There never seems to be enough resources to execute all your killer content marketing ideas, does there?
No matter how large and prolific your team of creators, how efficient your creative processes are, or how ample your outsourcing budget is, too many great content ideas are left on the drawing board. Meanwhile, you’ve got an increasing number of gaps to fill with engaging stories across multiple platforms.
Fortunately, a solution is sitting practically under your nose: Enlist the assistance of fellow employees – including internal subject matter experts (SMEs) and colleagues in sales, customer support, and other functional departments.
Read on for tips on how to activate their interest, overcome common objections, and reap the rewards of having a wellspring of employee-generated content (EGC) at your disposal.
Tip 1: Provide process clarity and examples of success
Enlisting colleagues outside of marketing to help with content creation can be a big ask, if not a downright imposition. To make the request more palatable, set clear expectations and establish a framework for their participation. Use your process to solicit content from external industry experts or social community members to inform the EGC process.
Knowing in advance exactly what they’ll be asked to do and the time it will take can help reassure them they aren’t committing to something they don’t have the bandwidth to fulfill.
As part of their employee-centric LinkedIn evangelist program, B2B podcast company Sweet Fish created an internal document outlining requirements for participating, detailing what the commitment involves, and informing them of the benefits to both brand and employee. Those who join the evangelist program receive personalized brand development and content training and information on LinkedIn best practices.
It’s also helpful to provide examples of EGC efforts that performed well, so new contributors can get a feel for the types of content, tone, and voice used in their efforts.
In a LinkedIn post on how SaaS business Chili Piper activates its sales development reps (SDRs) as brand evangelists on social media, they point to a team member’s contribution. The SDR’s post generated strong engagement and inspired other employees to post similar content on their own profiles. (Special thanks to Emily Brady for sharing this example.)
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Tip 2: Provide tools, support, and training
Employees might raise objectives, such as they don’t have strong writing skills or they aren’t creative. While experience crafting quality copy certainly helps, EGC doesn’t need to be polished and perfected – or even in written form – to be an effective marketing vehicle.
To help reluctant contributors upskill and gain confidence in their writing abilities, consider providing support through these approaches:
- Invite them to the creative’s table: Ask interested colleagues to attend your editorial planning meetings and creative brainstorms. They can get a feel for your processes and goals and get a chance to weigh in with their ideas. Being “in the room where it happens” can deepen their interest and investment in bringing new content to life.
- Use technology to sharpen their skills: Experienced content marketers aim for technical precision when crafting copy. But it’s unrealistic to expect EGC creators to memorize the AP Style Guide before contributing content. Reassure colleagues that their writing skills can be developed and enhanced with the help of headline generators, apps like Grammarly and Hemmingway, fact-checking tech like Nexis for Media and Meedan, and other writing support tools. They’re easy to use, and many of them are available for free.
- Point them to training opportunities: If your company offers a career development program, aspiring creators may have access to writing classes, creative workshops, photography and videography training, and other educational resources. That can include free access to LinkedIn Learning courses, Udemy classes, or even internal training tools. Document the opportunities and post them on your internal newsletter, intranet portal, or Slack channel. It is an excellent way to let colleagues know your team welcomes their content contributions and wants them to feel prepared for the task.
- Create tutorials and guides: If no formal employee education program exists, try the DIY route: Ask your content team to write, screen-capture, or film the process as they do their next blog post, newsletter article, expert interview, or social content. Seeing how it’s done teaches colleagues the best practices and guidelines. This content also can be repurposed into brand-relevant lessons, such as tip sheets, how-to demos, and other behind-the-scenes stories to share on customer-facing platforms.
The CMI editorial team is always refining the guest blogging guidelines to onboard new contributors – internal and external. We include successful posts as models and educate writers on the kinds of submissions we accept. We also curated some of our best writing tips and advice from existing articles to produce an e-book on the secrets of successful content creation. We shared it with other teams across our enterprise.
Tip 3: Make content creation easy and organic to their experiences
If aspiring contributors still feel intimidated, you can develop more ways for them to contribute to the content marketing cause. For example, if employees already post brand-friendly content on their social streams, downgrade your ask to create content to a request to share content.
For example, Reebok used #fitasscompany on Instagram to provide a space for its employees to share photos from their personal workouts and other active hobbies.
Brands like Dunkin Donuts actively encourage employees to capture and post informal photos and videos of themselves during their workday using #DunkinCrewAmbassador. The company frequently reshares those posts on its official TikTok and Instagram profiles.
@clairerottman Popping bubbles coming soon @dunkin #dunkin #boba #dunkincrewambassador ♬ original sound – Claire Bear
Sephora makes it even easier for employees to play a role in creating the brand’s Instagram content: The company conducts employee profile interviews and shares snippets on its Sephoralife account, using #EmployeeSpotlight.
Not only do these approaches make it easy for non-writers to collaborate on content, but they tell a more personal and relatable brand story that tightly controlled and scripted content can’t.
