If I sat down with the CEO of every technology company within a 10 mile radius of our office — which, being so close to the New York City area — is quite a few — and said to them: “sharing your brand’s story is critical to your success as a company,” I’m willing to bet almost every single one would agree. Few companies doubt the power and effectiveness of a good narrative as a marketing strategy.
That’s largely because stories are undeniably effective. Stories garner attention. They inform, they entertain and it’s well established that people respond better to stories than stats and facts alone.
Here’s the kicker, though. Although few technology companies could dispute the merits of storytelling or a well-developed content marketing strategy, far too many tech companies are overlooking a treasure trove of storytellers within their own four walls.
No, it’s not a magical program or an army of content gnomes beneath your office floorboards. The storytelling gold mine I’m referring to is none other than your own employees—the people who know your brand best.
Before you call me crazy and walk away laughing at the absurd notion of your lead software engineer cranking out a blog post, take a moment and consider these simple tips for turning your employees into brand storytellers:
Identify and Pair the Right Skills
Content marketing requires a highly unique skill set. For example, the Spark team is composed of writers with a combined background in journalism and marketing. It’s pretty unlikely you’ll find someone with this specific set of skills in your organization, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have several content superstars within your midst.
Tech companies are known for hiring innovative people. Often, these sorts of employees possess the ability to share engaging stories—but they may not be natural-born writers. That’s OK! If a great story is present, you can always alter the medium. Instead of a blog post, an especially eloquent speaker could be featured in a video. On the flip side, you may have an employee who is gifted in grammar, but not an especially creative writer, and could act as an editor. By grouping together employees with complementary skills, you can help bring your brand’s stories to life.
Let Your Employees Share Their Stories
While you may have a list of topics and ideas you’d like your internal team to tackle, remember to give your employees the mic too. Their everyday experiences can help humanize your brand and breathe personality into your content. This is not only important for attracting prospective customers but also when it comes to recruiting fresh talent. Seeing an employee’s story can help influence top candidates to join your team.
Here, peer-to-peer ridesharing application and technology world darling Lyft uses its blog to share its drivers’ personal stories. These intimate and inspirational tales not only give the brand a positive image for app users, but they can also motivate readers to become drivers.
Establish a Content Creation Process
If there’s one thing tech companies know better than anyone, it’s how to create a thorough process. Although content creation is a creative endeavor, it’s also extremely process-centric. To be successful in your storytelling, you need to pull together a workable procedure to streamline your employees’ content development efforts.
Here’s what we suggest:
Designate roles: Determine who will act as the contributors, the editors, the managers, and the publishers. Make sure you have enough people within each role to ensure the process doesn’t become bottle-necked. For example, if you have 10 contributors, but only one editor who only has a couple hours per week to dedicate to editing, you may never see anything published.
Build a calendar: One of the most important pieces of the content puzzle is frequency. You need to publish content regularly for it to be most effective in garnering interest, improving SEO and bringing in qualified leads. However, you also need to be realistic. For example, if you don’t think your team is able to publish 15 blog posts per month, set a goal of one per week. When it comes to content, it’s always best to over-deliver than over-promise.
Hold regular meetings: Communication is essential to success in brand storytelling. Hold weekly or bi-monthly meetings to brainstorm on new ideas. Everyone should leave the meeting with a clear understanding of their expectations, whether it is to write a post, participate in a video, edit a finished piece or publish to your company’s website and social media.
Measure, measure, measure: After you begin publishing your content, review your most important KPIs. Are your blog posts bringing in unique traffic? Did your video result in a software demo request? Have you experienced an increase in leads? Because it takes time and effort, you want to make sure you’re seeing a healthy content marketing ROI. If not, you’ll need to determine why and look for ways to improve your process.
Everyone loves to be recognized for their efforts. When your team pours their energy into developing an application, rolling out a software update or releasing an innovative feature, you likely shower them with accolades. You understand their work is critical to positioning your company ahead of your competitors, and you know they need to be rewarded.
The same holds true for your content marketing efforts. Your employees may be more likely to get involved if they’re going to be recognized. One of the best ways to communicate your appreciation for their work is to publish their blog posts under their name. Not only will this empower them (trust me, everyone loves a byline), but they’ll also feel more compelled to share the post on their own social media accounts. After all, when your name is attached to something, you’re more likely to give it a little extra love.
Tech giant Intel, for example, not only attributes its Intel IQ blog posts to its authors, it includes social media buttons so readers can easily follow their favorite employee contributors, thereby broadening the reach of their stories.
Ask nicely. This seems pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many businesses fail to simply ask their employees if they’d like to be involved in content creation. You may also be surprised by how many former English majors, Toastmasters, amateur videographers and hobby bloggers you have under your roof. Who knows? Asking your employees to share their experiences and expertise could make their day.
While creating a winning content strategy won’t happen overnight, turning your employees into brand storytellers is the first step. By encouraging your team to participate in the process, your content will be fresh, unique and—most importantly—authentic.