Employee generated content (EGC) is the standout new Marketing trend. Consumers no longer trust brands, they see corporations as faceless profiteers, feelings brought on by the 2008 financial crisis and intrusive advertising techniques used by brands the world over. Organisations have realised that promoting the people behind the brand shows a side of the organisation that is more accessible, real and unfiltered. However getting employees to support content creation can be a tough gig. Many employees don’t have the time, or the inclination to put pen to paper…or fingers to keyboard…Employees have their own tasks, responsibilities and deadlines, so building the WIIFM factor is incredibly important.
Below are a few ideas we have compiled to help you begin the process of engaging employee to create content on behalf of the brand.
1. Don’t force.
In most organisations there are employees who have hidden creative talents, talents that can be harnessed for the benefit of the organisation and the individuals themselves. Often, employers are unaware who these individuals are, and employees are unaware that these talents are useful to the business they work for. More often than not, employees just need a little encouragement to bring these hidden talents into the workplace. The point is, encouraging someone who has an interest in content creation in the first place is a far easier than converting someone who has no interest at all, so put your initial energy into finding out who these people are ASAP. We have already written in depth about the benefits of gamifying your advocacy programme, however just as important is the way you present your advocacy programme to your employees. Instead of treating it like work, position it as an opportunity for personal branding and potentially a shift in status. By simply changing the mindset to view content creation as an opportunity, rather than a duty, you can inspire your employees to adopt the strategy faster and for longer.
2. Different people like to express their creativity in different ways.
Not everyone is a writer, and our research actually shows that most employees hate writing blogs or articles. Give your employees ideas about all the different types of content you need to support the marketing program. In our experience employees love making videos. A great example of this was the mannequin challenge craze that swept the internet last year. The simple fact is, if you make it fun or link it to a charitable cause then you are far more likely to get buy in. This also shows the importance of communicating the program internally, ensuring everyone is aware
3. Hire for social.
The HR Director of a very large coffee house chain was once asked,”How do you manage to get your people to be so happy and friendly all the time?” He replied “We don’t, we just recruit happy people.” As your company starts to evolve into a social organisation, you can begin to think about incorporating social into every part of your employees daily activities. The easiest way to do this, is at the beginning of their journey. It should start by the way you attract talent, and enter the very job descriptions themselves. If you start to live on social as an organisation, then you are far more likely to attract social talent. This will make it easier to engage employees in social activities further down the line. Remember, there are more roles than just the content creator and poster within an employee advocacy strategy, as I highlighted in a previous blog Employee Advocacy Key Questions . Engage your workforce, find out who does what outside of the workplace, you may be pleasantly surprised that you have a Banksy in your midst.
4. Guidance is everything
Before you start engaging your employees to create content, it’s important to define the overall strategy and goals. This means providing your employees with a guide on what, how and for whom they are actually creating this content for. Many organisations have started their employee advocacy programmes, purchased expensive technologies to aid them, only to see them fail a few months later due to lack of adoption. It is really important to remember that technology is an enabler, it is not the solution. If you don’t have the right culture now, you are not in the right place to start an employee advocacy programme. Only cultures rooted in trust can do employee advocacy well.
Whatever your goals are, you need to develop a clear strategy and a set of tactics to reach your target audience. Building an employee advocacy programme is no different to any other marketing strategy or change and management programme, you need to spend half your time upfront preparing, listening and understanding before you actually start the programme itself.
Campaign Type – Define if it is for customer or talent acquisition or for internal communications.
Channels – Not all social channels were created equal, some content works better on certain channels than others, ensure your employees know where they should be focussing their efforts.
Title – GIve your campaign a title, and when possible associate a hashtag with the campaign so you can increase the chances of it going viral.
Description – Give your employees some back story on why the campaign has been created, how they can help. Use positive language and try to get them excited about the prospect of helping.
Viewing Permissions – Not every campaign is for every employee. There is no point in asking developers to create content for sales and marketing campaigns, unless part of your strategy is to use technical content to engage a particular customer type.
Message – As with all marketing campaigns, there needs to be an overall message, something that binds all the content together.
Campaign Objective – What is the actual goal of the campaign. Increase followers, reach, improve brand recognition or improve employee engagement? Setting out your goals early on is incredibly important, collaborators need to feel there is a point to the their efforts, setting and sharing goals will enable employees and marketers to benchmark their efforts and driving improvements.
Targeted Audience – As any Marketer will tell you, know thy audience. You should have already gone through a process of audience identification before you even set out to introduce an employee advocacy strategy. This should have included the creation of customer or candidate persona identities, and all should work alongside your brand guidelines and tone of voice. Although most companies have these docs, few share with their own employees. By sharing with your employees, it will help them picture who they are creating the content for.
Start Date and close Date- Marketing campaigns are rarely created and delivered in real time. Often Marketers and employer brand departments will think 12 months ahead, planning out their content strategy way in advance of actually sharing content publicly. Make sure your employees know this too, help them to understand and visualise how a well planned content marketing strategy works, and remember that they are not Marketers. Keep it simple, explain how customer and passive talent engagement works, and how planning ahead can help you to engage specific communities more effectively.
#Hashtags – help categorize your content, and get it in front of its intended audience. Hashtags also make it possible to monitor the performance of your campaign and increase virality.
We all need feedback, it’s an essential part of self improvement. Showing employees the fruits of their labour is a must if you want long term involvement Don’t just give feedback on the good stuff either, tell people where they are going wrong, and how they can improve. Similarly, don’t just feedback on social media posts, give employees creative appraisals on their photos, videos and any other content they may be making as part of the programme.
One of the most important takeaways from this article has to be the self assessment required to ensure you are ready for employee advocacy. Before you set off on your journey of employee empowerment, you must ensure that you have the underlying culture to support the programme, and for the long term. Employee advocacy is not a standalone Marketing campaign, it is a change and transformation piece that should underpin many of the customer, talent and employee communication decisions you make.
That said, the positive benefits of getting it right far outweigh the potential negatives. If you are an aspiring organisation that puts their employees first, you are already halfway there, and launching an employee advocacy programme could be the single most important thing you do this year.