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Happy New Year! Welcome to the Year of Cooperative Content

content marketing, blogging, branding

The summer after my freshman year of college, I returned to my hometown for an internship at an advertising agency. To subsidize the unpaid internship, I picked up my part-time job from high school at Sonic, the fast food restaurant.

After bringing extra Sonic burgers to the agency for probably the fifth time, my boss asked me, “Don’t you hate being around the same food you spend 20 hours every week making?”

To me, that question was absurd. I really did believe Sonic was the best fast food restaurant—where else could you have your drink one of nearly half a million different ways?—and I vehemently told him so! I guess I drank the Kool-Aid—or, limeade, in this instance.

“If every employee everywhere had that mentality, we’d all be out of a job,” my boss remarked, mostly joking.

With 78 percent of CMOs thinking custom content is the future of marketing, its estimated that $135 billion was spent on new content in 2014, up from $118.4 in 2013.

With a burgeoning focus on content marketing, its estimated that companies reliance on existing employees’ help generating content will continue to grow.

According to Jay Baer, president of Convince & Convert, 2015 will be “The Year of Cooperative Content.” Yes, I’m talking about insourcing.

“[It] will bring decentralized content creation programs with participants across the company (not just marketing), as well as content initiatives that rely on user-generated content in expanded and highly strategic ways,” he says. “The best source of content in most companies may be right under your nose: your employees and customers.”

But why?

  • First of all, it takes a village! Think of the blogs you follow—if they aren’t being updated with fresh content, adiós!
  • It provides a creative outlet. Employees often find meaningfulness in creative work, which can increase work satisfaction and engagement, as well as employee performance and retention.
  • Each and every employee at your company has something useful to share with your audience. If not, why are they there at all?
  • In many instances, your employees (and existing customers, for that matter) are already your biggest cheerleaders. They show up every day to promote and propel your message, your goal and your brand.

But just as any good leader knows, you must empower your employees to succeed. So what can you do to get your brand’s cheerleaders ready for the big game?

  • Make sure your employees understand what makes a good story...And help them identify stories worth spreading.
  • Consider hiring a content editor to maintain the “Culture of Content,” and provide a sounding board and supportive environment for employees as they learn this new set of skills.
  • Take into consideration what each employee might be best at and most interested in producing. The guy who listens to NPR at his desk all day may be interested in creating podcasts or audio slideshows. The woman down the hall with the stellar Instagram might love to incorporate that into her daily routine at work.
  • Give them the tools and knowledge to create the content you want, whether that’s blog posts, videos or something entirely new. If they don’t know what you’re looking for and how to accomplish it, chances are your “opt-in” content creators will quickly get frustrated and opt out.
  • Collect feedback. What can you do to make the process better? Which content most resonated with them and their friends and family? Basically, what’s working and what isn’t working.