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April 22, 2015
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Internal Content Marketing: How to Use Content to Build Employee Engagement

startup-594091_1280When we hear the term Content Marketing, we usually associate it with B-to-B (business-to-business) or B-to-C (business-to-consumer) communications.

But quality content that’s created and shared from a genuine place of passion and a desire to help others can also sound a powerful rallying cry within companies.

And I believe that the principles and techniques of content marketing can be used to extraordinary effect within companies in order to improve communications, boost morale, and support recruiting efforts. Here are a few thoughts on how you can make it work.

CONTENT MARKETING BASICS

The fundamentals of content marketing, in my mind,  include the following:

  • identifying ultimate business goals
  • sketching out detailed personas for the target audience
  • identifying key messages to deliver within specific contexts
  • creating a multi-channel platform for delivering messages
  • creating a very targeted way of measuring and reporting on progress.

These are all concepts that apply as much to internal communications as to external marketing.

CREATING BRAND AMBASSADORS

Passionate and inspired employees become brand ambassadors. They embody the persona, values and ethics of your company. These employees are the ones who are interacting with your customers and the general public on a regular basis in person and online, while both on and off the clock. So, by harnessing an authentic passion in them for their work, they will best be able to communicate about your brand and what it can do for a consumer. These happy employees are the key to having a successful and productive business, and hopefully a profitable one, too.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media has become a personal branding juggernaut. Brands are expected to have a consistent presence online to represent and communicate their persona and values, and to interact regularly with clients and prospective clients.

Beyond the official social media accounts for a brand, employees are increasingly being encouraged to advocate for the company by sharing content and posting on their own personal accounts. For this to be truly effective however, it must go beyond regurgitating copy and retweeting generic postings — customers are looking for enthusiastic testimonials and authentic connections with a brand.

Similarly to how a first visit to a brick and mortar store can forever shape a clients opinion of a company, social media postings are often one of the first places prospective clients look online to research the places they wish to support.

Beyond having your employees posting original content and interacting with the brand on a personal level, also see social media as an opportunity to recognize them for their hard work. By acknowledging their successes publicly by mentioning them in an update, you will foster goodwill within the company while also showing your audience that you care about those who contribute to your organization.

ON THE FRONT LINES

Given that your employees are on the front lines, interacting with customers, it becomes absolutely necessary to give them the tools they need to successfully communicate your brand. This includes training, communication and inspiration that they will then share with your audience.

Similarly to how you wish to encourage open dialogue with customers, ask your employees for feedback as well. Show them that their opinion is valued, and give them the opportunity to take initiatives within the company. A fresh set of eyes is always a welcome thing, as they can invoke the perceptions your customers will have.

For companies like grocery retail giant Whole Foods and apparel company Lululemon, they sell a lifestyle not only to their customers, but to their employees as well. By elevating an experience to feel unique and relevant to both their customers and employees, they create a harmonious relationship between the two. Their employees are walking and talking testimonials of the lifestyle they are selling, so these brands know what makes them unique and timely, and foster enthusiasm by communicating their goals and connecting with the wants and needs of their tribe

INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

Communicating with employees is necessary to exploring their own individual personas and ambitions, as well as how they can uniquely benefit your overall brand. If you are bringing new things to the table in a passionate and quirky way, you want to employ those who demonstrate the same attributes. So, how can you fine-tune your message so these employees not only listen, but genuinely care, and engage?

In content marketing we use something called “contextual messaging.” Externally, we use customer journeys to tell the story of a brand — but internally it’s not always significantly different. As an employer, think about what employees need to know when they first join the company. Further, what they need to know once they’re entrenched and seeking to progress, or what they need to know (or share) when they’re ready to retire.

David Plouffe, political strategist and Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, used to say “be in all places.” So, use multiple channels to connect with your employees. In person meetings, of course, how else can you harness the power of the digital world to create engagement? Think virtual town hall forums, newsletters, social channels at conferences, and online surveys. Is there a way that you can speak to people using the platforms they are already connected with?

Continually revisit and reevaluate the goals you have set. Consider what is and isn’t working, and what changes you can posit to help encourage those changes to happen. By creating an engaged workforce and encouraging open communication and collaboration with your staff it will lead to success not only on a personal level for employees, but on a company wide level as well.

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