There is no doubt that content creation plays a major role for your organization.
Think about where content is adding value to your organization currently: marketing, social media, sales, employer branding, recruiting, and internal communications.
Content is everywhere and impacting everything. More than you may even have thought about or realized until just now.
This is not about activating employee content creators for the sake of checking a box, but enabling content that has purpose and results in tangible value for your audiences. Great content creation continues to succeed and help all areas of your business thrive.
Yet all too often organizations only rely on a few people to create content — typically someone (or multiple people) in the marketing department. While they might be the gatekeepers, organizations need to consider activating employee content creators beyond their marketing department.
Some of our top-performing content on social media has been off the cuff posts from sales, engineering, and client success managers!
- What Are Employee Content Creators?
- Why Activating Employee Content Creators Matters
- How to Active Employee Content Creators
Who Are Employee Content Creators?
Every employee in your company can be considered a content creator! Will they all want to create content on behalf of your organization? Probably not, and that’s okay, this is not something your company can force or require (if it’s not specific to their hired job).
But in our digital age, people are creating and sharing often on social media channels. Many might be writing blog posts, taking pictures, recording video or other forms of medium on some consistent basis.
The world is filled with content and people ready to consume, even with the influx of information everyday.
Is everyone an exact expert in creating the best content? Of course not! But that’s what makes activating them with some guidance so valuable to your organization. It doesn’t read like contrived content.
Why Activating Employee Content Creators Matters
Hopefully I got your attention so far. And you might even be a bit skeptical about why activating employee content creators is a good idea.
How are we going to organize and ensure that hundreds, maybe thousands of employees are not tarnishing the brand by creating or posting the wrong thing?
There’s an element of workplace self-accountability here however: employees who enjoy their work and value their company are not going out of the way to do brand damage.
And second, if you can’t trust them or are worried about what they might create — that’s more of a hiring issue that should be addressed.
Naturally, your company can’t just unleash employees to create or share either, as you want to develop some boundaries and organize results properly (more on that in the next section).
But let’s dive into why activating employees as content creators is incredibly valuable for your brand.
Buyers Consume Differently
Your company’s target buyers are no longer impressed by traditional marketing. The old tactics can certainly have an influence, but everyone is bombarded with ads and traditional content marketing or sales pitches everyday.
And over the years, we have all adjusted to basically ignore and gloss over these things.
Instead, buyers focus on doing their own research. They want to build connections first, and are looking for educational or interesting material that doesn’t read like a sales pitch.
Content created by employees and shared to their networks stands out and is less invasive to current buyers and even potential buyers. Plus, employee content builds new awareness to buyers who may not realize your brand existed at all.
Humanizes the Brand
Generally, the brands that have the most success with their content and social engagement are the ones who communicate their brand as a human. Meaning, everything feels natural and almost like a conversation with a real person.
Seriously, think about some of the brands you tend to like and look at their content. Their branded accounts don’t feel like robotic marketers that are overly promotional all the time. The content is written like it’s personalized to the specific reader and feels genuine.
More often than not, these brands have one of two things front and center at all times: customer stories, or employee stories. The experience of your employees is a vast untapped resource that can captivate an audience as diverse as your company’s personnel.
Activating employee content creators is an even easier way to really humanize your brand and have more of an impact on audiences. These are people who best know your company and now become the face of the brand, instead of just a company logo.
Personalization, human connection, genuine interactions, and empathy are huge aspects to marketing and sales these days. In order for your company to generate results, you have to slow down promotion and focus on getting to know your audiences on a personal level.
Create A Strong First Brand Impression
When you see multiple employees sharing, creating, and engaging different content related to their work and personal life, what do you think?
Personally, it tells me the company trusts and rallies around their employees. It tells me these employees believe in the work and their company. It also brings to my attention the brand, product and or services.
This is exactly how companies like Drift, G2, and others have gained my attention in the past. And guess what, we are customers of both now!
Of course, the products needed to be valuable to our strategy, but their brand caught my eye through content from employees — before I caught on to the actual brand marketing or the company itself.
Naturally when you have a few hundred employees creating content that educates or is interesting about their brand, it shows up in more social feeds. It starts to have a ripple effect as more and more people begin seeing this employee-generated content.
One of my go-to examples is about one of our clients.
They have almost 1,000 employee content creators actively developing and sharing content, which has a combined social reach of over 800,000. That’s also 3x what their branded accounts have when added together.
Their Content Resonates Differently
A brand is ultimately a narrative, and driving this ongoing story is the company comprised of storytelling humans.
