#7 surprising benefits of using employee generated content

 

I had the pleasure of opening the Talent Acquisition Benchmark Summit with Ken Brotherston and the TALiNT Partners team earlier this month.

It was a gathering of around 70 Talent Acquisition/Resourcing and HR Directors who came together to learn, to be inspired and to understand what they can do to evolve their resourcing practices.

I was part of a conversation about employer branding, the pros and cons of using external agencies to create bespoke campaigns and using employee generated content.

There are some great branding agencies out there and I’ve worked with a fair few in my time.  Yet, I think organisations (irrespective of size) are missing a massive opportunity by overlooking the opportunities for employee generated content, or EGC for short.

While you may think you want to keep control of the content that your employees generate, the reality is EGC performs much better than anything that is created and distributed by your marketing, communications or HR teams.

Wat is EGC?

Employee generated content is any form of content that is created and distributed by your employees. Unscripted, authentic and a true reflection, from their point of view, about what it’s really like to work for you. It’s usually blogs or videos but can be any form of content that’s typically viewed and shared online.

Why is EGC so valuable?  Because employees and customers alike are becoming far more cynical about the companies they want to work for and who they want to buy from.

98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company. (Weber Shandwick)

It used to be enough to make sure your website looked great with some nice branded videos and brochures (or playbooks as some call them) and then sit back and patiently wait for the influx of candidates (and customers) to come pouring in. Those days are long gone now.

With the increase of social selling – when your product or service is sold through word of mouth – it has become obvious that it only works if people trust the messages you share.

It takes a lot of effort to convince your customers you are the real deal.  They will look beyond your website and instead will want to see snippets of how you run your company, what your stand for and what your employees think.  Not only about what you do but how you treat them on a day-to-day basis.

If part of your external messaging is that you value individuality, creativity and collaboration for example, but they are only words on your annual report and aren’t evidenced anywhere else, people are less likely to believe what you say.

In using content to generate trust, people have to see the real you.  They want to see the faces behind your business and they want to understand the processes behind what you create or offer.  The ‘behind the scenes’ stories can count for a lot.

For the first time in my career, I’m not working for a brand or another company.  Therefore, if you want to work with me, it’s important that you get a glimpse into who I am, what I find interesting and what I care about.  That’s why I write and create my own videos. Nothing fancy, just me, a selfie stick and some semi decent lighting. It’s authentic and real. It’s just me.

For anyone working in internal comms, marketing or brand, look away now

I have worked in businesses where the HR (myself included)  marketing, brand or communications team wanted to keep a tight rein on any content that would be used externally.

Capturing videos and photos, for your internal intranet?  No problem, fill your boots. But in sharing content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media platforms, there is usually a sign-off process.  Nothing gets put past the gatekeepers. I’m not criticising them as they have a job to do and making sure it shows your brand in its best light makes sense.

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The problem now however, is that customers and your potential employees have cottoned on to all that glitters is not gold.  They can see through any centrally controlled narratives. And they just don’t believe it anymore.

Thus, if you are going to think about using employee generated content, you need to keep it separate from your formal marketing and communication efforts.  If on the one hand you say to employees you want them to capture real, authentic moments but on the other, all content has to be approved by your HR, marketing or comms team, you will only annoy and disengage them.

“But what if they say something that’s not on brand?”

I completely get that for some, it will feel uncomfortable to have your employees create whatever type of content they wish and share it externally.  You may be worried they’ll go rogue or have something bad to say about your company. Like an amplified version of poor Glassdoor feedback or embarrassing footage from your company Christmas party.

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However, I believe that the benefits outweigh the risks.  It’s good fun and empowers your team to share content that authentic and real and some may surprise you with what they create.

#7 surprising benefits of using employee generated content

  1. It can save you money.  The cost for using traditional marketing campaigns can quickly spiral out of control when you add in planning, asset designing, creation and execution.  You can experiment with EGC and it can give you a bigger reach and impact for a smaller cost, even if you have to partner with an external provider to help facilitate it.
  2. It’s great for morale.  Writing blogs, creating videos, designing infographics is great fun for those who enjoy this and do it regularly outside of work.  Anyone can get involved and what they create is personal to their strengths and unique skills.
  3. It showcases an authentic view of your business.  I guarantee you potential candidates will love the fact that you have employees creating content.  They may refer to something they’ve seen or read that was produced by an employee and that could be the very reason they applied for a role within your company.
  4. It builds trust and inspires confidence. Don’t forget your employees are your best unofficial salespeople in talking about your brand, product or service.  And can often do it better than any marketing campaign.
  5. It helps foster an inclusive culture.  As your employees get more comfortable and confident with generating content and seeing how it’s been used externally, it lets them know that their experiences and their voice matters.  Plus anyone can get involved and use whatever medium they are comfortable with.
  6. It can help generate revenue.  If you are clever and embrace EGC, you can also think about how you can get your employees involved in generating content to build brand awareness which can help with sales generation too.
  7. It allows you to experiment to see what resonates with your audience.  It might seem sensible to pay £60,000 for a marketing campaign but it’s a costly mistake if you find that the audience doesn’t engage with the content in the way you thought, or the channel’s you’ve used haven’t quite delivered the return on investment you expected.
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In a nutshell, if you haven’t thought about user employee generated content for your employer brand or revenue generating activities, maybe I’ve convinced you to consider it?

If you are looking for innovative ways to bring more fun back into the workplace and boost your employer brand, with the right framework, this could be a great place to start.

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