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Considering Influencer Marketing? Think Internal First

By Nickie Bartels

influencermarekting.jpgWhen it comes to expanding the reach of their content to their target audiences, brands are tapping into a new form of marketing — influencer marketing.

To start, let's define this strategy.

Influencer marketing is a form of marketing that involves partnering with various influencers to create and share branded content. The idea behind this tactic is to tap into the loyal following of influencers in a given industry, which is a powerful value proposition to companies within that space and one we understand completely.

Our team at Influence & Co. has built relationships with influential individuals in the content marketing space through various initiatives, including short- and long-form written content, webinars, and speaking engagements. Partnering with other leaders in your space through content projects like these can help you reach and engage audiences you would have otherwise struggled (or been entirely unable) to reach.

 We've featured and been featured in content that helps each partner reach new audiences as a result of those relationships. For instance, our CEO, John Hall, was just mentioned in Dave Kerpen's latest list of marketing influencers in Inc. Not only was the inclusion exciting and humbling, but it was also a great example of the value of these kinds of partnerships because we were able to get in front of Dave's audience in a way that only Dave can.

However, there's another side to the influencer marketing coin that many companies overlook, and it's right under their noses: their employees.

Building Your Brand's Influence Internally

As companies are looking at outside influencers to connect with and build their long-term strategies, they're neglecting an arguably more valuable asset — employees.

If you, as a company leader, don't believe your employees have networks and expertise worth tapping into, you're making a serious mistake. The team members you've worked hard to attract and build are your biggest brand advocates. They should believe in your company and your mission and will greatly affect the future of your business. 

Take the time to nurture your employees to become thought leaders. Tapping into their networks can help you grow your reach and build influence. And the stronger your company's influence is before you begin partnering with external influencers, the greater success you'll find when you do reach out.

So how do you capitalize on these employee assets and build influence from the inside? Here are three steps to get started:

1. Encourage employees to build your company's knowledge bank.

 As the eyes and ears of your business, employees are the keys to showcasing your company's expertise in the industry, and each person on your team has individual strengths, insights, and expertise about your industry that can fuel thought leadership.

To collect all of that valuable information, use a knowledge bank that will help you store and organize those insights and streamline content creation. Once you have one in place, encourage everyone on your team to add relevant notes, pain points, examples, research, etc., that can be used to fuel the company's content. 

2. Encourage employees to contribute content.

Because employees know the ins and outs of your brand better than anyone else, encouraging them to share those key insights through content is a critical strategy, and involving them in the actual content creation process can help that strategy's effectiveness. But just because it's important doesn't mean it will be easy — in fact, most companies still struggle with this.

But by presenting content as an opportunity to build each employee's personal brand and make a bigger impact on the company, you'd be surprised how many of them will raise their hands. And whether that content is published directly on your blog or on the LinkedIn publishing platform, you can tap into their networks through their contributions.

Not everyone on your team will be fantastic at creating content right away, and that's OK. Thankfully, at Influence & Co., our employees understand the value of content and the impact it can have on the company in the long term. Our marketing team can regularly meet with anyone interested in contributing to brainstorm topics, talk through the creation process, and offer other resources.

As a result, our employees have provided feedback that they feel closer to our brand, are making a great impact, and feel fulfilled by sharing their work with their family and friends. And our company is able to build influence through content coming from our own key employees.

3. Encourage employees to distribute content.

Lastly and most importantly, motivating your employees to share the various content your team is contributing on the blog and externally is critical to gain exposure.To get your employees to share content, consider sending an internal newsletter with your company's content, using an employee engagement tool, or even writing social media posts that they can easily copy and paste into their platforms. Simply put, by making it easier for employees to contribute, create, and distribute content, you can skyrocket the visibility and success of your content efforts.

As more companies adopt influencer marketing strategies, it's important to ensure you take advantage of the brand advocates within your organization first and foremost. By encouraging employees to insert their expertise into a knowledge bank, contribute content internally and externally, and share your company's content, you can build influence from the inside out.

Build influence from the inside by creating great content from your team. Download your customizable knowledge management template below to get started:

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Posted on April 15, 2016

About Nickie Bartels

Sometimes clever and always on time, my greatest joy comes from making things the very best they can be. Office supplies, "Breaking Bad," and buffalo wings make me happy.

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