I first started blogging when I moved to Norway in 2009. I didn’t blog to become famous or to gain followers. I did it because I generally have a terrible memory and wanted to keep a record of our adventures living in a different country (which you can find here). After three years I had a shock – somehow, I had accumulated over 3000 subscribers and Lonely Planet contacted me to guest review their latest Oslo city guide!
Listen to this blog:
As an employee of SAP, I created content that wasn’t at all related to ERP or HR and Marketing systems, but around a topic that I was passionate about – Norway! And therein lies the key – Employee Generated Content (ECG) will come from a place of passion and purpose. Not a place of obligation or duty.
- In total, employees have 10x (on average) more followers than a brand's account.
- Content shared by employees gets 8x more engagement than content shared through branded channels.
- Employee posts get reshared up to 24x more than a branded post.
Now, I need to make it clear that whilst I enjoy blogging, I’m not a professional writer. I’ve had no training and in fact, helping my girls with their English homework often finds me Googling phrases like ‘split digraph’ and ‘fronted adverbial’ (which incidentally I thought was a part of the human body.)
My content is different because it’s 100% me. What you read is what you get and for those that know me, you can probably hear me write as a speak.
What Is Employee Generated Content?
Employee Generated Content (ECG) is content that is created by your employees and it can take the form of blogs, videos, podcasts, social media or images. Like User Generated Content (UGC), this content is entirely crafted by employees with little or no support from marketing and is therefore deemed more credible and trustworthy in the eyes of the reader.
Why Is It Important?
Content is important to any digital inbound company but employee generated content can take your organisation to a whole new level. When you encourage your employees to be front and centre of your thought leadership efforts, you create content that is authentic, trustworthy and credible. Look at these statistics from the LinkedIn and Edelman study about thought leadership content.
- Almost 50% of decision makers spend one hour or more reading thought leadership per week
- 42% of decision makers agree they are more willing to pay a premium to work with an organisation that produced thought leadership versus those that do not
- 59% of decision makers agree that an organisations thought leadership is a more trustworthy basis for assessing its capabilities and competencies than its marketing materials
Which Of Your Employees Should Be Creating Content?
To be honest, any employee that wants to create content should be encouraged and coached to do so, no matter their passion or purpose within the organisation. Helping them to find their voice and have the courage and confidence to talk about it is critical to content success.
In most organisations, technical or industry experts are encouraged to share their knowledge and expertise online. They are engaged with customers directly and therefore closer to the issues that most resonate with them. However, this is the audience that has the least amount of time to invest in creating content but that’s a different topic altogether – keep reading!
What’s Stopping Your Employees From Creating Content?
The reasons to stop employees creating content are quite different depending on the individual and the role. Here are some of the reasons that we’ve heard:
- Time – it takes time to write a blog or record a video but it often takes more time to prepare what you want to say.
- Fear – some employees are nervous about saying something wrong or inaccurate or exposing themselves to criticism.
- Not a writer – many employees feel they cannot write. When English isn’t their first language, this becomes even more of an issue. But content takes different forms.
- Nothing to say – employees have no idea how much incredible knowledge they possess and often feel that others wouldn’t be interested in what they have to say – wrong!
How To Encourage Employees To Explore Content Creation
Your employees may not realise but they’re probably creating content already. If they have an Instagram or Facebook account, they’re likely to be engaging and even sharing content with family and friends, just within a different context.
Encourage employees to first curate content. Ask them to share useful articles they’ve read or books they’d recommend. If you have an employee advocacy tool or internal Enterprise Social Network (ESN) you can do this via those platforms.
Then invite employees to join an internal mini campaign sharing their pet photos for #WorldPetDay or the view from their home office. At Tribal we hosted a “Guess the desk” competition which was fun. Content where there is no right or wrong answer as well as quick and easy to create.
The Role Of Marketing With Employee Generated Content
So, how can marketing facilitate this process? Marketing needs to understand how the role of content is changing. There’s no question that thought leadership content is important to the decision-making journey, but it needs to be injected with a human touch. At the end of the day, people are influenced by people.
Consider earmarking some of your content budget for employee generated content. Spot your social superstars who are ready for the next step in their social media journey – content creation. Discover what kind of media they prefer to use (hint: not everyone wants to write) and utilise your budget to make that happen. Share their content via your employee advocacy tool so their peers can share with their networks. Marketing will move from creating content to facilitating the content process – something to think about!
Employee Generated Content needs to come from a place of passion and purpose
At the end of the day, content creation cannot be a forced process. If employees aren’t ‘feeling’ the excitement, they aren’t ready. This process is a marathon, not a sprint. So, start small and build over time. Here are some classic mistakes to avoid:
- One of the worst mistakes involves creating content and attributing it to an employee with little or no input from them. It damages their personal brand and your company brand.
- Allocating topics to your employees when they have no interest in them. Whilst it may be a priority for your business, if your employee has no passion for it, it will be too much hard work.
- Assuming employees want to blog. They don’t. Some feel more comfortable in front of a camera whilst others love to work behind a microphone. Find the media that best fits your expert.
- Treating all employees, the same. They aren’t. An executive/leader will have a different content strategy to your technical experts in pre-sales. Everyone has their own story. Embrace individuality.
- Forcing employees to be social in the ‘corporate way’. Just don’t. Find your employees where they’re hanging out already and create communities around them.