Employee generated content (EGC) plays a powerful role in telling your employer brand story from the authentic, direct perspectives of the people who work at your company. But it can be challenging to get your employees to share their work experiences with their personal and professional networks. Oftentimes, employees aren’t sure if they’re allowed to share content about their jobs, or they don’t know what type of workplace content is worth sharing.
To help you overcome these common blockers and get great employee generated content from your company, we turned to Chris Woods, Employer Reputation and Recruitment Marketing Manager at Mars. Chris has honed his EGC program over the last several years, setting the example of how to develop his own social media persona. Follow Chris on LinkedIn and you’ll see how he does it, often with his lovable Dachshund, Barney, at his side.
Chris presented his EGC strategy at our RallyFwd Virtual Conference last December, and his session was so popular that we’re sharing his key pro tips again to help you activate your employees to build your own EGC program!
Meet the Expert
At Mars, Chris Woods is responsible for managing Recruitment Marketing and employer branding activity throughout the UK, Ireland and Netherlands. With more than 133,000 dedicated Mars associates, Chris knows from experience that when employees share content about what it’s like to work at your company, it has a big impact on your Recruitment Marketing efforts. It’s why employee generated content is central to Chris’ talent attraction strategy at Mars.
Let’s dive in to learn how to get great EGC content from your employees!
Rally Note: To hear more of Chris’s strategy, watch his session at our RallyFwd Virtual Conference on Demand.
Why employee generated content is so important in 2023
With the rise in social media usage and brands moving online following the pandemic, it’s become more difficult to create engaging content that stands out from the digital noise. Think about your own social media usage. When you’re on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, are you looking for content from brands or content from people? For Chris, he prefers content from people, whether that’s his family and friends, or influencers and celebrities he follows. What it means for Recruitment Marketing and employer branding is that it’s harder than ever for a company to engage talent online.
Chris shared several statistics from LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends report:
- People are 16 times more likely to read a post from a friend about a brand than from that brand itself.
- 92% of people turn to people they know for referrals first.
- 69% of executives agree that thought leadership content is among the best ways to sense the caliber of an organization.
Chris shared an example of how content coming from a person versus a brand can be more powerful. When Mars launched parental leave in the UK, they shared a post from their company’s LinkedIn page. It was the same post that one of their associates shared as well. But the associate’s post received 5-6 times more engagement than the Mars corporate post. Chris said, “Rather than being a brand trying to sell to you, the post felt more authentic coming from someone at Mars who you could engage with.”
What are the blockers to great ECG and how you can overcome them
Getting your employee generated content program off the ground can be challenging. Chris noted 4 common blockers that he uncovered when he asked Mars’ associates what was stopping them from sharing content:
- I don’t have the time to create or post content
- I don’t know if my content is brand-friendly
- I don’t think it’s impactful for me to post
- I’ve posted before but it didn’t get engagement
You’ll likely hear these same reasons at your company, in particular, the concern over a lack of time. “Whether it’s recruiters that have excessively high workloads, or leaders who are in back-to-back meetings, or someone who works part-time and has to balance their work life with their family life, time constraints will be one of the top blockers to great employee generated content,” Chris said. The solution is to make content creation easy (more on that to follow!).
It’s also understandable that employees will be unsure about what content, photos and vidoes they can and can’t share, and that they’re hesitant to do something that might get them into trouble. Or you’ll find employees who need convincing that their content will actually make an impact. “Consistency is the key to getting engagement on social media, and it takes a while to find a topic that you’re really passionate about that comes across in your content. So, it’s important to encourage consistent posting and to really support your employees as they go on their journey,” he said.
But what if an employee posts content but it doesn’t get much engagement? It can be really discouraging, understandably. Chris says we should set our employees’ expectations that they won’t always get immediate gratification when they post social content. “Help them understand the impact of their content and that even a few engagements can really push content in front of more followers thereby making an impact,” he explained.
One of the strategies that Chris uses is to create custom tracking links for their associates to use when they share content, this way Chris can track how many people his associates’ content have driven to view the Mars careers site. And Chris can also give this feedback to the associates, which encourages them to keep going.
Top 3 pro tips to getting great EGC from your company
As you can see, there are common reasons why some employees will be hesitant to participate in creating employee generated content. But through patience and persistence, Chris has found ways to get Mars’ associates engaged and get results that have raised greater awareness for the Mars employer brand. Here are Chris’ top 3 pro tips that you can borrow to get great employee generated content from your company.
