LinkedIn recently released their list of the most influential brands in Australia. Its rankings focussed on content marketing, and measured how well an organisation engages with its audience. The Australian Institute of Business was ranked #1, all four big banks were in the top 10, and other well-known consumer brands like Telstra, Optus and Qantas also made the top 10.
Delivering high-value content is one of the strongest ways to build your relationship with your market, and it’s nice to see this reflected in the LinkedIn report. But, like everything else, it’s becoming highly competitive now, and many organisations are struggling to stay ahead.
But there’s good news!
For me, one of the most pleasing aspects of the report was that 99% of the top brands (globally, not just in Australia) actively use their own employees to spread the message. These organisations don’t force everything to go through an “approved” marketing channel. Instead, they allow – and encourage – employees to make their own online contributions.
How can you do the same in your own team?
If you’re a leader, you have talented, skilled, articulate and passionate people in your team who would be happy to share their ideas – if you let them. Even if you can’t influence your organisation’s brand, you can still take advantage of this opportunity. Here are four simple things you can do.
1. Give them a voice
Invite them to contribute to your organisation’s internal newsletter, the external quarterly magazine, the internal blog on the intranet, or the external blog on your Web site.
Some of these publications might be tightly controlled, so you might have to work hard to persuade their managers to accept other contributions, let alone contributions from “junior” people. But it’s worth the effort, not only for your team members, but also for the organisation as a whole.
Don’t limit your thinking to the written word. They could present (or co-present) at meetings, deliver training courses, publish videos, and present webinars.
2. Build their authority
Some team members will be so keen about speaking up that they want to become an authority in their own right. Give them a platform of their own, beyond just being a contributor to a shared platform. The focus shifts from “This month’s newsletter has an article by Shamini about our supply chain process” to “Shamini is an authority on supply chain management, and we’re proud to host her blog on our Web site”.
This might take even more effort to get approved, but again it’s worth it. Having a reputation as an organisation that fosters thought leadership is good for everybody.
3. Support their existing platforms
Some team members will already have a strong online presence. If that is aligned with your team or organisation, help them develop it further.
For example, Gillian might be passionate about women in leadership, and already has a blog, Facebook page, and YouTube channel about that topic. Any leader in any organisation can support this, especially if you work in a male-dominated industry.
Look for ways to support her – for example, giving her time to work on this passion, finding conferences and events for her to attend (or present at), showcasing some of her work in your internal publications, and so on.
Be careful not to “take over” her platform. You can invite her to contribute to internal publications, but don’t force her to bring everything under the organisation’s umbrella. If she’s passionate enough to have built a following, she’s passionate about it being hers. Support her in continuing to build her expertise and authority, and you will benefit anyway.
4. Tap into their networks
Your team members operate in completely different social circles than you, so you might think their networks are not valuable to you. However, the exact opposite might be true. This difference might be useful because they connect you to completely new people. Mark Granovetter called this “The Strength of Weak Ties”, in his paper of the same name, which has become one of the most widely-cited papers in the social sciences .
Ask your team members to reach out to their networks when you need help with recruitment, product recommendations, product testing, and of course extending your brand.
Are you giving your team members these opportunities?
It might seem unproductive to give team members time for these activities. But it’s not – just the opposite. By giving them the chance to express their ideas, share their passion, and build their authority, you’re giving them a more engaging workplace, show that you value them, and building your organisation’s brand – all at the same time.
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