[Episode Thirty-One of ‘The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast] 🎧☝️
How To Use Employee Advocacy for Content Idea Generation
Organizations all over the world in every sector are driving strategic competitive advantage by scaling the impact of their employees’ voices… and now YOU can too! As we delve beyond the why and get straight to the how so that you can put employee-driven growth at the heart of your organization.
Welcome to the new and improved version of The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast. In this new format, CEO Bradley Keenan is joined by DSMN8’s very own Lewis Gray (Senior Marketing Manager) as a co-host.
In this episode of the podcast, Bradley and Lewis discuss how to use employee advocacy for content idea generation. They highlight the importance of employees being active on social, and why social activity and employee advocacy should be treated as one combined activity.
BK: Welcome to the Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast. My name is Bradley Keenan, and I’m the founder and CEO of DSMN8. And with me I have Lewis, who is our senior marketing manager.
LG: Cheers, Brad. Yeah, so what we’re going to be talking about today, we’re going to be talking about how employee advocacy helps you identify what content is resonating with your audiences. And we’ll also talk about how you can use your employee advocacy platform as a little source of idea generation.
So let’s get into it. Right, and we’re back. Bradley, how are you? How have you been? How’s life?
BK: I’m very good. Been very busy with job interviews. I think I’ve done about 30 in the last five days. So it’s been, it’s good fun.
BK: I think I’m actually today years old, where I’ve now worked out how to actually interview people. It’s the first time I’ve ever done structured job interviews, and actually, it’s been kind of cool because it’s made me think about our employer brand, how we work and trying to do it in the, I guess, the right way. And actually, it’s paid off, so I’m happy.
LG: Oh nice, nice. Are we gonna have any new members of the team soon?
BK: I think we are, yeah. I think we’re gonna have four or five so.
BK: That should be fun, yeah.
LG: Definitely. Cool.
BK: More people to disseminate our great content that the marketing team produce.
LG: Yeah, appreciate that.
BK: That’s the only reason why I hire people now is, just to add more people into our employee advocacy program. So as long as you’ve got a LinkedIn account, apply. So it’s all you need is a LinkedIn account. That’s it.
LG: Yeah, perfect.
BK: And a willingness to participate.
Why Should You Care?
LG: Nice, ok. So on the topic of employee advocacy. Well, I guess first and foremost, before we crack on with this topic, it’s probably worth just identifying why you should care about what it is that we’re about to get into now.
If you’re a marketer, you probably don’t need to be told why you should care about having a new channel for idea inspiration and to analyze content performance but, I think the reality is it’s not just marketers that are creating content nowadays.
You’d agree with that, Brad? Yeah, it’s like if you’re a salesperson, you might be a salesperson creating content, you’ll know that creating content isn’t easy.
It’s, you know, consistently creating content, but then creating content that’s original and that you think will resonate.
I think it’s becoming only more difficult because of the demands of social media, you know, search engine results, pages, whatever it is.
The market’s so saturated already with content, so consistently coming up with original content just seems to get more and more difficult.
Factor that in with algorithm changes, which Brad is probably here sick of hearing me talk about at this point. But factor in the algorithm changes as well.
And suddenly, it’s just like. It’s a whole different beast.
It’s once you finally think you’ve got to grips with your content output and your content creation you get in a nice flow state.
Let’s use the LinkedIn one as an example. You’re creating all text posts because you think the algorithm loves those.
Six months later, it’s like, no, the algorithm wants carousels, and you’ve got to kind of reinvent the wheel and start from scratch.
So I’d say for marketers, especially at the moment, one of the biggest challenges you’re going to face is writer’s block, but let’s just call it creator’s block.
You know, it’s creativity in general just coming up with content, but yeah, I think the reason why you should care about what we’re about to be talking about is because it’s just going to make that job a little bit easier for you.
BK: Yeah, absolutely. And I think the issue is actually, from my perspective, is that people becoming marketeers in their own right.
So the idea of a personal brand being that I’m somebody who’s producing content, and maybe I’m not doing that in partnership with the company that I’m working for, is you don’t have to look very hard to find examples of where a single individual is outputting more marketing content than a marketing team.
It’s not even, not just producing more. It is getting considerably better results from it.
