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Using Employee-Created Content to Increase Engagement

This is a guest article courtesy of TechnologyAdvice

Study after study supports an idea that’s grown to be a core tenet of the entire HR discipline: Engaged employees are crucial to your company’s well-being.

Consumers trust employee opinions an average of 16 points more than the CEO on key points like employee/customer relations, innovation, industry issues, or programs addressing societal issues.

And while Dynamic Signal reports that 99 percent of senior-level company leaders say keeping their workforce aligned and engaged is an important or critical strategic goal, 56 percent of corporate communicators say they struggle to keep employees informed and engaged.

Gallup Daily reports that just 32 percent of US workers consider themselves engaged at work.

Tapping into your employees’ desire to feel connected and informed can pay huge dividends in increased morale and higher job satisfaction. Plus engaged, connected employees improve their employers’ productivity by up to 25 percent.   

From Fortune 100 multinational corporations with workforces numbering in the hundreds of thousands to SMBs with far-flung sales teams, companies of every size are looking to employee-generated content to supercharge their internal communications initiatives.  

So what can employee-generated content do for you?

Employee-generated content means more voices

The term “employee-generated content” (ECG) is used to describe the dozens of different ways that information about a company can be shared by the people who work at and for that company. Social media posts, videos, events, polls, tweets, shared photos, blogs, intranets … if one employee makes it and a couple of other people see and respond to it, it’s likely employee-generated content.

Employee-generated content radically increases the reach and impact of a company’s typical internal communications structure by decentralizing not only where company news comes from but also how it is distributed back out to the company at large.

Where interdepartmental memos, all-calls, newsletters, and even company-wide broadcast networks once created a one-way flow of information from HR and company leadership, employee-generated content transforms this announcement-based information stream into a two-way conversation. News, questions, and dialogue happen much more fluidly and in real time.

When engaged employees have the latitude to share with the outside world what they enjoy most about the place they work, the honesty and authenticity of their posts, pics, and video is undeniable.

Employee-generated content meets your employees where they are

The larger your company, the more difficult it becomes for every employee to have a sense of everything that’s involved in bringing your product or service to market.

While secure company intranets will always be a key element of any company’s internal communications strategy, robust employee-generated content initiatives use established and emerging social media tools to deliver content as well. When properly managed, content created by employees delivered to employees via Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, and Youtube can be powerful.

In 2016, networking giant Cisco launched WeAreCisco, a massive, multi-platform initiative aimed at making “personal connection with future talent … [using] authentic stories of existing employees.”

HR, marketing, and social media disciplines combined efforts to launch and curate employee-content focused social properties under the WeAreCisco banner.  Once launched, employees were encouraged—within reasonable limits—to share their day-to-day experiences working at Cisco.

The content employees create as part of the WeAreCisco initiative is shared with their friends and followers, of course. But the magic happens when the WeAreCisco social team engages with the posts.  Likes, shares, and reposts dramatically increase the reach of a given employee’s post. The two-way, conversational nature of social media meant that in effect, every Cisco employee became both a potential content creator, and an engaged content consumer.

The dramatically increased engagement Cisco reported for its WeAreCisco initiative makes a compelling case for employee-generated content no matter your company’s size:

Twitter:  Followers grew from 5,000 to 20,000 with twice to three times the industry standard rate of likes and retweets.

Instagram: Followers grew from 1,500 to 15,000, with up to seven times the normal engagement rates for corporate accounts. Employee-created Instagram Stories are viewed to completion an impressive 50 percent of the time.

Snapchat: WeaAreCisco’s Snapchat viewers have watched more than five million minutes of video content, with completion rates as high as 70 percent.

But perhaps most significantly, the WeAreCisco initiative increased traffic to Cisco’s 500,000-visits-per-month Careers site by an additional six percent.  

Getting Started In Employee-Generated Content

HR, marketing, or social media teams looking to begin using, or increase the use of, employee-generated content need to commit to an orderly approach in launching the initiative to make sure that ambitions don’t outstrip abilities.

Plan for scalability, but launch with an eye toward sustainability

American urban planner Daniel Burnham may have encouraged us to “make no little plans,” but he likely never had to build an all-volunteer team of content creators.

As you lay out plans for your company’s EGC initiative, it makes sense to think down the road for how you’ll traffic, quality-check, and deploy dozens of employee-created images, videos and posts every day.  Use the planning tools you have at your disposal including employee engagement software and your project management software to outline goals, workflows, responsibilities, and guidelines that will help guide the process and keep it in line.

You’ll be well served by setting achievable goals from the outset. Instead of daily Instagram shares, start with identifying one good image per week. You may have an immense backlog of blog posts that need to be written, but you’ll be better served by releasing them at a more conservative pace.  You can always increase the tempo as you (and management!) grow more comfortable with the idea of someone outside of Internal Communications speaking for the company. But launching at an unsustainable pace that leans too heavily on one or two creators will result in quick burnout and kill the initiative before it has time to find its feet.

Keep focused on why you’re getting started in employee-generated content

While it can be tempting to look to your employees as an untapped wealth of sticky, high-engagement content that will breathe new life into your social feeds, it’s important to remind yourself that employee-generated content works best when it’s used to connect with and engage your workforce.

Employees who create content feel connected and engaged because their voices are being heard.  You’ve created a platform that allows them to show what they know to the whole world. It shows prospective employees what life is like at your company.  And it brings all the different voices of the people who help create your brand to the foreground.

Sure, launching your company’s employee-generated content initiative can be intimidating. The idea of relinquishing control over the creation of every word and image created about your brand is likely more than enough to make your corporate communications department need to go lie down in a dark room.

But the potential results are well worth the effort.

About the author:

Web Webster is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. He writes about technology, education, healthcare for companies across the US. As a former community & social content producer, he’s constantly looking for new ways to make brands more relevant for their audiences.