A while back, I discussed a good bit about something I still feel is content marketing’s most potential powerful and useful tool—Insourcing—or the process of using a large portion of employees within a company to generate great content, and lots of it.
Since that time, I’ve had some pretty exceptional experiences with companies/clients while implementing this culture of insourcing–watching them go through the journey of giving their team and staff the “what,” “how,” and “why” of content marketing–something that is essential for ultimate success.
During this period of work and constant reflection, I’ve come to a much clearer realization as to why some companies are so very good at leveraging their employees, while others struggle mightily and ultimately fizzle out.
The 3 Laws of Successful Insourcing for Content Marketing
To make a potentially long explanation very short, there are essentially 3 Laws of Insourcing I’ve observed, which are as follows:
1. Content marketing excellence will not occur (to achieve huge results) if management and ownership are not “all in.”
2. Content marketing excellence will not occur if there is not a catalyst employee (ex. Chief Content Officer/CCO) in charge of organizing and maintaining the culture.
3. Content marketing excellence will not occur if employees are not allowed to produce the content in THEIR preferred method/style.
Although I could write a few thousand words to explain numbers 1 and 2 with this post, today I’m only going to focus on number 3, which is so often overlooked by companies attempting to involve their employees in the content marketing process.
So in this post, I want to take a brief look at the 4 types of company content marketers and how to leverage each of their skills.
The 4 Ways to Generate Content from Employees
1. The Writers: Here is the traditional way most companies up to this point have used their employees to create articles, blog posts, etc. Generally, if done the right way, they’re given a topic to write on with a corresponding deadline, after which the articles flows back to the content editor (or CCO) to be cleaned up and posted. Although this method of deriving content from employees is still very powerful in my opinion, it’s extremely rare that all employees will be willing to embrace it. Furthermore, some might be very poor writers, which also makes the CCO’s job, much, much harder when attempting to “clean up” poor written and formatted content.
2. The Actors (AKA: “The Sales Guys”): Most companies have a sales staff, many of which are your typical extrovert that go 1000 miles an hour, jumping from one activity to the next, but certainly not ones to sit down for 45 minutes to write a blog post. (Granted, I’m generalizing here, but you hopefully get my point.)
In order to draw the great knowledge (content) from these types of employees, video-based interviews are often times the best solution. I’ve done this many times with clients and the results can be magical. To do them effectively though, generally it’s most ideal to have two people on camera—one person asking the questions (just as a customer/consumer would) and the other person answering the question in a relaxed and personal way (see video below). Doing it this way versus sticking a person in front of a camera and telling them to “go” is often times way more successful in generating great content.
Also, this method is extremely effective when the words (audio) in the video are transcribed and turned into text for a blog article, making the finished piece of content perfect for the reader that would rather learn visually or textually—therefore able to consume in their preferred style.
Keep in mind, video based content (be it demos, interviews, etc.) isn’t just for the fast talking sales people on staff, but anyone that is willing and able to clearly communicate on camera. To give you a great example of an interview-style video that was turned into a text/video based blog post, watch the following short segment, taken with one of my current clients, The Hybrid Shop.
4. The “Questioners”: As many companies have found, some employees aren’t good writers, they’re not good on camera, and they don’t make a good fit for interviews either. This being said, just because they don’t have these communication skills doesn’t mean they can’t help with the process of brainstorming the types of content the company should be producing—basing said content on the types of questions consumers ask and seek out every day.
As I mentioned before, in every company there are employees that crossover and have multiple communication strengths, but the key to any of this is that management is willing to be flexible with the way they generate their content, and go beyond simply thinking about everything in terms of just writing articles.
Yes, this process of learning the communication styles of the employees does take some time, but once it’s discovered and a system is put into place, the results can be magical, and the amount of great content that can be produced is often profound.
I’m curious, which (if not all) of these communications styles have you used in your company to generate content from employees? What has been the most successful? What have been your challenges? I’d love to hear your thoughts.