Sharing 9 tips on engaging staff within an organisation to create content
We find there is great enthusiasm for content marketing, but when we talk to marketers at companies and agencies, we find there are two common content marketing management challenges (amongst many). First, how do you make the business case for content marketing and prove its value post campaign and second, how to encourage colleagues with the specialist insights to create great content given limited time or inclination.
We are all busy, with our own priorities and responsibilities and it can be difficult to engage colleagues to understand the importance of relevant, interesting and up-to-date information to share with customers, prospects and stakeholders who can influence the sales or company brand.
This post was originally based around a discussion on our Digital Marketing Optimization LinkedIn Group. We still often get this question which we posed. The question was simply...
How do you persuade others in your organisation to create content for you?
Thanks to the 12 group members who contributed to this discussion, there were some great ideas sharing practical solutions to overcome barriers summarised below.
9 tips for encouraging content creation in a company
Here are the main learnings summarised from the discussion. We hope you find them useful. Many thanks to the contributors for giving their ideas - if you have other ideas, please share those too!
- 1. Showcase individual expertise
Neil commented that Law firms have a wealth of newsworthy stories to share but Senior Lawyers can be reluctant, in case they are giving away in-house secrets. He has encouraged sharing by illustrating that blogs and tweets can raise individual profiles and the standing of the firm.
Our comment: A carrot = Ego in this case is certainly better than a stick, by maybe others have found the stick helpful. That "giving away our secrets" is a barrier I've seen too, yet it's the best way of showing expertise and making the brand seem more approachable too.
Another success shared by Ian is to simply interview staff in a 10 minute session to access blog or audio content and to write-up the content on the Author's behalf. By providing published content, he started to see staff take control of their own content and become empowered.
Another tip from Ian is to show colleagues content from other companies and make the process 'easy and painless'.
Another great suggestion came from Martin who spends time training his team on the 'point, purpose and value of creating authentic branded content'. By engaging staff to share the company’s vision and values and how the content strategy fits into the sales and marketing for the firm, then it really works.
"Every Monday lunchtime, all of our team is required to submit a blog, following our schedule and showcase their expertise/interests, and staff are encouraged to share it across sites such as LinkedIn groups'. Staff are motivated when they can see their content being published and shared across social media sites".
Results? Quarterly blog schedules are produced, which are closely policed for content and quality. “our digital noise” reflects the “sales and marketing noise”.
- 4. Obtain Content from key stakeholders
Collaborating with key stakeholders, staff or the sales team can be rewarding. Ian has experienced this by working with his sales team, to encourage them to record the questions they are often asked or unable to answer. This has created a bank of FAQs, new Guides and Whitepapers to share.
Neil has followed the same path and in his words ‘creating content from different stakeholders within the business can be a real winner in terms of securing long tail organic search marketing in my experience. Often, within the more manufacturing/technology oriented markets’.
His company has also created efficiencies through reducing phone calls, as the blog articles were very specific, they increased their organic listings too.
Our comments. Interviews are a great idea. Getting the feedback loop in place is good also to show how the content is being viewed, shared and even better its influence on sales (for example using Page Value in Google Analytics).
Contributors have highlighted the fear of blogging. Jonathan has experienced this and suggests that by not starting with a blank piece of paper, but providing a framework and then editing the content with keywords, until the Authors are comfortable with their own content and company style and guidelines. This has grown as staff are choosing and writing their own content.
Aimee addresses the 'ego approach'. 'People get bylines and mentions and this helps build not only the company brand, but their own personal brands. Who doesn't like to see their thoughts published, right? '. For colleagues who are more private, she interviews them individually.
- 6. Top down support, embedded into the organisation
Top down support from Senior Managers and Directors is key, so it’s not perceived as purely a marketing strategy. Jacky is a strong advocate of this and engages staff by providing 5 bullets points as a framework for Authors to edit, along with advice and guidelines (on confidentiality in particular), and shows a keen interest in their topics and expertise.
'For on going help, show contributors any feedback or comments you got on an article - or even new enquiries/sales. And don't forget to say 'Thank you'... several times if necessary.. Surprising how many people never thank their colleagues for their help'.
She overcomes resistance by asking Managers to write content creation into staff's job descriptions and feedback through personal performance reviews. It then becomes embedded into the organisation and not just one department.
To keep the momentum going and access fresh content can be a challenge. Christophe overcame the challenge of Authors focusing on corporate and institutional objectives by bringing together “traditional teams” into the project, reinforcing the importance of the value of content.
He has three steps:
- Train and raise awareness of the content creators to design and rework their content and understand the assets.
- Once content value is shared and understood, build content agenda (needs, planning, budget)
- All fails, hire a Dedicated Content Manager.
Adel creatively has run a staff contest and rewarded staff with prizes, for those who contributed the most to the blogs. She encouraged staff to write ideas onto a poster and had a great response. In turn, it motivated staff to continue to share ideas as they saw the visible corporate blogs and success.
Inviting external Experts or mentors can provide a ‘neutral voice’. Christophe benefited from inviting Dave to host a training workshop to raise awareness of the importance of content and it brought insights into the org, and speeded up the process of rolling this out.
We were prompted to post this in 2015 by a question from a member asking for advice on this challenge. I hope that's useful, thanks again everyone who commented originally! For further reading, see this related article by Arnie Kuehn on How to create a content marketing culture.