While most marketers make significant investments in strategies for creating and distributing fresh content, some overlook creating a plan to leverage a valuable secondary audience: the internal team. However, if you want a leg up on the competition, thinking about ways to get more from each campaign with internal content enablement tactics is essential.
Because so much of a marketing team’s great work happens behind the scenes, the rest of the organization often has no idea what they’re up to—or why they should care. Content, in particular, can be a major blindspot within companies of all shapes and sizes.
But while employees outside of marketing don’t necessarily need to know “how the sausage is made,” they should be aware of what’s going out to the market. And the easier you make it for internal stakeholders to discover your marketing resources like blogs, ebooks, guides, videos, etc., the more likely they are to share them with their networks.
Keep reading to learn why internal employees can (and should) be your biggest content champions and how content enablement can be a high-value, low-investment way to expand your brand awareness.
What is internal content enablement?
Every good marketer knows that distribution is essential to your content marketing strategy. After all, you don’t want to pour your heart and soul into developing an incredible new marketing asset that no one ever sees. That’s where enablement comes in.
In a nutshell, content enablement is getting the right content in front of the right people so they’ll (hopefully) take a particular action. Who the right people are and what action you want them to take will vary based on your goals.
In the case of internal content enablement, those “right people” are your coworkers, and the desired action is for them to engage with and share your marketing content. The content may not have been created for them (it was likely developed for prospects or customers), but you want to get it in front of them all the same.
Why should the internal team care about sharing marketing content?
Internal content enablement should encompass all employees at your company. But it’s essential for executives and anyone client-facing, like those in sales or customer service.
By enabling your frontline employees with the latest and greatest content, you can help them stay up-to-date with new products or services and empower them to have more relevant, meaningful conversations with customers. They can learn from your content to improve their industry knowledge and share valuable information with others, both internally and externally.
As marketing expert Lizzy Burnam wrote in her Content Marketing Institute article, “Internal promotion expands external distribution. When co-workers know what content you publish, why it’s important, and how it applies to their roles, they’re more likely to share it with their networks, clients, and prospects.”
How to set expectations for sharing
When creating a plan for content enablement, be sure to bake in some guidelines for what you want people to share and how you want them to share it. While you don’t want to be too prescriptive, it helps to put some guardrails in place.
Reiterate brand guidelines
One thing to consider when enabling coworkers outside of marketing is your brand guidelines or style guide—and whether or not people are even aware of them. Be sure employees know where to find this information and are up-to-speed on the correct language and messaging to use externally.
You should also review brand colors, fonts, logos, etc., before releasing your internal content champions into the world. Ensure all your company’s basic design assets (e.g., approved logos, branded slide deck templates, etc.) are easy to access so that when your team is “activated,” they share in a way that looks and sounds like your brand.
Keep it real
All that brand guidelines stuff being said, you still need to let people be themselves. The beauty of having employees share your company’s content with their social networks or in one-to-one interactions with customers is that those shares are more personal and authentic than a post from your corporate LinkedIn page or company newsletter. You don’t want to diminish that magic by micromanaging the process.
The goal is to help your coworkers stay on brand and message while making social posts and other communications. What they write/say should sound like it came from them and not a commercial script
Where to share
We’ve talked about the what and the how, but now you may be wondering about the where. Where should employees be sharing marketing content? Are there right or wrong places?
This is another area where you must trust your internal stakeholders to choose the right places to share your content. You can always give suggestions based on what you know about your audience, but you also shouldn’t limit your colleagues to one specific space or channel.
Instead, encourage them to share in the channels and communities they’re already engaged in, and only when they believe the content can add value for the people in those networks.
9 tips for nailing internal content enablement
Ready to incorporate internal enablement into your content marketing plan? Here are a few tactical ideas for getting your colleagues on the content bandwagon.
Create a content repository
If your marketing assets aren’t already organized in a centralized location—like a shared folder, spreadsheet, or content hub—it’s worth taking the time to create one (and keep it updated!) so internal folks can easily find relevant resources. Including a brief description of each asset can also help people find just what they need.
Bonus points if you categorize by things like topic, persona, or funnel stage.
Announce content in internal comms
Take advantage of the communications already going out to all employees and see if you can insert a not-so-shameless plug for new content. Internal newsletters, Slack channels, info screens in the office, and anywhere you can get more company eyeballs on your content can boost awareness.
Take advantage of social sharing tools
Some social media channels offer enablement tools for companies to use internally. A great example is LinkedIn’s employee notifications feature, which notifies employees when the company shares a post you want to amplify. Some social media software providers like Hootsuite also offer tools that can make it easier for you to enable your coworkers to share.
Get other teams involved in content creation
Leverage your subject matter experts outside of marketing and invite them to participate in content creation. You can ask for employee quotes, guest writers for the blog, or people to star in your next video series. It makes for great content, and the people involved are much more likely to share it.
Share content performance data
Show people how valuable your content is by sharing some of your reporting data. Salespeople will be especially interested in how effectively a piece of content has converted leads or engaged customers. When they see that people are responding well to it, they’ll be more likely to share it with their prospects.
Create customizable email signatures
Chances are, everyone who uses email in your organization has a company email signature. Why not use that prime real estate to promote your content? The key is to make it super easy for employees to implement. Providing a few different options for people to choose from is also helpful.
For inspiration, check out the email signature generator we developed to help our team members customize their signoff.
Provide sample social posts
Not everyone is a social (media) butterfly, and sometimes the idea of writing even a short caption when sharing a piece of content is intimidating. Others may just be too busy. By giving the team a few sample posts to choose from, you make sharing content on social quick, easy, and stress-free. You can also encourage employees to take what you’ve written and put their spin on it.
Create simple social graphics
Research shows that adding images to social media posts (e.g., photos in tweets, Facebook graphics, etc.) improves engagement. When enabling your team to share content, consider pulling out some key stats or quotes into a graphic they can include in their posts.
Our client Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center does a great job using relevant images to promote their new blog posts on Twitter.
Add a personal touch
If some or all of your employees work in a physical office together, consider asking for shares in person. It’s a great way to connect with people outside the marketing team, and you can even make it fun with a little treat or incentive.
Something as simple as leaving a postcard on their desk asking them to share (and maybe including a sweet treat) can go a long way.
Need help developing a winning internal content enablement plan?
If you’re starting to realize that your current internal content enablement strategy is lacking or no longer working, it might be time to adjust your plans.
When you’re ready to get better results, TBH Creative can help you identify employee engagement opportunities and map out a plan for success to support your overall content marketing strategy.