By Definition a Social Business Creates a Lot of Content
In order for most businesses to create a lot of high quality content, employee participation is necessary. I’ve said many times, no marketing department is big enough to produce all the content it needs. Additionally, consider that in most businesses the marketing team is not comprised of domain experts.
Here’s what Forrester Research says on this topic: “Today’s B2B buyer will find three pieces of content about a vendor for every one piece that marketing can publish or sales can deliver. They are finding this content in an ever-expanding number and variety of channels.” Read the full article here.
The way I see it, there are two primary methods to harness employee involvement in a social business. One involves a carrot and one involves a stick.
You could mandate employees to contribute content. Revise the company policy to require employees who meet a domain expert criteria to contribute original content. Non-compliance with this policy could be cause for termination. If you’re going to take this approach, my recommendation is to provide employees ample resources to fulfill their obligation. For example, the marketing team should deliver a well planned communication plan explaining the virtues of a content marketing strategy to the business. Ideally, the CEO should have a hand in this plan with an endorsement of the strategy. This communication plan should serve to inspire employees to participate in the content production process by offering them choices of topics and content formats.
The marketing team should publish an editorial calendar with topics where employees can “sign up” to contribute content. Most importantly, the marketing team should provide an easy-to-comply-with process that allows content production to be painless to the employee. For example, offer to interview employees with a video camera so the interview will be recorded, edited and produced into high quality content by the marketing team. The marketing team should repurpose the video into other content formats such as a white paper or blog post. By allowing the employee to painlessly share her domain expertise through an interview format, you take away the heavy lifting from the employee. The result can be high quality content from domain experts. This approach mitigates the biggest objections from employees who are asked to contribute content: “I don’t have time,” or “I hate to write.”
The carrot approach does not threaten employees with termination if they don’t comply with company policy; “thou shalt contribute content.” Rather, this approach provides employees considerable recognition and reward for their contribution. The same methods described above can be used for the production of content. The difference is that psychology plays a much bigger role. Rather than requiring employees to contribute, you inspire employees so that they want to contribute for the recognition they receive and the sense of contribution to the overall good of the business. Such recognition can bolster their morale, their ego and even their resume. Don’t hesitate to promote the positive impact on the employee’s resume. When you implement programs that help an employee build their career currency, their loyalty to the employer strengthens considerably. Employees talk among themselves about many aspects of their employment. The carrot approach to content marketing participation fuels positive word of mouth for your brand. The improved loyalty also helps in your recruiting efforts.
Another approach is to start out with the stick approach and over a span of time transition to the carrot approach. Once employees beging to enjoy recognition for their content among their peers and even within industry circles, they understand the value of personal branding. Even more remarkable is the appreciation by the employee for the opportunity to build their personal brand under the umbrella of the corporate brand. I call this the halo effect.
The Content Marketing End Game
Reaching your target consumer and earning their trust is influenced less by the brand’s ability to engage him. Rather, it is influenced more by P2P content marketing. In people-to-people content marketing real people who work for a brand engage with real people who might be a customer, a prospective future customer, influencer or future employee. Considering that the C suite is not likely to double or triple the marketing department’s staff size, the only option to produce the content needed to reach target customers is to tap into the inherent assets in the employee population. Personally, I prefer the carrot approach. But, each company is unique. Whichever method works best in your business the important thing is that you recognize the authenticity of P2P content marketing and the economics of leveraging the content marketing potential of employees.