Have you ever heard of EGC? Well, guess what?
EGC may be 2015’s most powerful marketing abbreviation.
At least according to the Convince and Convert blog by Jay Baer, which I absolutely love. Why? Because, although it’s not written for the social benefit sector per se, it has the absolutely most useful advice about how to bring folks along the marketing continuum – from awareness, to interest, to involvement and to investment. And this type of advice is something you should absolutely care about if you’re striving to raise awareness about your mission and persuade folks to support your efforts to create a better world.
Recently, Baer had a great post entitled EGC is the key content marketing trend. And, before we go any further, I do hope you’ve caught up and have boarded the content marketing train. And I especially hope you’re not trying to do social media without a content marketing strategy. The content marketing train has clearly left the station; it’s definitely time to begin to think more broadly about your marketing strategy in 2015.
What do I mean? I mean that it’s no longer primarily about the vehicles (e.g., publishing an Annual Report, newsletter, catalogue, brochure or blog). The medium is not the message. No, the message is paramount. And it’s your job to assure your content is something your constituents will find enticing.
Content marketing, by definition, implies that you’re giving significant thought to the actual “meat” you’re serving up, rather than simply the serving utensils. And who knows your content best?
This is where we get to EGC.
EGC stands for “Employee Generated Content
And guess what? Your employees live and breathe your content on a daily basis! These are the folks most likely to be able to serve up consistent, relevant and authentic content to your peeps. They bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. They can offer an insider’s viewpoint. They have a unique perspective. And they possess a true experience-based understanding of the needs and desires of your audiences.
Let me summarize the key points made in the article to help you understand why this might be such a big deal for you and your organization.
No one understands your work better than the folks who work there on a daily basis.
They see, feel and touch the need. When I used to work at a food bank I would often chat with the guys who delivered food to the pantries. They really cared about their work, and would often share stories about what kind of food was most appreciated. Or grateful comments from the recipients. Or observations from some of the companies who donated food. The latter group would often say “Let us know whatever you need. We’re happy to help.”
Your employees know what your organization needs. They often also know what your audiences need.
The food bank employees understood that donors have a need to help. They loved making people feel good. In fact, one guy told me he would carry extra swag (old logo merchandise like tee shirts, coffee mugs, pencils, etc.) on his truck so he could give them out to people who spontaneously stopped him with an offer to help. With an understanding like that comes a great font of inspiration – a real starting point for creating remarkable, shareable content!
Content from employees is often more trusted than content from the organization itself.
Nielsen says advertising from companies is trusted by 47% of global citizens. Edelman’s trust barometer research found that company experts are trusted 66% of the time. So stop having your writers or freelancers write all this promotional crap and start asking your employees to write from their wealth of experience.
I can’t tell you how often I’ll ask my restaurant waiter what her favorite dish is. I’ve already read the beautifully crafted descriptions on the menu, but I want to know what someone who works there thinks. I trust their opinion.
ECG works because it comes directly from real life experience.
It’s not a second or third-hand accounting. It’s first-hand so it feels more genuine. More authentic. More reliable.
But it’s not always easy to get content from employees. Sometimes they don’t feel like it’s their job. Sometimes they aren’t very good writers. Here are four tips for making EGC work – with thanks again for the heads up to the folks at Convince and Convert.
4 Things Nonprofits Must Know about EGC
- Start with One Employee
“You are Simon Cowell. Make Them the American Idol” writes Jay Baer. In other words, make somebody in your organization the star. It’s easier than trying to persuade everyone in your organization to do this, and it gives you the ability to build momentum and enthusiasm. Find one person with an interest and aptitude in content creation; work with them to showcase how this can work – while building their personal brand in the process. Pretty soon, you should have a slew of employees asking if they can try their hand at this.
- Build the WIIFM Case
All your employees already have full-time jobs. So not everyone is going to jump at the opportunity to take on more work. That is, unless you make it clear to them how they can benefit personally. This is why I like to start at the top. Get your Executive Director on board. If you can get leadership to embrace EGC then you’ll be way ahead of the game. I had a boss who actively encouraged employees to participate, even running a brown bag lunch group to help folks improve their writing skills. It was great face time with the boss, plus folks really enjoyed doing something different. Other ways to reward employees include public recognition (e.g., at staff meetings; in the employee newsletter, etc.) and token gifts (especially stuff they can hang on their wall or place on their desks for other employees to see, admire and, hopefully, covet).
- Worry Less about Format; More about Getting Info out of Someone’s Head
If you really want to generate an abundance of EGC you need to think outside the box. As I noted above, not everyone is a great writer. So allow them to give you content in a format that’s more comfortable for them. Call them and do a phone interview. Grab your smart phone and do a quick video of them talking (or responding to your questions); then put it up on YouTube. Ask them to leave you a voicemail about something they’re interested in; then transcribe it and give it to them for final review. Or stitch a number of audio clips from different employees together into a brief video. Once you’ve got your content, you can repurpose it across a variety of social platforms. If you don’t know how you’d go about this, check out this step-by-step accounting of how to How to make 8 pieces of content from 1 piece of content.
- Don’t Underestimate the Power of Competition
Once you’ve moved beyond your initial “star”, and have several (or many) participants, consider how you might begin to use data and reports to stoke competitive instincts. I do this a lot to inspire board members to participate in annual campaigns. I put them on teams; then give them points whenever they refer a new prospect, make an online donor contact, make an in-person contact or bring in a gift. And, yes, there are prizes. The board members not only strive to be the overall winner; they also want to be on the winning team and will encourage their team members to do more so they can rack up points. This can work for you with ECG. For example, use Google Analytics to see what your most shared posts or videos are. Who gets the most retweets? The most comments? The most page views? Who drives the most new traffic? Begin to post and share these results internally. See what happens.
Excelling at content marketing today will give you a huge competitive advantage.
With so much content out there in the universe, your ability to differentiate yourself from others will be the key to your success. Your employees have a perspective shared by no one else. Their connection is direct and, often, emotional. They have real life stories to tell, and nothing connects more readily with folks than a great story.
So do what you can to get your organization’s best spokespeople to cooperative in your content marketing program. You’ll be glad you did.
CAVEAT: Please, please, please don’t use the acronym EGC in any of your outward-bound communications. It’s total jargon, and jargon is a no-no if you want folks to understand what you’re talking about. After all, I just wrote an entire post to explain EGC to you! Now that you know, just use it. Or, as Nike says, JUST DO IT!