Your Employees aren’t Stupid, Let them Write

by Marcus Sheridan

Of course your employees don’t get social media and content marketing. Why should they? All you did was ask them to “like” your Facebook page and start writing blog posts without any real rhyme or reason other than, “Trust me, this will really help our business!”

I’ve seen it enough at this point, and it has got to stop. There is a better way.

Management and marketing departments are failing to succeed with social media and content marketing because they don’t take the time to teach their staff what this stuff is all about, how it works, and how it can not only help the business, but also change the lives of those that work therein.

Houston, We Have a Problem

About a year ago, as I began consulting with more and more businesses about proper content marketing principles, I noticed one common theme again and again and again with every company I dealt with:

Not everyone was on board the content marketing train.

In other words, not everyone was embracing this new way of thinking and doing business.

From what I gathered, there were two main reasons for this problem:

  1. Employee/management ignorance (lack of understanding)
  2. An unwillingness of management to delegate and believe in their staff (quite prolific with most companies)

And because there always seemed to be a lack of a team effort, especially between the “sales” and “marketing” departments, full potential was never reached with blogging, social media, etc.

Finally, after seeing what I thought was a flawed system, I stopped doing as much 1-on-1 consulting and shifted my efforts on what I feel is the most important step a company can make to take the leap into this digital age of social media and content marketing—the In-House Social Media Summit.

Building a Foundation

I first mentioned this phrase in my recent guest post at Social Media Examiner, but the gist of this meeting is as follows:

As many employees as possible–especially anyone in customer service, sales, and marketing—meet together to receive training to answer the following questions (to name a few):

  1. What is content and inbound marketing?
  2. What is a blog and how does it work?
  3. How does Google work and what makes some websites show up and others not?
  4. What makes for great content that not only makes Google (the search engines) happy but also real, live people?
  5. How can a single blog article be used to increase sales, profits, and revenues?
  6. How can content be used as a sales tool again and again and again?
  7. What can each employee do to help build the blog, the website, and its online social media presence?
  8. What is the general social media policy of the company?

These are just 8 of many questions that should be answered in a company’s social media summit, but be rest assured that when they are properly addressed, employee light bulbs start to come on and some serious magic can then occur, especially within sales and marketing departments.

Can “Old Dogs” Learn New Tricks?

I mention this subject today because earlier this week I was in Chicago giving a 2-day social media summit to US Waterproofing, Chicago’s premier basement waterproofing company.

Because the VP of the company was struggling to get his “old-school sales guys” to buy into this whole blogging/social media thing, I was called on to give a summit that would help “turn on the light bulbs” and inject a vision and understanding to the group as a whole.

To make a long story short, after hours of interactive discussion and activity, the results were profound. The 25 sales guys, almost all of which had been completely unclear as to the whole purpose of content marketing the day before, were now all discussing ways each could blog, add content to the website, and also implement this content into their pre and post sales strategies.

Even better, the large majority of this group (about 99%) were classic “non-techies”, blue-collar types that knew very little about social media and computers in the first place. Notwithstanding, each had now decided to overcome these “deficiencies” because they understood the difference it could make in their professional lives as well as the overall success of the company.

Elitist Attitudes Stink

I don’t mention these things to brag, but rather to make a very important point:

It’s practically impossible to get an entire company to buy into social media unless we take some serious time teaching them about this important subject.

And no, and company-wide email simply is NOT going to do the trick.

Furthermore, I’m frankly done with hearing “experts” tell me how only a “special” group of employees in any organization can assist in its social media efforts, especially in terms of content marketing.

Again, this is utter horse-dung.

Let’s take this sales staff that I was working with as an example. Most of these guys had been with the company for more than 5 years, some of them over 25 years. How many questions from customers do you think each had received over that time period?

In fact, I asked the group this very question and the answer was simple: Thousands

Teachers

These good men had spent a significant portion of their life explaining basement waterproofing in a way that a homeowner could understand it, thus making each a quintessential “teacher” in their industry.

And as I’ve mentioned time and time again, the best content marketers are the ones that know how to teach complex subjects in a way that anyone can understand them.

So what if these guys aren’t Victor Hugo?? So what if some aren’t college educated?? So what if they’ve never been “trained” in the field of writing??

They’re all communicators, each and every one of them.

Does this mean they’ll all now become prolific bloggers? No, clearly not.

  • Some will now be “idea think-tanks” and assist in coming up with blog article ideas for the future.
  • Some will be prolific with video, as they’re more comfortable talking rather than writing.
  • And some will find the writer within and make the company blog the premier teaching resource for their industry.

This is how the power of “team” can work in any organization when it comes to social media and internet marketing. This is also why we’ve got to stop convincing ourselves that blogging is only for the “intellectually elite.” which is a stupid phrase in and of itself.

If we’re but willing to take the time and effort to get all employees on the same starting page, and give them a foundation of knowledge and understanding—the difference will be astonishing.

In fact, this principle applies to company management as well.

Buy-In is a Must

We MUST get buy-in folks. Sometime it starts from the top and goes down. Sometimes it starts from the bottom and goes up.

Either way, we must have it to reach our potential on the web. We must have it to become the voice and leading brand of our industry.

No matter the niche, no matter the profession, and no matter the employee pool—I’m here to say this is possible when it comes to content and inbound marketing. I’ve now seen it occur too many times over these last 6 months to doubt the possibilities of any organization.

Yours is not the exception.

Nor are your employees.

So believe in them.

Then teach them.

And finally, allow their voice to be heard.

Your Turn:

I’d really be curious to hear your take on this. Am I naïve to say that most employees in an organization can help with the content marketing and social media efforts if they’re but trained and taught the right way? Or do you think that this “team” concept is unrealistic and unachievable for the majority of organizations?

Jump in folks, I know many of you have been dealing with this subject for some time now.

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