How to cultivate employee-generated content to boost your brand

Your co-workers know your business inside out, and their personal outreach means more to established and potential customers than a company statement or a quote from the CEO.

One overlooked and valuable resource for content marketing is a business’s own employees.

With people spending more and more time online and consuming content in all its rich and varying forms, the message is clear: Content marketing is here to stay, and it’s essential to promote and harness employee-generated content.

Employees recognize the needs of your customers, are experts at what they do and understand the company’s goals and challenges. Their human touch can provide a more authentic voice than the official word of the company or even that of the CEO.

Nielsen and Edelman reinforce this perspective with research showing people will trust a brand’s employees more than they will the organization itself.

A large or even mid-size organization must have a social media policy guiding and encouraging its employees to post online. Yet many large organizations have done the opposite, creating heavy-handed policies prohibiting or discouraging their employees from engaging on social media, let alone representing the company.

This affords you and your employees an opportunity to distinguish your brand online.

How can your harness the value of your co-workers as content publishers? Here are a few tips:

Start with those who are already doing it

Some of your employees are probably publishing content regularly through their available channels, whether that’s a blog, a post on LinkedIn or some other forum.

  • Do you know who they are?
  • Do you know what they stand for?

Enlist these people by finding points of intersection between the organization’s communication objectives and their own. Don’t mandate specific messaging or formats. Instead, work with the employee on the formats and messages that fit their brand and style—all within the guidelines of your social media policy, of course.

Download the free white paper, “Creating a Consistent Message,” to discover how to keep your organization’s message and voice on track across all your internal communications platforms.

Praise them publicly

Promote the good work of employees just as you would with external people who create great content or talk about the brand.

  • Tag them in status updates
  • Favorite and retweet their tweets

Your employees and others-including key stakeholders- will notice the support for your staff.

Offer opportunities for others to enlist

Make it clear how other employees can join the effort.

Through analytics, you can suggest topics that your audience is engaging with and even the formats that would be most effective. Establish a simple process for your employees to share and respond to content.

Make it easy to spread the word

The voice of employees in developing content is an asset, and their distribution capability can extend to audiences that normal marketing and media placements probably wouldn’t reach.

To make the most of this potential you should:

  • Provide wide access to company stories through company servers and Intranets
  • Ensure that it is clear that this content is not confidential and meant to be shared
  • Provide the content in a variety of formats
  • Internally promote content that your employees are publishing
  • Make sure your social media policy is clear and easy to find

Measure, get feedback and refine over time

Align this stream of work with your overall content marketing or digital marketing strategy.

Develop hypotheses relating to the content that you feel will maximize reach and engagement and lead to specific actions.

Do the proper tagging to connect your business objectives and hypotheses to the reporting and analysis. Measure the reach and engagement your employees have in publishing through various platforms. You can even measure this impact on your overall business and efforts.

LinkedIn, for example, offers a content marketing score to measure their effectiveness versus that of the competition. Two out of four of these factors relate to employee creation and distribution of content. An organization can track between LinkedIn and its own website to measure platform engagement and what content and actions link back to the organization’s website.

Conclusion

Content marketing opportunities extend well beyond the entrenched boundaries of the marketing team and its agencies. Enlist your employees in developing and curating compelling content and sharing it through their platforms and networks.

It’s a great way to keep content fresh and relevant to your target audiences and beyond.

Scott Heron is the founding partner of Sonar Group, a digital marketing agency focusing on the business end of marketing and helping clients increase their bottom lines. A version of this article originally appeared on ClickZ.

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