: 80/20 rule.
20% of your staff will participate in and create 80% of the content you’re looking for.
The middle 60% will sort of participate and it’s your job to keep them motivated.
The bottom 20% will most likely never participate and that’s just how it is.
Don’t even start without a social media policy.
With any employee initiative, specific guidelines must be in place so they know what is expected and what to do if something goes wrong.
A social media policy alleviates fear on both sides of the table. Employees know what they need to do (or not do) in order to do a good job and the company satisfies their need for compliance and control.
If you’re the type of owner or manager who believes employees should not be allowed on social media, a social media policy just might help you get more comfortable with the fact that today’s hyper-connected buyers prefer online communication. You don’t restrict the phone or email so why restrict social media, especially if you have a policy in place?
Don’t overestimate employees’ skills. They need training!
Putting a social media policy in place is a great start but it won’t get you to the promised land. Valuable content produced by employees does not happen on its own…ever! They need training on:
- How to look for content opportunities
- How to tell the right stories
- How to professionally document those stories
- Know where their strengths and weaknesses lie
- Understand which types of media they feel more comfortable with
Don’t get overwhelmed.
Start slow and keep your expectations in check. A few employees may grasp the value right away and deliver great results. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all going to be easy – that’s the best way to get overwhelmed or disappointed.
Set easy-to-reach goals for yourself and for your staff. Track the wins and losses, learn from everything you do.
Employee participation in content marketing is the key to growing your business and increasing leads and sales. Take these steps to build your own internal process and your competitors won’t know what hit ’em.