So that’s kind of, in a way threatening to a marketing team because you’ve got these big budgets, you’re producing all this content, yet there’s this one rogue person who works in your engineering team is producing this content and is going gangbusters with results.
So I think actually marketing see it more like they want to produce content more like where people produce content, which is why people talk about authenticity all the time.
It’s authentic because it is real versus I’m producing something to make it seem authentic, which is actually the opposite of authentic, right?
So I definitely see people getting that kind of threat by people, but actually, it’s difficult for marketing people to produce content because they’ve got more red tape to go through than a person.
LG: Yeah, I’d agree. I think there’s, I mean, we have it within DSMN8. I’ve, you know, given shoutouts to the sales team on a number of occasions.
It’s other people doing it as well, but… Do you know what, I’ll name him, it’s Dan, one of the sales guys here who is just constantly creating really decent content on LinkedIn, it’s social content, but he’s just constantly putting in really great stuff.
And I’m taking inspiration from that as well. So you’re right. It’s not just marketing teams that are creating this content.
I think something to bear in mind with what we’re about to talk about is this isn’t an alternative to doing market research, putting your buyer personas together.
You know, if you’ve put your buyer personas together, you’re gonna know what kind of content your audience wants, what their problem pain points are and that kind of thing.
This isn’t an alternative to that. This is really just to give you some quick wins. I would say to make some informed decisions on some social posts when you kind of have that creative block.
BK: Do you think, though, that there’s a chronological order in which, ok, I guess there is a chronological order in which employee advocacy existed or the idea of, let’s just call it amplification via employees just for this conversation.
So that came after brands producing content, right? So originally, brands producing content, social media come out, people went on social media, then companies went on social media, and then it was a company posting content on social media blog posts or whatever.
So the chronological order goes: company produces content, then they add on the amplification model of their employees. So the employee is the second part of that content factory.
But actually, why is it not, like you just said, why is it not the exact opposite of that? Why is it, not social media started within people?
So why is it not that we post the content first? On our employee advocacy platform or even, you know, if we don’t have a platform via our employees and we test there because the brand channel is more finite.
You can’t post 20 times a day on a brand channel, generally speaking.
Maybe on Twitter, you can.
On LinkedIn, you’re probably not going to do it unless you’re a research company like Ipsos, Cantar or whoever.
So, for me, it makes more sense to test with your employees, find out what the market cares about and the insights, take those insights and produce more polished brand content and share it when you know people actually care about that topic.
But it’s actually most people just do it the opposite way around.
LG: Yeah, such an interesting take. It’s like working backwards, isn’t it?
But your employees kind of give you an outlet to test how to test whether your content is going to resonate with your, you know, with your audiences.
And you have to assume that your employees are going to be connected to people who are within your, you know, target audiences. It won’t be all of them. There’ll be a pretty huge bulk of them.
Um, but something else I wanted to touch on is the, with, with the current demands of social media and, you know, uh, the demand for, for content.
You run into this issue of putting out just totally uninformed content. And by uninformed, I mean you have no reason to be creating it and posting it other than to generate a bit of engagement because you’ve seen that kind of stuff maybe working on social or ranking highly on search engine results pages.
And I think just having something else, so in this case, it’s an employee advocacy platform, but having another channel to pull from just, again, just gives you those easy wins.
So if you feel like you’re kind of straying from the path a little bit, and you’re just putting content out for the sake of putting content out, you don’t have to start a square one and go back and do your market research all over again, and identify new pain points. Sometimes you can just pull from these easy channels, again, conscious of.
Trends on TikTok vs LinkedIn
BK: Do you think that the trends, like when we talk about trends on TikTok or we talk about trends on LinkedIn, the actual connotation of the word trends is completely different in my mind.
Like trends on LinkedIn is almost a bad word because it says I’m copying what somebody else is doing, and I’m doing my version of it as where. That is exactly what TikTok is.
You unapologetically do a TikTok thing because it’s going a TikTok trend because it’s going around.
But on LinkedIn, if you do it, it’s a bit like, oh, you’re doing that thing because you want it’s like engagement bait everyone’s doing the post about, you know, this thing.
Did you see that in your mind? Are they different?
LG: They are. Yeah, it’s not something I thought about until now, but you’re right. Yeah, I think maybe it’s because it moves quicker on platforms like TikTok.
BK: What’s your worst one you’ve ever seen on LinkedIn, and did you do it?