And each employee has unique perspectives, experiences, thoughts, and creativity to unleash to the world. Customers and ambassadors are also part of the brand narrative.
All of these storytellers’ content and social posts connect with audiences differently than content from branded accounts would, even if the branded accounts try to superficially personalize the content experience.
The idea is to combine both content efforts together to really drive the impact across the entire organization.
But content that comes from employees puts a face to the information. It’s a real human, sharing and creating, speaking in terms that are meaningful to you as a buyer, user, enthusiast, or prospector, etc. Content from brands — even though there is a real person managing it — can still feel like a brand pitch.
And the statistics out there prove that employee content, shares, and recommendations drive much more impact:
- Brand messages reached 561% further when shared by employees vs the same messages shared via official brand social channels (MSLGroup)
- Content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels. (Social Media Today)
- Peer-to-peer marketing is the leading driver behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. (McKinsey)
How to Active Employee Content Creators
So now you probably are understanding why employee content creators are key to your business strategy. Again, the big impact will be on your brand, marketing, and sales — but it will impact all areas of your organization.
If the above sounds great, you are probably wondering now how to properly activate and organize this process. It can sound daunting if your company has thousands of employees, but not to worry as it can be done.
Prioritize and cultivate your work culture
Without a doubt, your company needs to have a strong work culture where employees already are rallying around your brand. This goes deeper than providing office perks — you have to put the employee experience first.
Any company initiative or introduction of a strategy that involves passionate employees will be a much easier transition.
If you have a great culture, then keep doing what you are doing! Which is to say, if your employees evangelize your brand unsolicited and devoid of perks like a beer keg in the office, then you’re on the right track.
(If your employees evangelize your brand simply because you have free snacks and a beer keg in the office, you might have a problem however). 😅
Without saying, the best employees don’t sign for the bonus because they believe in the company mission, and the best brands don’t need perks to activate employee content creators. Perks are nice though. Enough about perks. 🏓
Create a plan to optimize the company’s work environment, culture, HR services and events.
Ask yourself: how can we invest in the employee experience as much as they are investing their time and effort into our company?
Inquiries such as this will open up many possibilities for enabling employee content creation and authentic brand impact.
Harness current employee advocates
You might not realize it, but your company probably has some strong employee advocates already. Those who already are talking about your brand online, creating content, engaged with the work community, and more. They might be antagonists criticizing your brand, and that’s cool too!
By identifying your advocates (and antagonists) and reaching out to them, you can help harness their insights and techniques to help guide how you’ll increase this initiative to others.
When these insights and excitement comes from other employees, not only in the executive positions, it can help encourage other employees to care more about creating content and sharing their voice.
Make content and social ingrained in the company
One of our clients said it best.
“We’ve stopped calling Advocacy a ‘program’ and are working to simply make it WHAT WE DO. This is part of our culture, and the platform is available to everyone. If you work here, part of what we do is share, discover, and create great content.”
That is the best attitude and position to have when it comes to activating employee content creators.
When onboarding new hires, you make advocacy part of the process as well. You’re not forcing employees, but you are enabling them from day one.
Set basic guidelines and provide simple workshops
While the content creation process sounds great, your company should still put some basic guidelines or workshops in place.
This allows employees to quickly access, learn, and understand the proper way to create and engage on behalf of the brand.
- Social media policy for employees
- Video trainings for employees to learn
- Workshops lead by an employee advocate
Just a few ideas, but you can get creative to start engaging employees more.
Show employees how it benefits them beyond the company
The one thing many organizations forget is to ensure their people know what’s in it for them.
Remember: activating employee content creators is an investment in their experience and career too!
They are already busy with their daily job duties and you can’t force them to create or share on your company’s behalf. But, if by showing how it’s mutually beneficial you’ll find that more people are interested.
- Helps them grow their professional networks
- Leads to more professional opportunities
- Increases thought leadership among their peers
- Keeps them more informed and increases knowledge
- Company incentives for getting involved
Make it easy for employees to create and share
The last aspect to organizing employee content creators is utilizing an employee advocacy program. This is the central location for all content and employees to stay engaged.
Employees can join groups of content that interests them and share to their social networks right from the platform. They can suggest content, create content like text, video, or pictures and share.
And employees can also create internal content only for their colleagues which drives company culture engagement and knowledge sharing.
While sharing branded or third-party content with individual insights is important — it’s user-generated content that helps humanize the brand and drive further engagement.