A 9 Step Guide for Creating an Employee Blogger Program

Every marketing department constantly looks for ways to build and scale their content marketing efforts. As a content or digital marketer, you’ve likely asked yourself: How do I create a content marketing strategy that will be meaningful, have impact, and support business objectives? How can I establish my company be a thought leader, and produce content to support that claim? Further, how does that plan scale?

Approaching this challenge can be daunting. There are an overwhelming number of areas to dedicate resources: SEO, email, blog posts, web page content, video, podcasts, case studies, reports, e-books, webinars, social media, PR, outreach, link building — the list goes on. Each of these are important in their own right. While it’d be a dream to have a massive team dedicated to creating content, that is not the reality in most organizations. As such, it becomes imperative to discover ways to generate content outside of your direct editorial team.

Everyone who works at TrackMaven is, by default, an expert in our space. Our sales team hears about industry challenges on sales calls. Our Customer Success team is exclusively dedicated to helping make marketers more effective. Our executive team is acutely aware of market health and analyst perspectives on the future of our industry. These employees, with this intel, are assets. Regardless of how taxed your marketing team may be, and even if they aren’t super taxed, think of it this way: employees can be thought of as a 4th marketing channel –> Paid, Owned, Earned, and Employed.

Once you come to realize this, it’s time to set out to create a content program that leverages employees and facilitates their contribution. The blog is the easiest and most foolproof way to accomplish this goal. In addition to getting buy-in from leadership, it’s important that four major things are accomplished for an initiative like this to be successful: education, motivation, process and accountability.

Below is a step by step guide to developing your own employee blogger program, and some examples of how it can be done.

Educate

Step 1: Document the blog’s mission statement, goals & objectives.

This activity is crucial in creating consistency and purpose in your content. All content teams, with or without an employee program, should go through this exercise. This step helps define what your blog is, why it exists and what you are aiming to achieve.

Example

Mission Statement

TrackMaven’s Marketing content, anchored by the blog, is a collection of innovative, data-driven resources for today’s digital marketer. We empower our readership by leveraging our unique asset – our TrackMaven data – to provide insights and recommendations to help marketers become more effective everyday. Fear not! We are also a fun bunch. In addition to prescriptive resources and guides, we regularly post quirky, playful how-tos, listicles and other fun, digestible marketing lessons and tricks.

Our Approach

TrackMaven blog posts are written by Mavens from all over the company, not just those designated “writers”. Each department in our company offers a unique perspective into the state of content marketing and understands ways digital marketers can be more effective.

Further, this approach demonstrates that our entire company is educated and engaged in what we set out to do everyday — help marketers create the right content, at the right time, to reach the right people, on the right platform.

Step 2: Define your core audience.

This may seem straightforward, but it’s important to ensure everyone understands clearly who you are trying to reach. Who are these blog posts designed to help? Quite often, people write to satisfy their own interests. List out the specific types of individuals you’d like to read your content. Every piece of content you publish should be interesting to one of these groups.

Example

Our primary readership consists of:

  • Social Media Marketers
  • Content Marketers
  • Community Managers
  • Digital Marketers
  • Brand Marketers
  • Communications/PR Professionals
  • Bloggers
  • Copywriters
  • Journalists

Step 3: Show impact on business.

It’s important to teach employees how their contribution will be valuable. Explain that the blog is a destination for potential customers to discover your brand in a noninvasive and helpful way. Also explain that when content is successful, it drives SERP movement and generates link placements on external sites, which in turn, lead to heightened brand awareness and organic traffic flow. Next, provide a couple of metrics to support your claims.

Over a time period (12 months recommended), pull data for:

  • Blog traffic as a % of total web traffic
  • Search and referral sources as a % of all traffic
  • Leads generated from organic sources
  • Total new business from organic sources

Motivate

Step 4: Share past successes.

Pull the top performing content your blog has seen to date. What about that content made it so successful? Was it the format, length, use of imagery, promotion tactics or something else? Allow employees to see what content worked so they can incorporate those takeaways into their own pieces. Everyone wants to their own content to be seen. Take them one step closer.

Over a period of time, pull data for:

  • Top 10-20 most successful blog posts
  • Total traffic to each post
  • Total social shares from each post
  • A sample of backlinks to each post
  • Qualify each by: format, word count, imagery, etc.

