In keeping with the theme of this issue of engaging our colleagues outside marketing to amplify our sound, we asked our resident Rockstar CMO, Ted Rubin for his take.

Some companies still fear the “socialization” of the workplace but locking your employees out of all personal social channels while at work is a big mistake. It only forces them to break the rules and use a different screen. Instead of being productive, aware of daily social trends, and advocating for your brand, they gripe about you on their personal platforms.

It’s become clear that employees are a company’s secret weapon. They are an untapped resource for building brand, reaching consumers, improving employee engagement, increasing revenue, enhancing culture and lifting ability to snap up talent. This is a very important topic because we as individuals are the most important “influencers,” as I so often say… Everyone Influences Someone. 

… employees are a company’s secret weapon. An untapped resource for building brand, reaching consumers, improving employee engagement, increasing revenue, enhancing culture and lifting ability to snap up talent.

In short, Employee Advocacy is no longer an experiment. Why? Because it is not the message that’s most critical but the messenger.

Dynamic Signal is a company that really understands the new power of relationships. Over the past 6 years since I joined its Advisory Board it has developed, refined and evolved a platform that allows companies to leverage the power of employee advocacy in order to generate leads, drive new business, and grow revenue and profits. Its software takes the power of relationships to the next level by enabling companies to activate their employees as advocates by having them share great content and encouraging them to represent the company’s brand online. This is a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to answering this question about “how do we engage our colleagues and as an extension of our marketing?”

The next piece of the puzzle relates to the scaling of branded content creation. 

Content is the medium through which brands can level the playing field. But not just any content cranked out by your corporate marketing department. I’m talking about going to a source that’s close to home—your employees. Employee-created content (ECC) can overwhelm corporate or agency created content by connecting with shoppers as close to the point of purchase as possible. It comes from those we truly look to for advice, referrals, and product or service specific information. The solution is to have these employees help you create branded content at scale.

The main idea is to change your thinking about how to incorporate localized and general branded content. What’s going on in people’s lives and in their neighborhoods, things your customers would find appealing or fun, things that are relatable, this is the key. Chances are, most of your employees already use Facebook, Instagram, and/or LinkedIn…. platforms that connect them to those who know them. Each has their own audience of friends, family and colleagues, and ECC affects the channels most relevant to the people creating them.

While Facebook might be important to paid brand media, your local restaurant servers might prefer Instagram because that’s what their audiences prefer… even better with the multiple platforms people use every day. Local personalized content captures the authenticity of the community. The challenge is giving the right tools to your employees, so they feel comfortable sharing your company’s brand as part of their social outreach, and so it incorporates properly branded assets.

Help Them Create It… 

Photofy, is a powerful content creation tool and photo editing app that lets your employees become “micro influencers” right from their phones. (Full disclosure… my business partner John Andrews joined the company as CEO in January 2018, and as has been the story for the past 10 years or so, brought me along as CMO, lucky me to be able to tag along on John’s brilliant coattails). As a business, you can help by providing the app with logos, photos and other creative imagery that your employees can use, or they can use their own local images or stock photos (Photofy has thousands of free ones) and incorporate your logo. 

The app is like a box of digital branding Legos your collaborative teams can use to create authentic, on-brand content for digital channels. This type of content delivers significantly higher engagement than branded content, because it drives search optimization and shopper find-ability.

One of the biggest challenges brands face in working with their employees to create content is letting go of control of their brand collateral. The key is finding the right tools and using them in collaboration. Stay in communication with your employee micro-influencers, so they are always in the know about campaigns, designs, events and milestones. There are lots of photo editing apps out there, but choose one where you can manage your artwork, subscribers, fonts, templates, user groups, analytics and more right from the app.

The idea is to make collaboration with employees easy, seamless, and most importantly, measurable. This takes the fear out of unleashing your employees to the digital wind, especially if your brand is larger, with multiple markets and areas of operation.

The Photofy App enables and empowers the creation and sharing of properly branded photographic content at scale. It is easy to create beautiful branded content in under 30 seconds.

The proof really is in the pudding. One of Photofy’s case studies, for instance, is a fitness club with 36 markets across the United States and Canada. When the club used Photofy’s Enterprise Pro service to empower over 6,000 employees, it created over 80,000 pieces of branded content leading to an exponential increase in content and engagement across social channels (with an estimated reach of 40 million.)

There is an opportunity with measured ECC to see the channels where employees are getting traction and this can deliver useful insights when set against the usual targeting of a specific audience on a specific channel. Employees share where THEY get traction which is likely more relevant, and at the very least expands audiences reached beyond ad targeting.

I strongly recommend brands check out both Dynamic Signal and Photofy.

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