In a digital world where Content is considered to be king, you need to build up an army to ensure your kingdom’s safety and well-being. If your kingdom is your company blog, then how could you mobilize a heroic army when labor (copywriters, creatives, editors, columnists) and finances (your content creation budget) are always considered limited resources?
It is simple, trust your in-house team! Turn your employees into an army of content creators!
They may not all be well-versed writers, or masters at formulating the most engaging blog post topics, but they all have interesting experience to share with you and could really boost your creative idea-generation process.
Many think that manual keyword research, usage of mind-mapping and key phrase suggestion tools and verifying search volume and keyword CPC on Google Planner’s Tool are the only ingredients required to come up with the next potential traffic-surging blog post idea.
However, there is more to it: you could actually build up your content strategy by taking into account what your actual clients are interested in, what they find confusing, important or difficult to handle. There is no tool that could show you that, you have to rely on the good old human interaction and ask your employees about their current and past experience with your client base.
Here is an efficient seven-step strategy that will help you turn your employees into an army of content creators:
1. Use Your Employees’ Experience
Empower the members of your team, who are responsible for the everyday communication with your clients (customer support, account managers, sales reps). They could provide you with valuable ideas for your site’s FAQ section or even Case Studies materials and whitepapers.
Don’t let their knowledge and insightful observations over your customers’ problems and interests go to waste. A question that often arises in customer-support conversations deserves a blog post or a dedicated FAQ section. A series of frequently-asked questions on a specific topic, on the other hand, might serve as a basis for compiling an engaging eBook.
2. Don’t Discriminate Against The Employees You Welcome To Contribute
You should rely on your front-end employees for keeping in touch with your clients’ info inquiries, interests and demands, however, this does not mean that you should ignore the remaining members of your team.
Remember that every employee has valuable observations of your company processes, so everyone could chime in with an idea or two. What is more, colleagues talk to each other, they discuss clients, projects, service obstacles, support dilemmas. What one has forgotten, his colleague could remember and share.
Don’t underestimate the feedback of your employees, I could assure you that every one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your sole task is to select the most valuable stories among them, adapt them to your target audience and translate them into your clients’ language.
3. Motivate Your Employees To Contribute
Even if you think that you’ve come up with a fascinating project, many won’t share your enthusiasm. At least not at first. Some of your employees will shy away from the opportunity to share their thoughts because they won’t feel comfortable being the first ones to take on the initiative. Others will conclude that this will only add to their workload and will try to dodge your invitation.
Here is how you could handle with the initial opposition:
- Turn this into a competition - make your employees prove their knowledge and creativity and compete with each other when suggesting content ideas.
- Offer them a reward – of course, all winners deserve a reward – a treat that will justify their efforts. In such cases the material compensation is often not enough you have to think about a more intangible gratification for your employees’ input.
- Offer them recognition – appeal to your employees’ ego. Regardless of our personality we all strive for our 15 minutes of fame. How can you use this to your advantage: promise to publish the final content piece under the name of the employee who gave the original idea. Say you’d add to the post a nice photo of that employee, and that you’d write him/her a suitable author box. A genuine promise to turn him/her into a ‘real’ writer will undoubtedly bring you high dividends.
4. Make It Easy For Your Employees To Share Their Ideas
The easier the idea submission process, the more conversion you’d see. Try to foresee the obvious turn-offs like for instance having to sign up to a new platform, going over through an exhaustive preliminary questionnaire and so on. Here are some fine guidelines you could keep in mind:
- The platform – using a friendly and straightforward tool like Google forms to gather your employees’ ideas will ease both ends. You can always go with the good-old suggestion box, though, if you think that would be more suitable for your company culture.
- Anonymity at submission – offer equal start for all of your employees, allow the more modest and timid ones to keep their anonymity at submission and reveal it only if their idea gets approved. This way they will be able to avoid the shame and the rejection and will be more willing to take part in the project.
- Flexible time for submission – setting a deadline for the idea submission process could be a deal-breaker. You cannot ask of your employees to be creative on a schedule, at least not of all your employees (the marketing staff, of courses is exempt of this disclaimer:)
- Ask for their feedback only on topics they are really familiar with – it is a good idea to filter your content requests wisely and ask for feedback on topics that are related to one’s expertise and knowledge. For instance, it would be pointless to approach the web dev team and ask them for ideas on a Link Building post.
- Do not insist on too much involvement – gather ideas, do not insist on the actual development of that ideas. Not all of your employees are writers and they know it pretty well. If you ask them to draft an outline or the whole post by themselves the chances are that you won’t get any feedback at all.
5. Let Them See How Their Contribution Builds Up To The ‘Greater Good’
Go one step further when offering the intrinsic reward: show your employees the big picture behind their contribution:
- The public response – let them know how the public receives the piece (show them on- and off-site comments and discussions on the post), how viral it has become (show them the public shares, likes and upvotes), and how many bloggers have picked up on the story and have commented on it in blog posts of their own.
- Promotion (paid and social) – show them that you really believe in their idea and that you are investing in popularizing it online. This act of transparency would serve as a fine incentive to repeat the contribution effort.
- The brand building aspect – if your employee is aware of how his idea actually helps the company build its brand online, he would be immensely proud of his work and grateful of your and his/her team’s recognition and admirations.
6. Regularly Remind Them To Contribute
Turn the in-house idea-generation process into a practice. Don’t let your employees forget about this opportunity, but remind them on a regular basis about the importance and worth of their input.
How you could do that:
- Add the invitation to your company’s internal newsletter;
- Post an announcement once or twice per month in the company chat;
- Add a live link to an intake form in a visible place in your project management and collaboration platform;
- Make monthly announcements about a success story of content created thanks to an employee’s suggestion.
7. Show Feedback On The Ideas That You’ve Rejected
Don’t let your employees feel frustrated and wonder why their colleagues’ ideas are always published but their own fall to oblivion. Let them know there are no favorites, just clear criteria about what works’ and what’s not suitable for your target audience/marketing strategy/blog concept.
If you accept a content suggestion – communicate its benefits; if you reject an idea – again, explain what are its drawbacks. Guide your employees and they’ll learn how to provide you with content topics worth drafting.
Empower your employees, make them feel appreciated, involved and central figures in your company’s gameplan to success.
What you’ll get in return will most often consist of improved morale, loyalty, motivation and will strengthen the bonds within your team, which is definitively much more than simply polishing your content strategy.
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