LG: I think I’ve definitely written posts along these lines, but do you remember, this wasn’t even that long ago? It feels so long ago.
BK: Confession time. Confession time with Lewis. What did you do, Lewis?
LG: Yeah, I genuinely don’t know if I did write anything this corny.
BK: We can go back into the DSMN8 vault and find out if you did.
LG: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll ask the editing team if you can just pull up an example from my feed. But no, it was the, when people were writing stories, that just didn’t happen. So I’ve definitely never done that, but I think I’m guilty of having written a post in that style.
LG: So, you know, and it was like a man walked into my office. He was late. He was supposed to be here for an interview. I hired that man. Whatever it was at the end, like those kinds of posts.
BK: That was me when you joined.
LG: Yeah, yeah,
LG: Exactly. Yeah, that’s my first point. Yeah, I think I do agree.
I think they are very different on professional platforms versus like the more traditionally B2C ones, but I think it’s just because it moves quicker on other platforms. I think people get sick of them on LinkedIn because it doesn’t move as fast as other platforms do.
So when you see those all text posts and those stories that never happened, that went on for like two to three months.
Whereas a TikTok trend that starts this week, if you jump on it next week, you might be too late, and it will be old, there’ll be a new meme or a new trend, sound or dance that seems to have taken off since. But anyway, I feel like we’re straying a bit from the topic but…
The Content Saturation Problem
LG: we’ll throw in a break here.
BK: Rein us back in Lewis.
LG: Yeah, yeah, we’ll throw in a break, and then we’ll jump into how exactly you can use your employee advocacy platform to solve all of these content issues.
BK: Ok, so let’s talk about how employee advocacy can help this problem of, I guess, saturation of content.
And the saturation of what I would consider to be commodity content, which before OpenAI, but now it’s going to get even worse. Because it’s so easy to produce content now, and actually content that arguably is an ok standard.
So if you go back two years, just producing content gave you an advantage.
So if you look at the, you know, what we would have been talking about on LinkedIn two years ago, it was almost saying, yes, create great content, but just create content gives you an advantage because most people aren’t doing it.
Now that’s not true because it’s too easy to create content. But we would refer to it as commodity content.
And I was talking to someone about this the other day, and the best way to describe this, I think you’re gonna like this one, was when I was a kid, well not, a kid, a teenager, I learned to mix, right, with records, not very good at it, never become a professional DJ, so I was obviously bad at it.
But what happened was with vinyl, mixing on vinyl was difficult because you’ve got irregularities, right? You’ve got, Heat to Identical players play at slightly different speeds.
There’s loads different variables, right? So to blend one vinyl record into another is really difficult. So to be a DJ, all you had to be able to do was mix two records together.
That was the standard, so you could DJ because you can do those two things, and then CDJs came out, and USB mixing came out, and then software started beat matching for you. So that skill was no longer required to be a DJ. You didn’t need to beatmatch anymore.
You just needed to press play, and you don’t even need to press play at the right time because the software will make sure you press it at the right second. So even if you’re out of time, it doesn’t matter.
So most people got annoyed because they said, well, now it’s too easy to be a DJ.
So now everyone’s going to do it, and that’s going to be bad for the industry.
But actually, what happened was the opposite. Loads of people started DJing, but the standard for what it meant to be somebody who mixes records in a club changed from being two records one to another to being this extremely creative process that in order to be good at it, you had to be so good at it.
So the standard actually went up.
So now what you see is on LinkedIn, text posts and all these things, you can see when someone’s used OpenAI to create it.
It’s obvious because they weren’t producing content six months ago, and now all of a sudden, they’re producing things that are, you know, 15 paragraphs of insight that looked like a Wikipedia page, right?
So now what I’m finding with LinkedIn is it’s the personality, and it’s how you say something, and you know even uh, and I’ve done this a few times, and I still find it difficult, but swearing on LinkedIn, you know like that’s a real bad thing to do, but actually if you swear in normal life which I do, show that and show your personality, and that’s what people are I guess attracted to.
And most importantly that you’ve actually got a unique perspective on something, because if you don’t, it just falls into you know that bland commodity content which there is a lot off at the moment.
LG: Yeah, firstly, I love that analogy, the DJing one. That’s brilliant. 100%
BK: I rehearsed it before the podcast, man, so don’t.
