By Doug Kessler published March 24, 2014

Employed Media: How Internal Advocates Can Share Your Content Marketing

business people with laptopThe content marketing gospel that everyone keeps under their beds has three entries under “media”:

  1. Owned media: Your website, company social media pages, and email database
    • Strengths: You control everything.
    • Weaknesses: You mainly reach known prospects (or those who are anonymous but recently acquired through the other two kinds of media).
  1. Paid media: You know: ads
    • Strengths: You can reach way out beyond your known universe.
    • Weaknesses: It costs money (bastards!).
  1. Earned media: Also known as “other people” — the ones who share your stuff
    • Strengths: It’s free, it carries the personal recommendation of the sharer, and it reaches beyond your world.
    • Weaknesses: You really do have to earn it, the hard way (by producing epic content). 

This has been the Content Marketing Tripod forever — or since some early pioneer called it out and stuck three names on it (probably a Pulizzi or a Rose or a Handley, I imagine).

But, all of a sudden, there’s a fourth leg to the stool:

Introducing employed media 

Employed media is encouraging the people your company employs to share your wonderful content with their own universes.

I wish I’d invented this term, but I didn’t. I’d been thinking about it for a while, then I heard a speaker mention it at a conference, kind of in passing, and a light went on. A reflected light, granted, but a light just the same.

What employed media looks like

A while back, I wrote a post on the concept of a Center of Content Excellence — a new discipline and resource charged with propagating the power of content marketing, maintaining standards, and reducing duplication of effort.

Employed media is an important part of any Center of Content Excellence.

The idea is simple: If all sorts of folks in your company would and could use your great content in their interactions with the world, they’d amplify its impact many times over. 

But to do that, two things have to be true:

  1. They need to know what content exists, including what it’s about, whom it’s for, and where to find it.
  2. They need to understand how it can help them: We can’t assume everyone is a natural-born content marketer. In fact, it’s safe to assume that nobody is — especially as you stray from the cozy, caffeinated confines of the marketing department.

Once these two things are true, you’ve got a major new channel for your goodies. And it’s a channel that combines the strengths of the other three media types with fewer of their weaknesses:


  • It’s free — just like earned and owned media.
  • It reaches beyond your marketing database, like paid (and, to a lesser extent, earned) media.
  • It carries a personal recommendation, like earned media.


  • It takes a bit of effort (like the other three and, let’s face it, like everything else in life, you lazy bum).

Who are your best employed media vectors?

  • Sales people are the obvious first choice. Imagine if every sales person could discover and access every piece of content in the company and knew how to use it to create and progress opportunities. (I know: OMG, right?)
  • Those other “marketing” people we know about but never talk to — in, like PR, and corporate communications, and channel and investor relations, etc. Great content will shake, rattle, and roll their worlds.
  • Product people can use content in their speaking engagements and their interactions with standards groups, industry bodies, and bowling leagues.
  • HR people could use it to attract and seduce talent.
  • Partner people could use it in their partner-based processes and, like, meetings.
  • Senior people could refer to it in speeches, interviews, and … um … golf … contests, maybe?

See how powerful this is?

You may have noticed that, as these roles got further and further from mainstream content marketing, I spoke about them with less and less authority. And that’s the point.

We don’t know exactly what all of these people do all day, so we’re not best qualified to tell them how to use our content in their jobs. But they are — once they know about it and get the basic idea of sharing your company’s expertise to help people do their jobs.

So that’s what we content marketers need to do.

Harnessing the power of employed media

Here’s the suggested drill:

1. Collect all your content in one place: Or, at least index it centrally (we built a very cool content audit tool to help, but you can’t have it yet).

2. Tag it up: Add metadata that describes:

  • What each piece is about
  • The target buyer persona(s)
  • Where in the funnel it’s best used
  • The main storyline
  • Any connection to product
  • Who made it
  • Where and how it’s been used already
  • How successful it’s been

3. Invite your colleagues in: Tell them all about the content and discuss with them how they might use it. Do this one department at a time — in person or using your intranet or collaboration tool.