- Uncover and use your employer brand ambassadors
- Make creating and sharing content clear, fun and easy for your employees
- Curate, not create
Let’s dig into each of these pro tips one by one.
1. Uncover and use your employer brand ambassadors
Building your first group of employer brand ambassadors is the hard part. But there are probably people at your company who are already active on social media, even though they may not consider themselves official employer brand advocates. They might be engaged in different Recruitment Marketing activities for you or sharing their stories for some of your content or your videos. Speak to them, understand what drives them and then build a strategy around them.
Making people the core of your employee generated content strategy is key. If they feel appreciated, they’ll share the program with their teammates around the water cooler or over lunch and really talk about what they’re doing, but also, importantly, share their success.
Once you’ve gathered that first group of ambassadors, you can start to share their content internally which will encourage other people to join the program. Chris’ most important advice: “Start somewhere,” he said. “Look for progress over perfection. You can wait until you get 100% of everything you want, but that could be a year or 2 years down the line. So, start at 60, 70, 80%, and then just roll that out.”
2. Make creating and sharing content clear, fun and easy for your employees
Chris’ next pro tip is to make your EGC program clear, easy and fun. We all know that no one wants to do something that feels like a chore or feels difficult to do. And that’s the same with creating content. So, think about how to create a process that makes your associates enjoy participating.
One of the key strategies here is to make your EGC program optional. It can be tempting to want to make it mandatory and almost tell people they must be a part of this program. But if you’re telling them to be there, they might not want to be there. And if they don’t want to be, then they’re not going to be good at creating and sharing great content that represents them and your company well.
On the other hand, if you’re making the process fun and engaging for those employees, they will want to share great content and they’ll learn from each other. Especially if you’ve done that first part of using your ambassadors properly first, your program will start to come together and just work.
To make EGC easy, Chris recommends to give your employees content packs that are built on your brand guidelines. Tell them what are the most impactful types of content they can create, and what they should try to avoid. Let them know that you’re always there to check content as well if they want that reassurance.
One of the key ways that Mars makes EGC easy for its associates is giving them access to Clinch’s Employee Connections platform (formerly PathMotion, and a Rally sponsor). It enables candidates to have online conversations with Mars’ associates, to ask them questions about working at Mars. This in turn helps associates create content by answering candidates’ questions, such as “What’s the thing you’re most proud of working at Mars?” Chris is then able to repurpose that content on social media and into FAQs on their careers site. From the associates’ perspective, they know that the content they write for candidates is built within Mars’ brand guidelines and is social media-ready.
3. Curate, not create
The final pro trip that Chris shares is his content marketing mantra: “Curate, not create.” To apply this to employee generated content, Chris gives his associates content assets and templates that they can easily use, but in a way that associates can add their own touch.
As an example, Chris collaborated with his public affairs team when Mars was awarded a Glassdoor Best Places to Work Award. Rather than giving associates a script to tell their networks about the award, he created a short gif that associates could share with their own caption. It cost almost nothing and took about an hour to create the gif.
This approach can be used with product announcements, corporate sustainability announcements or anything that’s related to company news and awards. “Remember to share content guidelines, but don’t write the script for them,” Chris said.
Key takeaways for great EGC
In summary, Chris recommends starting your EGC program with your most engaged employees. Remove as many possible blockers for them in that content creation process, and be sure that participation feels easy and fun. Support your employees with content assets and templates, but don’t write the script for them.
Keep in mind to seek progress over perfection. Chris said, “I’ve been through this journey myself as both a recruitment marketer but also as an employee building my own personal brand. If I’d waited for 100% perfection, I don’t think I’d be here right now, and I probably wouldn’t have shared some of the great content that I have.”
Most of all, encourage employees to be authentic. If you can create and showcase your best employees in a really authentic way and allow them to be themselves, you will attract great talent and you will retain this talent as well by deepening the connection they feel with the company. Plus, you’ll meet amazing teammates along the way too!
Thanks again to Chris for sharing his strategy and pro tips with us! Chris also presented many great examples of employee generated content that got results at raising awareness for the Mars employer brand. To see these examples, watch Chris’ RallyFwd presentation on demand, and get inspired by the kind of EGC that your employees could create.