LG: I knew this wasn’t a coincidence.
BK: I had notes.No, I’d thought, so I’d commented on a LinkedIn post from somebody which, and I had said about it raising the standards, and they messaged me afterwards, and then I thought about it, and that was what I come up with. So it was gold content, and I saved it for the podcast.
Elevate Your Content
LG: Love it. But yeah, I completely agree with this commodity thing, though, like with, you kind of have to elevate your content now.
You can’t just get away with putting out something for the sake of putting something out.
Cause I think I saw a LinkedIn post about this the other day, and I’d love to credit the person, but I’ve forgotten who posted it. But it did stop the scroll.
They were talking about how LinkedIn was essentially just now full of obvious statements that everybody should know anyway.
So it’s like, here’s three tips to get engagement on social media. Have an engaging caption, whatever it might be.
And it’s just three of the most obvious things that really every good marketer should know.
And if you’re having to take that from a social media post and you already work in marketing, you’ve probably got bigger problems to worry about. But it is just stuff like that.
I think if I ask ChatGPT, for example, to put together a social post on how to make a social media post engaging, I’m sure that’s exactly what it would spit out. You’re right. It doesn’t give you that personality. It doesn’t swear. It doesn’t add humor.
So yeah, I think it really does encourage you to kind of elevate your game. It’s interesting to hear it, you know, put like that with that analogy.
BK: So if you think about that as a… ok, let’s use that what I just said as a post by itself, right?
It would be kind of difficult to, in fact, maybe someone can correct me on this, but I made that link between my experience of wanting to be cool when I was a teenager and learned to mix versus content creation, right?
That link requires my personal experience to be able to put something on it. So if I created a post about that, that is very different to a OpenAI post. If I asked ChatGPT to create it for me, now I could say to ChatGPT, I want you to create me a post which links these two things together, but without that experience, then those things would never be put together.
LG: Yeah, where would you pull that prompt from?
BK: Exactly. So I think if you if you have employees that are posting and they are doing things which are authentic.
Then that becomes a source of great content that you can say, ok, there’s, I’ve got that kind of embryo idea, and now I’m going to expand on it, and I’m going to find how to explore that further.
And you might use ChatGPT to write it for you. You may do, which I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with that because it’s a very quick way of having structure.
But ultimately, you still need to polish that and make it good. That’s what I mean about that standard being raised where that comes from.
So I think if you utilize employees to get their perspectives and then use it in your own content, it’s the, what’s the word?
The amount of content you can draw from is just so much more significant than if it was just one social media person trying to do it all by themselves.
LG: Yeah, I don’t think. I mean, this might age terribly because ChatGPT could become a much bigger issue in the months and years to come.
BK: No doubt.
LG: Yeah, exactly. But at the moment, I don’t feel like it is the problem.
Like if you are using prompts just to give you a little bit of inspiration, like you said, so long as you’re adding your own take and you’re adding a bit of personality, in my mind, that’s no different to reading a blog about how to put together a great LinkedIn post.
It’s no different to downloading a template. You’re literally just using ChatGPT to give you the template rather than going to a blog and downloading it.
Encourage Employees To Create Authentic Content
BK: I think that the thing that I find interesting with it, and not to hero my record analogy one more time, if I’m going to, that idea of raising the standard, to me, where social will go is hopefully, I like more video content, more personal stories, things that can’t be replicated.
So if you can encourage employees to create authentic content that they’re actually doing themselves, and you might use the rest of your employees to promote that content, whether it’s sharing a video of somebody talking about, we spoke about this on the last podcast, employee branding content, whether that’s a day-in-the-life or whatever.
But if the rest of the employees are seen to be supporting that, they’re far more likely to share content that is about a coworker, and celebrating their success than they are just saying, here’s our latest blog post, or you know, we’ve got a special offer or whatever.
Whatever the worst version is of asking employees to share content. So having that kind of personal touch, I think, just makes an employee advocacy program that much more likeable for the people who are involved in it.
LG: Yeah, and your social content, in general, it just becomes much more likeable, much more authentic.
But I think how employee advocacy and specifically a platform helps with this and how you can identify it.
We should probably just start by saying that an analytics suite or just having analytics within your employee advocacy platform is a must.
