Photofy’s Vice President of Marketing, Casey Petersen, on how an ice cream shop employee reminded him of the best way to smash those 2019 marketing goals. Changing your attitude to employee generated content. 

I love the beginning of the year. It’s a clean slate of fresh possibilities. I love the energy of tackling projects I had gotten too bogged down with to deal with last year, and the inertia of a fresh new year that starts with successes and a new vision.

I’m sure many of us feel this way. However, many of us keep it strictly to personal things – goals, achievements and the like. However, the beginning of the year is a great time to re-examine parts of our brand identity and marketing strategies that we may have taken for granted over the years. The truth is – like every other area of our lives and business – our brands and content plans can get stale. Many times, social media and marketing trends evolve far past our current methods of operation.

I live in a small tight-knit suburb outside of Raleigh. We have a closed community Facebook group where people generally connect to help out others, share recommendations and discuss town events (which are numerous).

Recently, I saw a post about a small ice cream shop in town that I had never heard of. The owner had hired a government worker who was working without pay, due to the shutdown to help her make ends meet. I’ll reiterate the greatness of this gesture – the owner of a fully-staffed ice cream shop hired a staff member he didn’t need, during the coldest part of winter, when business is at its lowest, just to help her out.  

Employees shared the story in the town Facebook group, and drove a ton of business into the store. I, for one, took my family of six out for ice cream as the remnants of Winter Storm Harper were moving into our area, driving the temperature down to well below freezing.

Of course this is a great story about small businesses helping people, and the community helping small businesses. But how does it relate to marketing? Three words: employee generated content.

“You trust your employees to be the very literal face of your brand every single day. Why don’t you trust them to do the same thing online?”

Many businesses, mostly large ones, have very strict policies around employees posting work-related information online. In my company, which empowers employees creating this kind of content, I routinely sit with executives of major corporations whose only concern is controlling and limiting employee speech around the company. Nine times out of 10, the questions is: “What if they post something we wouldn’t approve of, along with a post about our company?”

I usually respond with two points, to varying degrees of success:

  1. They’re already posting about your company. If you give them tools to do so effectively, they’ll not only create better content, but at least then you can see it. You currently have no idea what they’re saying.
  2. You trust your employees to say the right thing, answer questions and promote sales to every single client or customer they come across. You trust them to be the very literal face of your brand every single day. Why don’t you trust them to do the same thing online?

While we reassess our personal priorities for the year, let’s take an opportunity to reassess our brand and marketing priorities as well. If you are looking to leverage content to drive your brand in 2019 but can’t make the investment to build a content plan that big, what do you do?

Consider placing the same trust in your employees in relation to your digital marketing plans as you do in your stores and in front of your clients. You might find it will help you far surpass any marketing goal you had already set for yourself for the year, since you’re expanding your content producers exponentially.

Photo of ice cream scoop by Anshu A on Unsplash

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