Generating content for your business is one of the toughest parts of online marketing and business blogging.
Writing high quality content your readers will find valuable is can be incredibly time consuming, especially if you don’t have a content calendar or plan for accomplishing your writing goals. Leveraging your staff and empowering your employees is perhaps one of the best and most effective ways to generate content your future and current customers care about.
Your staff is a wonderful place to start. They have relevant knowledge and experience because they likely engage with the customer every day. Use them to create valuable content!
Just how can you empower your employees to blog for your business? Well, we’ve listed 15 ways you can both empower your employees:
- Change the Culture
- Create Policies and Procedures
- Create Friendly Competition
- Give Them Bribes
- Use the Stick
- Give Recognition
- Appeal to Self Interest – The Personal Brand
- Inspire Them
- Create Templates
- Provide a List of Blogs to Follow
- Empower via LinkedIn
- Engage on Facebook and Twitter
- Use Community Sites
- Use Blog Commenting
- Show Employees Their Results
1. Change the Culture
Doing something that you’re organization has never done will usually be met with some resistance. Change is not something most people are receptive to which is why there is need for organization change when it comes to increasing participation in your business blog. This starts from the top and moves down throughout the organization. You must get buy-in from all the people to be impacted and that alone can be a challenge.
Everyone must show their commitment and it must be supported by the organization. As a leader, you can’t just pay lip service to your new business blogging philosophy. You must follow through with your actions and with resources, when needed.
Take Action: Make business blogging a priority by changing the organizational culture to emphasis employee content creation.
2. Create Policies and Procedures
This is perhaps the most crucial aspect of business blogging. You need to lay out, in writing, what employees can write about, how they should write about it, and what they should avoid. Specific rules for engaging in external communications are a necessity so employees know what behavior is tolerable online. This also protects them from being punished for doing something that they may have been unaware of. Clear expectations are crucial.
Take Action: Create a written set of policies and procedures governing business blogging and online activity.
3. Create Friendly Competition
Making an internal competition out of business blogging is a great way to spur action from your employees. Depending on the size of your organization and how many people can actually spend time blogging, you can create a number of rewardable goals.
The key to creating goals is to know what you want to achieve. If you are just starting out, it may be best to reward behavior for accomplishments like the longest blog post and the most number of blog posts. This will lay the foundation of content and get everyone comfortable with the blogging process. After his time, you can create goals that are based on the quality of the post – for example: most read article, most shared article, most leads generated from an article, etc.
Take Action: Leverage the natural tendency of your employees to be competitive – just keep it friendly.
4. Give Them Bribes
Give them incentives! Aligned with the goals you have for blogging, you can create an incentive plan that rewards the employees with gifts or money. If it is a policy that everyone is required to write at least one blog post per month, give an incentive for the longest post. You can even give bonuses to people that write more than one. The idea is to create behavior you want and reinforce it with some kind of reward. Just make sure the reward is something that the employees will value, otherwise it won’t have the impact you want.
Take Action: Give incentives to your employees to help blog for the business.
5. Use the Stick (when necessary)
It would be nice if all we needed are carrots but sometimes people respond better when they know they stand to lose something. You business blog is linked to your ability to generate new customers and revenue. Regular content is the heartbeat of a website, giving it life in both the eyes of Google and the people who read it. If your employees are not responding to the requirement or to the carrots you’ve laid out thus far, it’s time to bring out a stick. Help them understand that creating content that helps drive business is everyone’s goal and those that are not on board will likely need to find employment elsewhere.
Take Action: If people aren’t following through, you may need to bring out the stick to make sure organizational priorities are carried out.
6. Give Recognition
Not all rewards need to be monetary. Recognition is oftentimes as good a motivator, or better, depending on the person. If you have regular meetings, recognize someone who did something well. When a blog post goes above expectations or does particularly well bringing in new clients, make sure the person who wrote it is recognized. You can even create a “Blogger of the Month” wall to recognize the outstanding blogging achievements of your employees. This gives them both recognition internally and to any clients/customers.
Take Action: Make sure good work is recognized publicly.
7. Appeal to Self Interest – The Personal Brand
Business blogging is a great way for your employees to establish personal brands. If your employees are the type where it is beneficial to be recognizable, help them see that establishing themselves online will help create new clients. Studies show that when we see someone often enough, we feel more familiar with them even though we may never have met. Additionally, we can increase the amount of authority our employees build with the use of social proof. When potential clients see that someone they may work with has articles that are highly shared and commented on, we feel they are better at what they do.
