You likely have a handful of willing content creators inside the organization: the image-conscious CEO, the social media-savvy sales guy, the product evangelist. But they are finite resources.
In fact, I was having a conversation with some folks from CMI and they told me that in their recent talks with marketing leaders (more on that soon), one of the biggest challenges facing teams is figuring out a way to use all of the internal knowledge and turn it into useful content.
This is tough to do — and there is no simple solution — but there is a way to tap into the vast seam of knowledge hidden away elsewhere in the company and get it up to the surface. I started referring to this as “content fracking.”
“Fracking,” as a general term, is most widely used in the oil industry, where it refers to a technique that enables oil companies to extract otherwise inaccessible shale oil from the ground. It enables them to tap into valuable new seams of oil; the parallel of content fracking, therefore, refers to the techniques we might employ to access the valuable content that lies deep within our organizations.
Rooted in social media
Unearthing knowledge and participation from people inside the company is nothing new, but the best-documented case studies usually focus on the use of social media, rather than the pure production of content. For example, companies like Southwest Airlines, IBM, Adobe, and Cisco are feted in Cheryl Burgess’ book The Social Employee for having given their employees both the encouragement and the guidelines for becoming social ambassadors.
But while the principle behind content fracking is similar, its focus isn’t on using each employee’s network (valuable though this can be) but, rather, on the knowledge that each employee has and how marketers turn it into content.
An example of mining employees for content
Examples of content fracking might be found in those companies who find content in unexpected places. A well-documented example is that of electronics materials manufacturer Indium Corporation. Compared to the aforementioned companies, Indium is small, but it has been getting employees to participate in useful content creation for some time. Indium has encouraged technical staff and sales to share their thoughts and expertise with customers via blogs, which has not only enabled the company to better connect with customers but has also greatly reduced the amount of money it spent on trade shows.
Indium engineers were reluctant bloggers to begin with, but the marketing department helped them first to understand the principles of blogging and why they felt it was the right way to go. Thus encouraged, the engineers warmed to their task and soon embraced the idea, and Indium therefore benefited from a new seam of rich content from deep within the organization.
Stop ignoring your biggest (hidden) asset
All I ask is that next time you sit down to plan upcoming content, simply consider the 12 points below. The danger is that you could be ignoring your biggest asset — the expertise and the sheer content potential of the employees in your company.
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Ask yourself if any of the tips might help you to unearth content that would breathe new life into your content plans — whilst also motivating and rewarding the people who work around you.
I’d love to get your thoughts: what are your challenges and successes when it comes to getting employees to participate in content creation? Are there companies which are doing this well?
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