2016 is year in which brand storytelling has truly arrived. The overload of noise generated by “traditional” social media marketing, has become deafening and Marketing is looking for authentic ways to engage customers.
Ironically, the answer that has been “discovered” is to have employees be part of the brand storytelling engine, to have them create or co-create content with real value and less marketing.
It is ironic because the whole movement towards being a social business was supposed to achieve this organically. In reality this transition to a social business — with employees widely connected with customers — has been achieved by very few organisations.
In my experience, this lack of transformation to a social business is most often a failure of the purpose to be widely understood or to be perceived as sufficiently worthwhile.
Marketing as the change agent
On the other hand, Marketing has the will and the focused purpose to make employee storytelling happen. Typically the drive to participatory storytelling is driven by Marketing's need to:
- Drive brand awareness;
- Change brand perception;
- Educate clients and prospective clients;
- Provide insights;
- Influence buying decisions; and,
- Fill the sales pipeline.
The process of implementing this is not simple. It requires a good methodology with attention to the narrative, and channel strategy, the brand story and to activating and maintaining employee advocacy.
For all that, the most common initial challenge as organisations move towards brand storytelling and employee advocacy is the "content block" - "what could I write about?"
In other words, no matter how complete the plan, the actual development of actual content by each individual is often the biggest inhibitor to employees getting started and in continuing to generate good content.
We’ve found a simple way to get past that is “by example”.
Content ideas by example
The point being that the deployment of such technology to support employee content management should not only include flexible content curation, calendaring, workflow, approval paths, and posting but also good content performance metrics.
1. Best versus worst content
By selecting, say “most shared”, content from your own company blog, you can see the best performing, and the worst performing content. Employees can quickly see what content resonates and what doesn’t do well.
This process can be via group training, or via collaborative content access for staff, or both. It’s not a one-off process. It needs to be reinforced at intervals until the employees no longer need it.
2. Competitors’ content
The tools also give the same insights into other company’s content. So checking how your competitors’ content is performing also gives new ideas. You can take the ideas behind their high performing content and make it your own. This is especially useful if they are getting “buzz”, you can hop on the same bandwagon.
This process will sustain the ideas for employees for as long as needed, and is always useful. However after a certain time people will start to develop their own cadence of writing and the level of attention needed from Marketing will drop off. This is especially so if the technology has effective collaborative content development features.
We've found that having simple and fast access to content statistics makes a very effective tool to boost employee confidence and content production. These simple insights of best and worst content, on owned and competitors’ online properties, have very successfully unblocked the creative juices of employee advocates.