Take Action: Encourage your employees to build their personal brands to aid the company’s brand.
8. Inspire Them (they are teachers and guides)
One additional way to motivate and empower your employees is to appeal to a higher principle: they aren’t just writing for profit and personal gain, they are teachers and guides helping those that don’t know find answers. This underlying theme will manifest itself it several ways: 1) your business bloggers will write from a different perspective more useful to potential clients, 2) they are more likely to help each other (rather than sabotage each other for personal gain), and 3) it makes content generation easier.
Take Action: Inspire your employees by appealing to their higher values.
9. Create Templates
To help your employees blog, provide templates and outlines that your employees can use to blog around. Eventually they will get more comfortable and not need templates and outlines but initially, make it as easy as possible. These outlines don’t need to be point by point but simply show the structure you want them to take with expectations as to length and readability. For list posts, write what you expect in each section. For example:
For the Post
Introduction (3-4 sentences):
Item 1 explanation:
Conclusion/Main Takeaway (2-3 sentences):
Call to Action: 1-2 sentences
Take Action: Create several blog templates for your employees to use as outlines when generating content.
10. Provide Lists of Blogs to Follow
When you start blogging, sometimes you have to repeatedly ask yourself the question: “what should I write about?” This happens less as you gain experience and ideas flow naturally. Early on, you need inspiration. This can come in the form of industry leading publications, blogs, or competitors blogs. Providing your employees a list of the top blogs in your arena will help them see the style of content generated in their niche and help them generate blog post ideas. Likewise, keeping tabs on your competitors will help you rise to their level (if you’re behind) or stay one step ahead.
Take Action: Provide a list of good blogs to follow for inspiration when business blogging.
11. Empower via LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a powerful B2B networking platform that allows you to connect with your customers and peers. Encouraging the use of LinkedIn (both as a networking tool and publishing platform) will help your content find the right people, build your company’s reputation, and establishes you as an authority in your niche.
Interacting in groups is an additional way that your employees can make the most of their time business blogging. Building LinkedIn profiles also helps with helping your employees build their personal brand (identified in #7).
Take Action: Encourage the use of LinkedIn for business blogging and networking.
12. Engage on Facebook and Twitter
Facebook and Twitter cannot be left out of the discussion when it comes to building authority or promoting content. Although typically limited to fewer words, it is still possible to share valuable insights, company news, and other relevant industry content.
Take Action: Use Facebook and Twitter to share value able insights.
13. Use Community Sites
Empower your employees to engage on community and question-answer sites to improve the effectiveness and reach of your business blog. Sites like Quora, Stack Overflow, Yahoo Answers, and Avvo allow people to ask questions and get answers back from knowledgeable experts. Your employees can be these knowledgeable experts. Encourage them to get on there and answer questions that people have. Linking to relevant content on your blog will help the person find answers your company provides.
Take Action: Use community and question-answer sites to improve business blogging reach and effectiveness.
14. Use Blog Commenting
Blog commenting is a very underutilized strategy for engaging with prospective clients. Your future and current clients are looking for answers. They could visit many blogs and community sites looking for answers and often the greatest insights are found in the comments.
Highly trafficked articles usually have a lot engagement in the comments. Use it to your advantage and share your knowledge. When you have a post that answers a question brought up in the comments, share it. This will help make the most of your comments and drive traffic to your website.
Take Action: Use comments on other blogs to show authority and drive traffic.
15. Show Employees Their Results
When you’re asked to do something considered “significant” in the eyes of the business, you’d like to know your activity is translating into desired results, right? Of course! It’s important to regularly update your employees engaging in business blogging and show them the progress. How many leads were generated? How much revenue was generated from the blog? What content is performing best? It isn’t enough to simply say “good job.” People want to be part of something greater than themselves and work towards an organizational mission. Sharing the impact their activities are having on that mission will help them stay motivated to contribute.
Take Action: Regularly update your employees on the impact their actions are having on the business.
If you’ve tried and failed at implementing any of these strategies – don’t just abandon your blog. It is an incredibly powerful lead generation tool for your business and that last thing you want to do is leave it empty and unattended. Outsourcing your inbound marketing to a qualified agency may be the answer. They can take over and create a complete system for content generation, promotion, lead capture and nurturing.