Note: Maybe you’re new at the whole company-blog-thing. That’s okay. If you don’t find that the traffic, social share or backlink data is particularly compelling, omit it from this portion. Remember, your goal here is motivation. As your blog becomes more active over time, these metrics will become more incentivizing as well.

Step 5: Show the impact on someone’s personal and professional brand.

This one is pretty simple. If you have an author bio on a website, you’ve demonstrated thought leadership in some area. Use examples (preferably your own) to exhibit how your personal brand has grown as a result of blogging. What do Google search results look like for yourself? Hopefully they’ll include a number of listings where you’ve blogged or where your content has been picked up. Further, inform each team that as they establish their own credibility and the credibility of their company through content, their posts can be used to help move forward a sales cycle or help retain a customer or help drive new leads.

Process

Step 6: Demonstrate clearly the “how-to’s” of writing blog content.

It can be really daunting to write your first blog post. Most people don’t know where to start or how to write for a blog. Further, most people don’t know what to write about. As such, if you leave the topic selection up to individual contributors, you may end up with content that doesn’t have a great ROI (more on that in #8). Do ensure you clearly outline blogging best practices, including what the tone and ideal length of a post should be.

Example:

Our strategy is search-driven: what do [insert target audience] want to learn and discover? We should answer questions where we know there is a demand. The content team can help you discern which topics could work and why.

What to remember when writing a blog post:

  • Be smart, but casual. A blog post isn’t a term paper. Ensure that you offer knowledgeable, factual information, but use a friendly tone and conversational language. Only site sources that are high quality and you would trust yourself.
  • Be helpful. Make sure you are writing for your audience, not yourself. Ask yourself: will this information be useful and interesting to the people I want to reach? Does it answer the question I set out to write about? Am I offering a unique perspective?
  • Get to the point. It’s very easy to lose a reader’s attention if you ramble. Make sure that the introduction states clearly what someone will learn by reading your post. Lay out your content so that it’s easy to understand. Incorporate clear, concise takeaways. Summarize them in your conclusion.
  • Use humor. We’ve heard endless times people love TrackMaven because we are whimsical, quirky, and jovial. See: our logo. Don’t be afraid to be funny! It’s on-brand and will make content more engaging and approachable.

Step 7: Build an editorial calendar and process.

Instead of expecting people in your company to voluntarily come to you to write, provide a timeline and process to them. Use a Google doc or another shared documentation system to write out a calendar of when you’d like each person to contribute. Then, work backwards and identify when a topic should be chosen, when a first draft is due, and so on. Unless your company has an abundance of time, it’s probably not realistic to ask an individual person to contribute more than once a quarter.

Example:

1) View the schedule to determine when you are expected to contribute (attach aforementioned Google doc).

  • Note: Content Manager will send a reminder email to each contributor two weeks before the scheduled publication date.

2) Choose your topic.
3) Submit an outline / first draft. (20-30 minutes)

  • Let’s make sure you’re on the right track before you dive in too deeply.
  • At least one week before your piece is due, send Content Manager a short outline of what you plan to write.
  • Include main takeaways and information sources.

4) Write. (60 minutes)
5) Submit your content.

  • Once finished, submit your draft to Content Manager. He/she will edit as necessary and compose a final draft.
  • Be sure to include any special layout requests or imagery you’d like included.

6) Publish.

  • Content Manager will publish all blog posts under the author’s name.

Step 8: Supply topics.

This is perhaps one of the most important steps in the whole process. As a member of the marketing team and the blog manager, you are likely the most aware what the blog needs. Is it product marketing-driven content? SEO-optimized content? Thought leadership or expertise pieces? Company culture-related content? Whatever the answer, list out 20-30 headline ideas. One suggestion is to organize them in a Trello board and provide all contributors access. By supplying specific topics, you are directly filling voids that you otherwise don’t have the time or bandwidth to address.

Accountability

Step 9: Over-communicate.

In order for this to work, communication is key. Start by getting buy-in from key stakeholders. Then, move to the individual contributors. Sit down with each team as a group and walk through a quick deck that outlines everything listed above. Make sure everyone understands the objectives, process and outcomes. In the beginning, you may need to do a bit of hand holding. However, when the ball gets rolling and picks up momentum, you will have effectively increased your content output at least 4x without spending any additional money on production.

This post originally appeared on TrackMaven.

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Director of Content Marketing