When developing a content marketing strategy for your business, you probably put a lot of thought into your goals, audience, content channels, and the types of content you will produce. But many businesses overlook one of the most effective strategies: engaging their employees and turning them into employee advocates.
Employee Engagement and Content Marketing
Most managers and business owners understand how important employee engagement is to the success of their business.
Employees who are actively engaged at work are over 20% more profitable due to reduced absenteeism and staff turnover. The more you can engage your employees, the more productive they are, and engaged employees make happier teams that work better together.
All this is great stuff but what exactly does it have to do with content marketing?
The answer is that engaged employees can be the source of some of your most effective content for marketing purposes. Empowering and encouraging your employees to produce content is a way to turn every member of your team, at any level, into an effective salesperson.
Employee Advocates Are the New Influencers
Influencer marketing has already reached its peak and may be on a downward spiral. Using influencers with a large and dedicated following to share information and productions has been a highly effective marketing technique for several years. But consumers are starting to realize that influencers aren’t always as trustworthy as they may seem, and influencer marketing is suffering as a result.
Influencer marketing can produce a strong ROI, but only when done carefully. Research by influencer marketplace Tomoson shows that 70% of companies earn $2 or more for every dollar spent. However, 18% of businesses see no return on investment at all.
The main reason for this failure is choosing influencers that are a poor fit for the business. Getting a celebrity with 5 million followers to advertise your business or product might seem like a great idea at first. But if that individual has earned a reputation of taking every brand collaboration that comes their way, and promoting random products and services in every post, the trust and effectiveness of their message is greatly reduced.
Some brands are getting around this issue by investing in “micro-influencers” with a smaller following and selecting only those who are a great fit for the brand. But there is another type of influencer marketing that can be even more effective, especially in a B2B context.
Employee advocacy means using your own employees as spokespeople to promote your brand’s message to the outside world.
There’s nobody that knows your business and your brand better than the people who work within it every day. That’s why employee-produced content can be some of the most authentic and engaging you’ll ever publish.
Using your employees to create and share content puts a human face on your brand that is so much more likable and compelling than a generic, faceless corporation. Brand messages are shared 24x more when they’re distributed by the company’s employees rather than the brand itself.
Distributing content via your employees’ social media channels also means you’ll benefit from a much wider reach than your official brand channels only. And as individuals only share content they’re personally interested in and agree with on their personal channels, you’ll achieve better engagement and a more authentic voice.
Implementing an Employee Advocacy Program
So how should you get your employees involved in your content marketing efforts in a practical sense?
Start with employee engagement. There’s simply no way that employee advocacy will be successful if your workforce isn’t engaged. Your employees must truly believe in the mission and value of your organization and want to contribute to the success of your business.
Make it easy for employees to share brand content on their own social media channels, and actively encourage this process. You can do this by highlighting content in your company newsletter and intranet, providing instant share links, and suggesting possible hashtags to be included alongside the content itself.
As well as encouraging employees to share content, actively involve them in its production. Rather than just using dedicated content producers, invite your employees to share their successes and write about their projects and areas of interest.
This employee-generated content not only aids your content marketing efforts, but it also makes your team feel that their opinions are valued. This, in turn, leads to better employee engagement in a positive feedback loop.
For example, Starbucks refers to its employees as “partners” in its brand social media guidelines, encouraging every employee to “Share your passion. We’re called partners, because this isn’t just a job, it’s our passion. So, go ahead and share it!"
Use Content Marketing to Engage Your Employees
This principle works in the opposite direction too. Your internal communication can be an effective way to engage your employees and make them feel like a valued part of your company.
When considering internal content marketing, focus on producing informational, educational content that will empower your employees to be more effective in their roles and assist in career progression.
Internal content should also be easy to access and digest. Make sure there’s time built into the working day to actually explore the information available on your company intranet and split the content into bite-size pieces so your employees can dip in and out between other work tasks.
Experiment with different formats too – videos and interactive content can work particularly well with educational content.
As well as educating your employees, you want to use content as an opportunity to remind them of your company mission and values. Share news about your goals and achievements as an organization, and include details of any charitable initiatives and how you’re working with the community in your internal newsletters.
Inspire and engage each individual with interviews and life stories of successful people within your organization. This not only helps your employees to learn more about the people they work with, but it also shows how each person has the opportunity to progress his or her career within the company.
These are just some ideas on how you can use internal content marketing to engage your employees. Make sure you’re not investing so much effort in marketing externally that you forget about the value of marketing to your own employees.