This isn’t a one-way teach-a-thon; it’s a dialogue: You need to learn about their take on all this, too.

4. Capture and share their experiences: Let the sales team in Peru know how the sales team in Paris doubled their conversion rate using your three new eBooks.

5. Consider some automation and integration: Say you connect to your CRM system so that (for instance) when an opportunity is created (or one stalls), the right content is suggested to the salesperson. Maybe even with a suggested cover email.

Or you connect it to your marketing automation system, so the right content is recommended at the right time for each prospect. Cool, huh?

6. Monitor and measure the whole shebang: Don’t give me that look. We’re marketers. We measure everything. And it’s important to track your employed media program to figure out who’s using what and to answer other questions like where and why and why not.

Here come the tools

There’s a new wave of platforms and tools that help marketers deploy employed media to amplify their content marketing efforts.

I’m working with one of them, called ContentSift, so I don’t want to prejudice you about this. Another is being developed by our friends at Resonance and it’s called Boom.

And tools like Addvocate, VoiceStorm, GaggleAMP, Expion, Social Seeder, EveryoneSocial, SmarpShare, Elevate, PostBeyond, Meddle, SocialChorus, and PeopleLinx look like they do similar things.

How to choose? Give them each a test drive. Look for one that’s easy for us marketers to populate and easy for everyone else to use, too.

Look for one that will play nicely with your existing tools. You may not need that from Day One, but you will soon. Who needs a zillion tools?

How about DIY?

Yes, you can probably do a lot of this in a good intranet. But it won’t be optimized for this specific process so you’ll have to do a lot of configuration and keep updating the thing. I prefer letting software people do this and going for a commercial product. But you may be great at Sharepoint or Chatter — or your company may mandate their use.

Bonus benefit!

When you harness employed media, you’ll also be marketing your content marketing efforts internally and that will get you promoted. Time to replace that Prius with a Tesla.

Anybody out there?

Have you been using employed media, even on a manual, ad hoc basis?  Please share your experiences below.

Want more insight from instructors like Doug Kessler on how to manage today’s biggest content marketing challenges? Sign up for a free trial of our new Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. Access over 35 courses, created by experts from Google, Mashable, SAP, and more.

Cover image via Bigstock

Author: Doug Kessler

Doug Kessler is co-founder and creative director of Velocity, the London-based B2B marketing agency. He helps clients tell great stories, then drive those stories into the market using content marketing. Doug wrote Velocity's 'The B2B Content Marketing Workbook' and 'The B2B Marketing Manifesto'. Doug is also an instructor for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. You can follow Doug on Twitter at @dougkessler.

Other posts by Doug Kessler

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  • Mike Myers

    Wow, this is great Doug! Thank you. Now we have a name for that other thing we’ve been trying to get our arms around. Good stuff!

  • Mike Bailey

    Hi Doug – great piece, and in answer to your question – yes! (Disclaimer: SmarpShare is a client) We’ve been promoting the power of employed media (great description – like you, I wish I’d invented it) for exactly the reasons you outline. One of the biggest hurdles we’ve encountered is building and sustaining momentum, even with a dedicated platform. One problem lies with defining content personae for all the potential recipients – because of the way this type of advocacy works, you just don’t know who the recipients are, so how do you target properly?
    Have you seen the buyer’s guide that Chris Boudreaux put together on

  • Doug Kessler

    Thanks Mike & Mike.
    I hadn’t seen that guide but I’m glad you shared it!

  • Marcin

    Great post Doug – good to see so many things we’re working on organised so nicely (and mentioning BOOM at the same time!).

    Two areas I’m particularly interested in are: initial content amplification (just after it’s published, the first push the team can give) and the metrics loop – figuring out which content works where, and what’s the best route (and copy!) to promote content. I think it can help both the whole organisation feel involved with product and market, and at the same time decrease the learning loop of the content marketer. I haven’t given much thought to using past content – definitely an area worth exploring for sales purposes, and as you mentioned – taxonomy and recommendation will be crucial here. Thanks!