Of course, it also takes less time on the interviewed employees’ part. This tip may not add more stories to your content calendar, but the subsequent amplification assistance from the employee can make a big impact on your brand’s reach, search rankings, and content performance.
Working with internal communication tools like EveryoneSocial, SocialWeaver, Bambu, and Hootsuite Amplify can help streamline the process. Use them to automatically distribute your freshly published assets to willing “content deputies” who can share those stories with a few clicks. Some such tools even provide scheduling capabilities, feedback surveys, and gamification features to make the experience more convenient and engaging for contributors.
Tip 4: Fuel their creative journey and provide an outlet to share personal passions
Employee-generated content doesn’t need to be about your company to further your content goals. Shifting the storytelling focus from brand to personal experiences of the workforce can result in relatable, empathetic, and engaging content.
One way to do this is to leverage team outings and events as a source of relevant, authentic brand stories. If your company hosts off-site retreats, allows colleagues to attend industry conferences, or organizes volunteer opportunities, consider splurging on a couple of disposable digital cameras or a photo booth or lending a few smartphones. These tools give employees everything they need to capture spontaneous moments of camaraderie and interactions throughout the day. They can livestream or post them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok.
On a smaller scale, you can organize a happy hour or host a cross-team trivia contest (live or virtual) to give colleagues something fun to talk about. Or approach individual colleagues who have exciting roles, unusual hobbies, or have taken part in unique work opportunities that your audience might be interested in. Ask to interview them or for them to snap and share a selfie or write a summary of their experience that your team can polish up and publish.
Look at this recent post on the We Are Cisco blog from a team member who moved to the United Kingdom as part of the company’s employee rotation program. It gave the author a chance to tell a personally meaningful story – one that Cisco also can use for its recruiting efforts.
Tip 5: Incentivize, celebrate, and recognize
For some team members, the chance to share their knowledge and exercise their creative skills are all the motivation they need to jump on the EGC train. But others might need to know WIFM (What’s In it For Me?). You need to give them a more compelling reason to participate.
Take a page from Walmart’s playbook and offer an incentive. On its employee-centric Instagram account WalmartSocialChamps, the company recently launched an associate video contest to solicit more brand-friendly visual stories from its workforce. In addition to offering a prize (a free trip to its Associate Week event), Walmart made it easy to enter by providing starter ideas, animation assets, filming tips, and posting instructions.
If a sweepstakes is too much for your marketing, provide rewards like gift cards or company swag. If your budget is non-existent, offer public gratitude and recognition. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Give a shoutout: After sharing the content they created, post a word of thanks or image of gratitude. Tag their personal social profiles or link to their personal website (with their consent). Not only is it a nice thing to do, it can raise their industry profile, grow their personal brands, and help them connect with others in their chosen communities to further their careers or achieve other personal goals.
- Invite them as a featured guest on your team’s Twitter chats, webinars, podcasts, or livestream video shows: If their initial content asset references a personal passion, hobby, or specialized skill, they might relish the opportunity to continue the conversation and connect with others who share their interests.
- Nominate them for company awards and recognition programs: It rarely hurts to raise HR and management team awareness of a colleague’s above-and-beyond efforts to support your brand, and it may even help get their name on the short list when their applying for an internal role or are up for a promotion.
EGC formula: Enlist, empower, and activate
The everyday responsibilities of co-workers outside the content team might not have a creative focus, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t ready, willing, and able to show off their knowledge, lend you their talents, and spread their enthusiasm for your brand. Often, all they need is some direction, encouragement, and the right motivation to get them started.
Please note: All tools included are suggested by the author. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
How to Cure “Lonely Marketer Syndrome”
If you feel lonely as a digital marketer, you are not alone.
According to an ongoing survey conducted by CareerExplorer, marketing managers rate their career happiness at 3.1 out of 5 stars, which puts them at the bottom 40% of careers.
Why would a job that involves the most entertaining and fun aspects of business, that being growth, change, and interaction between business and customer, lead to such an unsatisfactory rating?
Further, how could a job that is perfectly suited for remote working still rate so low?
Why Marketers Are Unhappy
There are lots of reasons why someone could be unhappy with their job, but for now, let’s focus on the five core factors that generated a 3.1 star rating for marketing management. We’ll expand it a bit to accommodate soloprenuers/consultants and marketing agency owners as well:
- Compensation & Revenue
- Personality Fit
- Work Environment
- Skill Utilization
Marketing Compensation & Revenue
Marketing Managers aren’t happy with their salary, even though they rate very high according to CareerExplorer’s survey. With an average of $135,000, marketing managers are the highest among similar careers like management consultants, investment fund managers, online merchants, operation managers, advertising managers, human resource managers, and project managers.
On the marketing business side, marketing agency revenue has continued to increase as well. According to Statista, digital advertising agency revenue grew from $5.69 billion in 2012 to $30.6 billion in 2022, an increase of 437% over 20 years (22% average annual increase).
