A B2B client approached us last week with a problem we’ve heard over and over again: “My marketing team has created a ton of great content. I know it would make a huge impact on LinkedIn, if only I could get my employees to share it.”
So many organizations are putting time and effort into creating content that will engage their customers and prospects, and it’s not just the standard marketing fluff. It’s real, helpful information based on the pain points they know their customers have. But, like the proverbial tree falling in the woods, if no one reads it, does it make a difference?
Nope, unfortunately, it doesn’t. That’s why employee advocacy comes in handy.
Digging Deeper into Your Content Marketing Potential
The problem is that as a marketer, you simply can’t reach everyone despite your best marketing efforts through owned, paid, and earned media. Increasingly, it’s essential to tap into your employees’ network, especially through channels like LinkedIn, to get a viral lift and more eyeballs on your work.
It’s harder to do than you think. It would be nice if you could just tell your employees, “Hey, share this” and the flood gates of engagement swing wide. What you’re really doing, though, is saying, “Hey, here’s another task for you to complete. Take time out of your busy day to fool around on social networks. And, no, we’re not paying you more.”
It’s not going to work. You have to completely change the way you pitch LinkedIn to your employees. It requires more effort to change their mindset and turn them into employee advocates that are LinkedIn content superstars.
The great thing about social media (especially LinkedIn) is that everyone gets equal opportunity to gain attention. But if you really want to get noticed, you have to create enough buzz around your brand on social. To do this, you need a large social media marketing team and huge investments in terms of money and time.
Or do you?
With employee advocacy and a strong content strategy, you can massively improve your visibility, reach, and influence all on a comparably reduced budget.
How to Create a LinkedIn Content Strategy for Your Employees
To build an effective employee advocacy program on social media, like LinkedIn, talk to employees about your content distribution program in terms of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. If you’re not familiar, the Golden Circle is the way effective leaders communicate and it’s pretty much the exact opposite of the way everyone else does – first why, then how, and finally what.
Start with WHY.
This is where you communicate vision and passion. It’s the time to inspire your audience – in this case, the workforce – that you want to buy in to your LinkedIn distribution strategy. When talking about the why with them, these tips will help:
- Align it with the brand. Your LinkedIn content distribution plan should feel like a natural extension of your company’s goals. The more aligned, the more employees will understand why they’re doing it. Let your passion come through. As Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you’re doing; they buy why you’re doing it.” Are you excited about the plan? Make them feel it.
- Include the C-suite. Your company’s leadership should empower and encourage employees to participate in an employee advocacy program. They can help to amplify internal voices, and even improve their own status as thought leaders.
- Don’t put it in an email. Emails are so easy to delete, forget about, or come back to later (which never happens). They can also seem impersonal when sent en masse, and that’s no way to generate excitement.
- Make it fun. If you want people to know just how important this program is, it requires a bit of fanfare. Spending a couple of bucks on a pizza lunch to introduce your employee advocacy program ensures that you’ll have their attention.
- Ask for feedback. Give employees some ownership. Ask what they think about the program, provide chances for them to give their feedback, and incorporate good suggestions on ways to improve.
Then talk about HOW.
The how portion of selling the content distribution plan to employees is where you talk about your differentiators. While it supports the “why,” it demonstrates how your plan and approach is unique in the marketplace. It also helps to remove any barriers to entry that employees might be feeling (aka adding something else to their to-do list). Incorporate this advice:
- Share the goal: What are you trying to do? Maybe you want to be seen as the go-to thought leader in your field or provide unparalleled customer response on LinkedIn. Spell that out in concrete terms for employees.
- Answer “What’s In In for Me”: It’s great if the company benefits, but how does the employee benefit individually from spending time on LinkedIn? They need to know how it’s going to make their job easier, help them reach more customers and prospects, or close more sales. It can also add to their professionalism.
- Do your research: Come armed with examples of how the content will be effective. If you already have a LinkedIn champion on staff, invite them to share their experiences with the rest of the company about how it helped them be more effective.
Finish with the WHAT.
The what is where you talk about the nitty-gritty details, the nuts and bolts of the plan. It’s what they’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis, the more task-oriented stuff that takes time and energy to complete. Again, to reiterate, don’t lead off the conversation with the what unless you want to doom your employee advocacy program to failure. Instead, do this:
- Create a playbook: For marketers, creating LinkedIn content might feel second nature. But not every employee has a marketing background. Develop a playbook that can set them up for immediate success, even if they’re not confident in their own abilities at first. Provide a few simple tips to get started. Slowly introduce more advanced tips along the way (a regular “Did you know?” tips email can be effective). You don’t have to share all of the details of the playbook upfront – just let the employees know it exists.
- Introduce the content: Show examples of what they’ll be sharing on social media. Walk them through your eBook, whitepaper, or infographic so they understand it and can answer customer questions after they share it.
- Provide examples and flexibility: Some people are intimidated by the thought of writing something, even a short blurb to accompany the content they’re sharing for you on LinkedIn. Provide them with 2 or 3 possible comments to include when they share it, and also let them know they’re free to make their own.
- Grant access to pre-made assets: Have your marketing team share assets they make for others to repurpose, such as images, graphics, infographics, press releases, or other assets.
- Ask them to follow your company on social: If employees balk at creating their own content, having them follow you on social gives them access to ready-made content they can re-share.
If done right, employee advocacy can help you reap great benefits on LinkedIn. It all depends on the strategy you build and the trust you have in your employees. Good employee advocacy programs are built on employees’ belief in the company and what it stands for, so it is crucial to have a good work culture. The key to making it work is to make all employees feel like their contribution is important to your company – and to themselves.
To learn more about how Meltwater empowers your content strategy, request a demo!