Digitising Customer Relations: Organising in a Branded Content Setting
Gathering and using internal and external feedback are essential to enrich digital platforms and create valuable content. Collective participation does not mean disorganisation. Curation and editorial processes are needed. In fact, given the increasing number of messages to convey, your company may need to turn into a communications agency to manage information flow and capture the attention of your audience, who are overwhelmed by emergencies and requests.
You need to create a newsroom to gather your employees’, partners’ and customers’ data and content, as well as stories related to your events, culture, the market and so on. Every stakeholder will become a potential curator who feeds the newsroom either in push mode (by sending information), or in pull mode. Your employees can insert a specific hashtag on Twitter, for instance, when they relay information, enabling the “editorial team” to identify it more easily.
Organising to produce quality content quickly
The issue is not to produce and disseminate as much content as possible to increase background noise, but to act as journalists and ask what will interest and engage your audiences. It means being creative and going off the beaten track to attract attention. An information item is only relevant and visible for a day or two; this means you must improve the smoothness of the process to be agile and responsive when retrieving, editing and disseminating information. You must have the right tools (for listening, sharing, etc.), as well as the right organisational structure and processes to meet these requirements.
Content creation in the new environment means the order of priority changes from media, themes and stories, to themes, issues, stories and media. It means identifying internal backers among employees who are positioned to find, draft and share information internally and externally. This is the crossroads between know-how and knowing how to behave, a new talent management stage, and requires a well-organised team:
- Analysts to identify weak signals and uncover trends
- Creators of new digital formats to change the way you create and tell your “stories”
- People who will set your campaigns “to music” to make them visible, attractive and interactive
This will allow you to keep every participant in the system informed of the actions to take, the content to co-produce and the dissemination rate to comply with. You will need ambassadors to make this happen.
Action steps toward change
Eighty percent of useful information is inside your company; it is up to you to organise yourself in a network to gather that information rather than run after external content. Useful information does not necessarily mean material that can be used for a story. As part of your information-gathering process, think about what makes a “great story” to disseminate.
Some information is hard to use in its raw format, like a long report in PDF, for instance. A targeted interview with the author, or computer graphics, will allow you to highlight the main points in a more digestible and appropriate format. Showcase employee authors to get them to participate.
From creating content to the role of ambassador
As we have seen, more companies know they need to focus on the outside world from a social and/or digital standpoint and not remain on the defensive.
This requires working with partners in a collaborative way and developing a digital marketing culture so employees feel at ease interacting with customers or prospects. Even though most companies still perform these tasks in a centralised manner, the need to call on ambassadors is increasing.
What’s done inside can be seen outside
To prepare your employees to become ambassadors, you must give them resources and prepare them. This begins by sharing their experience with other departments, e.g., marketing, communications and HR, and arranging areas where these discussions can take place. This assumes the company is beginning to organise itself as a network, at least in terms of themes, and in its marketing and communication departments in particular. This is even truer for a global group, where interactions will be so numerous that an isolated department cannot reply to requests in a holistic way.
Supporting employees in this new role
You must organise yourself to support employees who want to embody the brand as ambassadors. This means defining roles (watch, curatorship, content production, etc.), processes and metrics, and securing sponsors among top management who support the project and encourage employees. It is especially important to support employees with training, practise and knowledge sharing, give them tools to work in a collaborative manner, plan processes for responding in the event of a crisis and capitalise on all information gathered. The entire process should be coordinated by a center of excellence or expertise.
It is unrealistic to think all your employees will want to represent the company, or that you want to involve all employees in an ambassador program. It is up to you to identify your most enthusiastic employees, e.g., those who have already established a strong presence on social media and are happy to share knowledge on the company’s social network. The goal is to turn people into the organisation’s “eyes, ears and mouth.” This does not involve them promoting a product or a service, but embodying the company’s brand. In a digital approach, what you do inside can be seen outside, and vice versa.
Action steps toward change
Although some of your employees will become ambassadors, you must not forget that this is not their primary role. Encourage external ambassadors to make a commitment and contribute via employee ambassadors. Enable every customer to interact at every contact point along their pathway. This will increase loyalty, help you understand their expectations and requirements and increase business over time.
Another option is to use software packages that pool messages to be shared by your employees through their social accounts. Employee engagement is often supported by a ranking and/or gamification system.
This article is a part of MSLGROUP’s Optimising Digital Collaboration from the Inside Out , for more information contact Anthony Poncier T +33 14482 4648 M +33 62334 0881 or Sébastian Faure T +33 14482 4565 .