Even so, they’re not happy!
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Do marketing managers find their work meaningful? Most of them don’t according to the survey. They ranked meaningfulness at 2.7 out of 5 stars.
How about the personality fit of people who are marketing managers? According to the survey, marketing managers rank fit as 3.8 out of 5 stars. Not bad considering! Still not great.
What about the work environment of marketing managers? That’s not bad as well, with a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. Even so, it could be better.
Finally, let’s talk about skill utilization. Do marketing managers feel that they’re using their skills to an adequate degree? They have skill utilization a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Again, not bad but not great either.
Overall, marketing professionals are missing on a lot of the key factors that lead to job and life satisfaction. Could there be a root cause for the disconnection?
Why the Marketing Profession is Awesome
We now have some insights into why the marketing profession may not be ideal, now let’s examine why it’s a really, really good job for some people. Let’s use those same survey factors to discuss.
Marketing Compensation & Revenue
Marketers make GOOD money. The survey by CareerExplorer said $135,000 average, which sounded high to me, however, Salary.com confirmed the range with the median being $113,582. No matter how you look at it, that is a great paycheck.
This is an abstract measure, but I think marketers have a huge opportunity to find meaning in marketing. Your job directly impacts the success of businesses. Businesses provide goods and services for their customers, while also providing paychecks for 47.5% of the population of the USA. What’s more meaningful than helping 58.9 million people to get paychecks?
The marketing profession is perfect for people who like networking, extroverts that like building relationships, number-heads who love analytics, creatives who like constantly creating new media, attention-seekers who love interacting with audiences, and business people who like money. If your personality fits into any of those groups, you can find a good fit with marketing.
Marketers to work pretty much anywhere, PLUS there are tons of networking groups, expos, masterminds, courses, and other events to attend all year long all over the planet. You can work from home, work at an office, travel to clients’ locations, or take your laptop to the beach. A marketer can create their own work environment if they want to!
Few professions utilize a more dynamic list of skills than marketing. From technical to analytical to creative to relational, marketing requires the utilization of vast, complex, and evolving skillsets. You will never get bored with a marketing career because you never know what you’re going to need to know next. Better yet, you have the opportunity to create entirely new skillsets that no one has even considered before!
Loneliness is Bad for Productivity
With all that said, why are marketers still unhappy? I believe that the majority of marketers are more socially-minded than your average person. They crave connection between people. That could be connection with other marketers, connection between companies and their customers, and connection between owners and marketing professionals.
Problem is that since marketers can work anywhere, they often default to working remotely. As of mid-2022, Linkedin reported that jobs offering “remote work” increased 457% year over year. Remote working for marketing roles working remotely increased 177% in just the first half of 2022.
What do you get when you have primarily “social” people working remotely? You get lonely, and loneliness hurts productivity, creativity, and health.
Research by Dr. Vivek Murthy showed that loneliness and depression cost employers $44 billion a year. A study of remote workers found that one in five said “loneliness” was their biggest struggle.
So, while marketers are generally well paid and provided with challenging work that engages their personalities, they are faced with loneliness which greatly impairs work satisfaction. How do we fix the issue?
How to Fix Lonely Marketer Syndrome
The fix may seem obvious, but it is usually missed or approached too casually in most cases. Marketers need to become part of marketing communities. Not just any communities however, the ones that will truly impact their business and mindset will have the following characteristics:
#1: Formal Education Systems
Ideally, your community should have a proven set of frameworks that other marketers (preferably hundreds or even thousands) have used to succeed.
#2: In-Person & Online Events
Online events are great, but if there is no planned in-person event, you’re going to be missing an important part of connecting with others: seeing them “for real.” Your new community should have plans for in-person meeting opportunities, even if it’s just once a year.
#3: Broad & Narrow Specialty Groups
If you can find a network with a significant amount of people in your specific marketing niche, great! Just note that they should also be connected to broader topics so that you can learn more about interacting with entire marketing teams, not just people do the exact same work as you do.
#4: An Established History
Brand new groups are great, but there’s nothing worse than committing to a brand and having it disappear on you. Ideally, look for marketer communities that have been around for at least 5 years, but preferably longer.
#5: A Hierarchy for Ascension
The best communities provide opportunities for their members to grow and contribute, with the possibility of becoming a thought-leader, teacher, or contributor to the knowledge contained within an organization. Look for groups that have positions, awards, and prizes for top community members.
Where to Find the Right Marketer Community
Lucky for you, you’re already on the right website! DigitalMarketer has been growing their marketer community since 2008. With over 120,000 marketers completing courses, thousands of contributors, and over 1 million email subscribers, DigitalMarketer is the community of choice for marketers in over 60 different countries.
Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first certification with a Lab Membership, an agency owner looking to scale with our Certified Partner network, or a successful business owner looking to scale with the M3 Mastermind, DigitalMarketer is the place to be.
Beat Lonely Marketer Syndrome and join us today!