When it comes to generating traffic and leads, content is key. But it’s not just creating content that matters; it’s who creates and promotes it. Some organizations still struggle with the idea of putting employee personal brand ahead of company brand when it comes to publishing. Blogs might be posted with the brand name as the author. Worse, however, companies might be contributing content to people but not empowering those employees to advocate on the content’s behalf. How much does this affect content performance? A lot.
Take for example a client we’ve worked with for years. This decades-old brand gets plenty of traffic to its site based on name recognition alone. However, that big brand wasn’t able to do the things a single employee of just a few years could do in creating and promoting content.
The employee in question is primarily responsible for business development at local retailers, doing in-store demos. His role as a blogger and social media specialist is a minor part of his job. However, his expertise in his field over the years has created a significant online following.
He was already blogging, Tweeting and posting to Google Plus and Facebook about the subject on his own, without promoting his company. When he was encouraged to do so as a company advocate, well, I’ll let the results speak for themselves.
Looking at a year’s worth of traffic, the impact of the employee was significant. His posts garnered an average of 1,000 more views than the company branded posts. One even went viral. Moreover, his post didn’t just generate traffic—they also generated leads: 1,700 so far in 2014.
The vast majority of the traffic came in from social networks, too. The chart below shows the impact the employee had on overall site social referrals:
As you can see, there’s a dip mid-year. That’s when, after a little internal debating, it was requested that he stop posting for a while. Organizationally, this was all new and they needed to work out just how to handle putting an employee’s personal brand first. When he was positioned as a regular contributor under his name once again in September, the social traffic jumped and continues to increase still today.
The case above is just one example of how important it is to all employees to build a personal brand online. But like most organizations, there was a learning curve involved in letting the employee advocate publicly on the company’s behalf.
One of the biggest hindrances to employees as brand advocates is either a restrictive social media policy or not having one at all. Good corporate social media policies encourage engagement and self expression, while providing common sense advice that could steer employees away from potential trouble. If you commit to letting your employees build their brands and put a framework for success in place, advocates can rise.
The hardest part may be finding advocates, though. Often times, the marketing department can stifle its own efforts by being too brand focused and not people focused. Look for advocates where you least expect them. Support teams, project managers, engineers. Marketing’s job in content and social isn’t to be the sole producers and distributors; it’s finding the people who can do that work for you—usually better than you can. Think of yourself as a coach rather than a manager, helping advocates cultivate their personal brand for the benefit of everyone.
As advocates become content creators and promoters, it’s important to clarify creating content and promoting it is part of the job. Day to day obligations can be the main downfall of personal branding efforts. Regular communication about personal branding and content creation is the key. That way if you start to hear the “too busy” comment, you can work with others in the organization to give the advocates a clear path forward for success.
As in the case above, it’s important to showcase an employee’s contributions to the company’s inbound marketing efforts. When presenting to company leadership, make sure to have at least one slide in your presentation or monthly report that highlights an employee’s efforts.
A healthy organizational commitment to employees’ personal brands is a big win for any content marketing and social media strategy. After all, social and content are people-powered, and brands are not people. If you let your employees be loud and proud, that people power can be the fuel you need to supercharge your efforts.
photo credit: sekushy