Today more than ever we have to empower employees to tell our brand story – to be brand evangelists. When employees are excited about their brand, consumers become excited too. Brands such as Apple and Google have mastered this. But how do companies who don’t sell the most exciting products inspire this same trust from in their employees?
Many companies fall short on doing a good job of communicating with their own employees, let alone extending their brand storytelling to those they hope to recruit or potential customers. We are going to take an introspective approach and suggest: Storytelling starts from the inside out. This means to begin a focus on sharing your company’s values and perspectives consistently across all internal and external channels. By pairing up with your human resources (HR) department to create an internal content strategy, your company can fuel brand evangelism, develop a new source for content, create a network of employed media and attract the right hires to make sure the story you want is being told.
Internal Content Marketing
As an HR initiative, internal content marketing strategies mainly focus on improving the people within organizations, AKA employees. Many organizations accomplish this through company newsletters, Intranet, or utilizing enterprise social network tools such as Yammer and Socialcast. The type of content you can create is vast, but should be thought out in order to promote both personal and professional growth. Anything from financial tips, industry news, a summary of new benefits or benefits that people may have forgotten, personal exciting news about fellow employees, or your top blog posts from last week, are all fair game. As a company begins to provide consistent valuable and informative internal content to employees, advantages include:
- Awareness of policies and benefits
- A sense of belonging among co-workers
- Providing valuable information or strategies to improve work
- Improved service
- Increased performance
- Engaged employees
With the introduction of internal content marketing, HR departments can strengthen business policy awareness so that employees will be more conscious of it, digest it, make use of it and become more engaged within the organization. Overall, this will help employees better align themselves and work habits with your company’s brand and expectations. If the experience customers have with your employees doesn’t match the stories you are telling, even investing money in external marketing efforts won’t save your brand.
Furthermore, according to a Gallup study, engaged employees are more valuable since they are likely to be more productive, profitable and customer focused. Twenty-five percent of employees who are well informed about their organization’s expectations of them, are more likely to improve their overall performance. Having knowledgeable content surrounding resources matched to the professional and personal needs of employees help daily productivity, provide insights to issues and reinforce company culture.
Growing Your Employed Media
A more engaged pool of employees also means you have an additional network to push your business related content through. Known as “employed media,” this encourages your employees to share company content. However, before most employees (even the engaged ones) take the plunge and share your company’s content, they often need to know what content even exists for them to use, as well as the “what’s in it for me?” factor.
You should be treating each piece of internal content as carefully as any external piece. There should be buttons to link employees to social media pages and easy access to sharing content. You may also need to sit down with your employees and teach them how sharing your company’s content not only benefits the company, but benefits them too. “Employed media” can help build employees’ personal brands, increase company sales (affecting commission and raises) and help give them a say in who should be their next co-worker via their social recruiting efforts.
How can you make “employed media” accessible and easy to use?
- Put your content in one place
- Add metadata to help describe what each piece is about, who the target audience is, how it’s been used previously and how successful it’s been
- Inform and incentivate your employees to use it. In the beginning, people may need a nudge to get started.
- Give examples as to how each different department can use the content in a unique way and what benefits they will see from it. The “employed media” sales team strategy will probably look different than the “employed media” marketing team strategy.
- Listen to your employees’ feedback and measure your efforts. Discover and analyze your successes and failures. Gauge which departments or employees feel more comfortable pushing out content, which don’t. Adjust your strategy so “employed media” becomes a comfortable routine for everyone.
Bonus: As suggested by the Content Marketing Institute, consider automation and integration. Connect your content with your CRM system so that when an opportunity is created or goes south, the so the right content is recommended to a salesperson at the right time for each prospect
Storytelling Starts on the Inside
In order to effectively tell your brand’s story to customers, you need to make sure you have the right storytellers in place: the type of personalities who get excited about brands, and want to work in a culture where their co-workers are also excited. Coming into a company that has energy and a belief that the products it’s selling, is infectious.
Today, potential hires are investigating your external communications as much as your internal ones. It doesn’t take long to track down a few employees’ social media pages to help gauge what type of co-worker a potential hire could expect to work with, and how they feel about the company. User-generated content employment sites such as Glassdoor also make it easier for both disgruntled and satisfied employees to voice their experience working for your company out there anonymously for the world to see. Help control the conversation by providing valuable content internally and promoting brand evangelism externally. By shaping the conversion through your internal content marketing efforts you can attract and put the right storytellers in place, and they will best communicate your brand to potential clients.
The goal of internal content marketing are getting creative and engaging with employees in order to move the dial from satisfied employee to brand evangelist. Like all content marketing efforts, this takes strategy, time and consistent effort.