Creating high-quality content that will engage your audience is important. But if no one ever sees it, you may as well not have bothered.
Too often the bulk of the content marketing budget is decked against content creation, without much left over for paid content distribution. One way to increase your content’s reach without increasing your budget is to integrate employee advocacy into your content marketing strategy.
Integrating Employee Advocacy Into Your Content Marketing Strategy
The two primary ways employee advocacy can integrate with your content marketing strategy are through content creation or as a channel in your content distribution process.
Many of your employees have significant industry expertise both from their current position in your company, and from their prior work experience. Tap them to create niche content that solves some of the thorny problems that your customers need to have solved.
If the employee isn’t a writer, that’s OK too. You can tap their expertise through interviewing them or inviting them to record their thoughts on a specific topic. Then you can have a content creation pro turn it into a polished piece of content.
Including content creation as a part of your employee advocacy program isn’t just helpful to your content marketing team. It’s also a great way to publicly recognize and support the employees who are serving your customers every day. It feels good to see your byline on the company blog, and shared across the company’s social media channels!
Your more experienced employees are also likely to have industry networks that include potential customers. By including employee advocacy in your content distribution process, you give these employees a reason to reach out broadly or individually in their network to share helpful, branded content.
Getting Employees Excited About Becoming Brand Advocates
People often dread getting emails asking them to share company content on their social channels. Inevitably, it’s an agitated email from an executive sent to the entire organization, which tells them to share some product-centric blog post. Now.
No thank you! Your employees are not going to rally and enthusiastically share company propaganda with their friends and family–no matter how urgent the email. Or perhaps even with an inverse proportion to the urgency of the email.
That’s why it’s important to build relationships with your employee advocates over time. And make it clear what’s in it for them.
One of the best ways to get employees excited about brand advocacy is to incorporate an overview into your social media and content marketing activities—and how they can participate—during the new employee orientation process.
At Anaplan, as part of the brand advocacy component of our new employee orientation sessions, we took new hires on a virtual tour of our most important social media channels. Not only did we encourage employees to follow the channels, we pointed out current examples of employee engagement with that content.
Structuring Your Employee Content Sharing Program
Many of your employees already share industry news and influencer content on their social channels. By including that sort of third-party content in your employee advocacy program’s sharing library, your program becomes a valuable asset for your employees, not just another ask.
Resist the temptation to include all of your content in the sharing library. Instead, focus on top-of-the-funnel pieces that are likely to appeal to a more general professional audience.
In addition to helping employees build their brand through assisting with their content curation, think about other motivators. If your organization thrives on friendly competition, having a public leaderboard can increase employee engagement with your program. Other organizations may find using a point system where employees can earn points toward a tangible reward works well.
Whatever you do though, don’t try to force employees into sharing outside of their comfort zone. Some marketing department heads have the opinion that if employees don’t want to share brand content, they shouldn’t work for the company. This expectation can dramatically overstep the boundaries of what employees are and are not willing to do. Further, if your employees continually share brand content that isn’t relevant to their social channels’ audiences, it’s not going to support your content marketing goals.
Tracking the Success of Your Employee Content Distribution
If your company enjoys a little friendly competition, it is important to include a public record of which employees are driving the most engagement with your content. This can be done by using a dashboard built into an employee brand advocacy platform. Or, if you want to tie it more directly to business goals, you can use individual URLs that contain information regarding who shared the content in the information passed through via the link’s UTM parameters.
Another measure of success is to benchmark employee engagement levels before and after the launch of your employee advocacy program. If you’re doing your outreach well, your employee advocacy program should result in employees feeling more aware of company news and initiatives, and the business goals to which they are contributing. All of these outcomes should have a positive impact on your company employee engagement levels.
Erika Heald is a San Francisco-based marketing consultant and freelance writer. She focuses on helping technology and specialty food startups define their content marketing strategy to drive lead generation and customer loyalty. Erika led and grew high-performance content marketing teams at Highwire PR, Anaplan, and Achievers. You can find her on her blogs erikaheald.com and erikasglutenfreekitchen.com, or hosting the weekly #ContentChat Twitter chat.Find Erika Heald on Twitter @sferika.
How Employee Advocacy Can Jumpstart Your Content Marketing Strategy
Written by Erika Heald on April 10, 2017