I’d say most good employee advocacy platforms now will incorporate some form of analytics. You don’t need anything that, I mean, it’s great if you have it, but you don’t necessarily need anything that’s overly in-depth.
You just need something to tell you what your top performing posts are, which shares from employees generated the most engagement, you know, things like that. It’s something that we’ve pulled from in the past.
I mentioned it earlier about one of the sales guys, Dan, putting out great content, but we’ve done it in the past going through our analytics suite.
We use our own employee advocacy platform. I’ve jumped into it before seeing, I think it was Craig again. I’m sharing out another one of the sales team, but seeing that he’d shared something, just a personal post through the platform that, generated heaps of engagement.
And it wasn’t something that I’d curated through the platform or anybody else had curated for him to share.
He just posted his own personal post to the platform, but that, to me, was a great indicator, and the analogy that he used as well in this post was brilliant. If I can find it, we’ll pull it up. But the analogy that he used was brilliant.
And I just then went on to create social content for the company using his post as inspiration because I was able to see that resonated, you know, Craig’s connected to a load of our target audience.
So let’s give it a go. And sure enough, you know, it was a piece of content that was well received.
How Employee Advocacy Platform Analytics Help Content Idea Generation
BK: And also people sharing something.
So you can have the same piece of content shared by, say, let’s say, 10 different people, and they phrase something slightly differently, slightly differently, slightly different.
And that tells you the best way of saying that thing.
So we have a phrase where we refer to a data discovery, right, which is where we do an exercise with clients where we show them how engaged their workforce is on social or how active they are on social.
So sometimes I refer to it as a data discovery call, and sometimes I refer to it as an activation report, social activation report.
Right now at the moment, I don’t really have any data of which one of those two words makes people feel a certain way.
The emotion I guess I want them to feel is curiosity, right? Cause I want them to engage with us and find that out.
So if I was to post about it through a hundred employees and half of them say social activation report, the others say data discovery.
I’ve got some data to tell me which one of those two words invokes the emotion that I want. So when I post it as the company, I’ve got a bigger data pool to test with. So I think it can be self-serving but also serving the population of the advocacy program.
LG: Yeah, definitely. And that can be everything from like you said, the caption that’s used, the wording, to the image that you’ve used.
If you’re able to upload multiple, if you’re sharing a link, for example, you’re able to upload multiple images, again, you can look at which image performed best just looking at your employee’s shares.
So when they shared it with this image, what were the results? When they shared it with the other image, what were the results?
It’s a shame that I’m basically working with one of our clients on a case study at the moment, and they’ve spoken about how they’ve tweaked their social media strategy as a result of their employee advocacy platform, because they saw results in there, they were able to kind of analyze things.
And I’m saying it’s a shame because I can’t name them just yet, I’ll drop the case study below when it’s done. But I thought that it was really cool just to see, you know, they’re making these changes based on, it’s almost like AB testing, isn’t it, like if you’re testing captions and images and that kind of thing.
BK: Yeah, absolutely, I think if I’m going to try and summarize, and tell me if I get this wrong, but I guess the key takeaway for us is what we’re saying is treat the social activity and the employee advocacy as one activity that works kind of in harmony with each other.
Rather than seeing it as an add-on that’s an afterthought that happens after you’ve done your strategy.
Is that right? Is there anything you want to add to that?
LG: No, I think that’s spot on. I think it needs to be an extension of, not an alternative to.
LG: Great. All right, well, thank you very much for listening.
BK: just don’t need to get better at finishing podcasts. That’s how I.
LG: Oh yeah, that’s the bugbear for the podcast for sure. We’ve nailed the intros.
BK: That’s what we’ll work on.
LG: It’s now just the outros we need to get a hang of.
Do you know what I find difficult is? Who’s doing the outro?
Because I always want to build on your points, but I don’t want to leave people listening for like 60 minutes while we just go off on various different tangents.
So, do you know what, Brad, I’m going to hand the baton to you, and I’ll let you do the outro this week.
BK: Well, thank you to everyone taking the time to listen to the podcast this week.
We did mention social media activation. What did I call it? Data discovery. So if companies are interested in finding out how active their employee base is on LinkedIn, reach out to either Lewis or myself or any of the sales team at DSMN8.
We will get a report over to you at no cost, no obligation, no secret handshake, no sales pitch.
LG: And that’s a promise. Cool. Thank you very much, guys. See you next week.
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