    • Doug Kessler

      Thanks Marcin. Sounds like Boom will make a loud noise when it hits.
      I do think archive content is a hugely valuable asset that companies under-exploit.
      For the metrics side of things, have you seen Kapost’s Content Scoring model?

      • Marcin

        Now I have :) Very interesting – I believe the score (and all of amplification) should be adjusted for stage – different content characteristics will be important for TOFU, and others for nurturing (where the use of content by sales teams is relevant). We for now focus purely on new traffic/lead generation, as this was the primary concern marketers voiced. Also, where I see content marketing being exploited now best is SaaS and online services, where sales teams are smaller and often not network based.

        • Doug Kessler

          Sounds good. I do think any content scoring may have to be highly customised for each client (and maybe campaign). But I like that we’re scoring content not just ‘leads’, as lead nurturing does.

  • Kurt Shaver

    Great article. Concepts, processes, and tools are all there. I agree that efforts should start with SALES PEOPLE. They typically have the biggest networks, the most experience communicating to customers, and the most vested interested in building the company’s and their own Visibility and Credibility. Bring on social selling!

    • Doug Kessler

      I totally agree. If your content amplification efforts stopped just at the Sales department, it would be worth it.

  • Barbara Mckinney

    Knowing that the competition in online marketing is getting tougher, marketers should also think of unique ways to get noticed and stand out from other competitors. This article provides information that businesses need in order to achieve a positive result in their campaign. Thanks Doug!

    • Doug Kessler

      Thanks Barbara. I do think Employed Media will become more and more important as content marketing competition gets tougher in every market.

  • guptaabhijit318

    Awesome post! This blog helps people a lot. Thanks for sharing with us such nice information.

  • Dave Hawley

    If anyone would like to see Employed Media in action – check out the webinar today with DeShelia Spann, Digital Marketing Strategist at Eaton to learn

    How Eaton is transforming employees into brand advocates

    How to motivate employees to create and share content on behalf of your brand

    Best practices for launching and managing an employee Advocate Marketing program

    disclaimer, I run marketing for SocialChorus

    Registration link here:

  • Jeremy Swinfen Green

    Very interesting idea. It’s not really free though, is it? It takes up employee time when they could be doing other things. And there is always a danger that it might be slightly deceptive (and even spread into astroturfing), so you would need some good education around what it’s OK to do and how to disclose the relationship with the employer. Also in my experience it is really (REALLY) hard to achieve!

    • Doug Kessler

      Good points.
      No, not free, but sharing content can be a much better way to engage out there.
      And I do believe in total transparency of course…

  • Cece Salomon-Lee

    Great article Doug. You succinctly put what I’ve been thinking into a great article. Wished I had thought of it first :)
    Like any program, I think you have to start with a foundation first and grow it from there. For example, I found folks were more willing to update their email signatures with links to content. The links, of course, would be coded to that source for the campaign and help us get a sense of how that can help amplify the content.

    • Doug Kessler

      Thanks Cece.
      I love email footers as content distribution — and a great example of Employed Media.

      Maybe the tools mentioned here could integrate that functionality: generating email footers.

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  • Michael Idinopulos

    Doug, this is an awesome post and “Employed Media” is the perfect to describe this phenomenon. Please add my name to the long list of people who wish they could claim credit for it. Do you recall who the speaker was that you first heard it from?
    P.S. Many thanks for the PeopleLinx shout-out!!

    • Doug Kessler

      Hi Michael and thanks.
      No, I don’t remember who the speaker was, so if you want to take credit, I’ll keep quiet!
      I was hoping someone from the same audience would remember…

  • Maël Roth

    I’d like to add a tool which I’ve come to see in action for a French collaborative Blog. It’s called Social Dynamite [], maybe you’ve heard of it :-)