Employee advocacy is a powerful way to boost brand visibility—continuing this growth over time, on the other hand, requires a dynamic content mix beyond what’s curated in-house.
Too often, brands focus exclusively on sharing their own content, but employees aren’t always interested in content that’s purely promotional. In fact, this approach can almost guarantee your program’s interest and participation levels will eventually fade.
How Brand Visibility Builds Thought Leaders
Your employees are on social for a variety of reasons, and while these can differ from department to department, each team is primarily motivated by the benefits they receive on a personal level. In other words, helping Marketing hit their leads goal won’t always be at the top of everyone’s list.
To accommodate for these differing priorities, it’s important to present the right value of brand advocacy to the team it most affects.
Research by The New York Times found that the top 3 reasons that people share:
- 94% share to provide useful content
- 84% share to support causes or issues they care about
- 78% share information online to maintain relationships with people they might not otherwise stay in touch with
What each of these have in common is that they all contribute to relationship building—both on a personal and professional level. This is where strategic content curation on your end comes into play.
You’d never send top customers a daily email with repetitive content or generic messaging, so it doesn’t make sense to take this approach with your employees, yet expect a different result.
Try shifting your mindset that brand advocacy is just another content marketing distribution tool, and approach it similarly to how you’d build out a social media strategy. Consider introducing goals outside of the standard amplification KPIs, such as impact to domain authority, number of inbound links, engagement with prospects and growth of employees’ social voice and influence.
By setting goals that involve and benefit teams at a cross-departmental level, you’ll increase employee ownership of the success of your brand advocacy program as a whole.
1. Define Your Content Mix
Variety is the key to creating an environment for brand visibility to thrive. For example, you wouldn’t limit the elements of a full-scale marketing campaign to focus purely on promotional messages. You’d probably also include a series of blog posts, an educational webinar, relevant visual social content, an e-book or guide, and other lead magnets that open up the conversation in a more thought-provoking way.
Yet still, many advocacy programs continue to focus on requests to share branded content. While company blog posts and in-house content should certainly be a component of your brand and advocacy strategy, they shouldn’t be the only mediums available. Think through the other content types that boost both brand visibility and employees’ share of market voice.
A diverse content mix for your advocacy program should include a balance between:
- Owned content—select corporate content, including thought leadership, important brand announcements, and employee recognition
- Third-party content—articles from respected industry publications, content produced by industry analysts and thought leaders, research that provides insights into your audience and their needs
2. Identify Trusted Third-Party Resources
In order for brand visibility initiatives to appeal to employees, it’s critical to include external perspectives. This means doing your due diligence in identifying reputable publications, partnerships and making sure that if compliance is a factor for you, you address concerns ahead of time.
Some of these third-party content sources could include:
- Industry analysts and journalists that cover your area
- Established newspapers and magazines with large readership exposure
- Niche industry publications and blogs that serve your audience
- Professional industry associations
- Industry influencers and keynote speakers
- Non-competitive businesses that share your audience
- Partners and affiliates
Work with your Marketing and PR teams to flesh out your content curation sources and focus on amplifying the work of partnerships that are mutually beneficial. Look for sources that regularly produce and share the kind of content that amplifies and complements your brand’s image.
Although every program is different, aim for at least 50% non-branded content at launch. This shows commitment to leveraging the knowledge of industry experts, in-turn helping build your employees’ personal brands. Once your content curation strategy is up and running, you can experiment with the brand-centric vs. third-party content ratio.
3. Prioritize Your Asks
Even a small Marketing team is often working on curating multiple pieces of content at any given time.
Once your brand advocacy program proves to be effective in increasing reach, it’s likely that more people within the organization will want the opportunity to get into the queue. However, if you flood your advocacy platform with self-serving content, it will be difficult for employees to understand what they should be curating and how they should position the overall message. To solve this, you’ll need to prioritize your content asks.
Start by identifying which types of content are most resonating with employees and their social media audiences. If there is a distinct difference based on career level or department, consider surfacing content dynamically to employees depending on their specific interest or department.
Make sure to give background on the purpose of the post, along with providing stock messaging options that position the content appropriately. Again, always think about what’s in it for the employee. What positive outcome do they stand to gain as a result of sharing this piece of content content? If you can’t identify one, chances are your employees won’t be able to either.
With this in mind, start ranking your content requests and slate them in with other departmental initiatives. For instance, you could give 1-5 points, with 1 being doesn’t meet, 3 being somewhat meets, and 5 being completely meets the criteria of being useful, cause-oriented, relevant and relationship-driven. Each month, schedule the top 10 pieces of content based on how well they meet the criteria for sharing.
4. Create a Content Calendar
To be effective in raising brand visibility through advocacy, you’ll need a comprehensive, strategic content calendar. Without one, all you’re really doing is pushing pieces of content with the hopes of something sticking—the same is true for employee advocacy.
Map out a calendar one quarter at a time, noting any big initiatives, conferences or events, product launches and relevant holidays that might affect readership. Next, identify the various types of content—blog posts, podcasts, videos, infographics, e-books, webinars, etc.—you regularly produce and designate their frequency and availability for employees to share them with their social networks.
If you publish 3 blog posts per day, 1 podcast per week, 2 pieces of visual content every other week, and 1 e-book or guide per month, that would give you nearly 30 pieces of content to choose from each month. Your goal should be to provide employees with a variety of topics and content types.
With this information in hand, map out a posting schedule for each month that mixes topics, sources and content types over the course of the month.
Ensure Your Brand Visibility is Built to Last
Your brand visibility strategy has the potential to be a long-term benefit to your marketing efforts—so long as your program is presented as more than just a benefit to your brand.
By taking a strategic approach to your program’s content curation strategy, including relevant, high-quality external content, your employees can understand the added benefits beyond supporting the brand. Become their go-to source for compelling industry content and show that you’re committed to helping them build their own personal brands.