Stop Trying To Create Your Employees’ Thought Leadership
Employee advocacy is a great way for anyone and everyone in your company to build their online presence while also leveraging this credibility to become valuable brand ambassadors for their employer.
When done correctly, it’s a win-win scenario with the company providing the content and resources to develop and build their digital audience and, in turn, making the company look better when sharing a carefully curated and high-quality content mix.
For many organizations, those in marketing and communications must play a significant role in launching and sustainably growing their organization’s advocacy program.
And rightfully so! Your marketing department is your resident expert in determining what will and will not reflect positively on the company and its team.
They often have a keen understanding of the company’s brand voice and the demands of its target audience. But does that mean they should be burdened with the task of crafting every word on your employees' personal social media profiles?
Let me ask a counter question: Is it really thought leadership if it’s coming through a highly edited process that doesn’t reflect the person sharing it?
At UpContent, we have helped hundreds of companies successfully launch and sustainably grow their employee advocacy strategies by providing them with high-quality curated content that adds context to the original content created within the company - and enables employees to authentically showcase their interests and expertise.
But having a pool of content to choose from is only the first step. Equipping your team to include their perspective and reasons for why they are sharing a piece of curated content is where the magic of thought leadership happens.
In this article, we will discuss whether you should be writing the copy your employees will use when sharing third-party content, how to write copy for captions, and why trusting in your team to personalize what they share is critical to the sustained success of any advocacy program.
Should You Be Writing The Copy Your Employees Use When Sharing Third-Party Content?
As the resident marketing expert here at UpContent, I know why marketing would want to help craft each caption for all third-party content your team might share.
We, as marketers, are in charge of the brand’s voice, perception, and presence. We take it seriously, and not everyone is clued into all the nuances of branding.
They aren’t supposed to. It’s not their job.
BUT, when talking about employee advocacy or social selling, if you are drafting everything they are sharing, that defeats the purpose of the program.
Employee advocacy is all about building up your team’s individual online credibility. For that credibility to be authentic, it needs to come from them.
This is my hot take: If you want a successful employee advocacy program, you must loosen the reins as a marketing department and, at the very least, treat the messaging requirements on extra like content different from the posts that relate to original content.
This doesn’t mean you don’t ensure the third-party content your team shares aligns with your company’s goals and values. It doesn’t even mean you recommend a compelling caption to make the process easier.
But you shouldn’t feel the need to write everything they are going to share. Instead, you can share some tips or guidelines to give them a framework, but the majority of the caption should sound like them.
How Anyone Can Write Copy For Captions When Sharing Third-Party Content
A blinking cursor can stop almost anyone in their tracks. What was once a constant and steady stream of thought slams to a halt when faced with having to type something.
When trying to build your credibility or share your thoughts on a curated article, how do you craft a caption that accomplishes both while encouraging someone to read what you shared?
Here are three tips to help anyone in your organization create authentic and effective captions, whether you’re naturally a good copywriter or not.
Feel free to share these with your team or use some of the tips yourself!
Stop taking yourself so seriously
Just because you are writing the message vs. speaking, it doesn’t mean you need to become paralyzed in pursuit of “perfection.”
You are an individual, and your current and potential audience wants to hear from you. The real you!
Just quickly typing out why you liked or disliked the article and why you think someone should read it is all a good caption needs to be.
What’s more important is that you are consistently sharing these perspectives and engaging with the perspectives of others - not that you’ve cracked the algorithm with your use of spacing and hashtags.
If you’re getting stuck, try saying out loud what you would say to someone in person if you were recommending the article at a dinner party.
Then, once you get some thoughts down, check spelling and grammar, and publish!
Think of your caption as a “hot take”
Your caption shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds of thought. What was your immediate takeaway, impression, or thought after reading the article you’re sharing?
This helps you get your honest thoughts out and keeps you from overpolishing or overediting something that should feel authentically your thoughts.
It doesn’t need to be any longer than one or two sentences answering the questions 1. Why you did or did not like the article, and 2. Why do you think someone should read that particular piece?
Feel free to expand on that a little more, but don’t feel like you need to write a whole novel.
Don’t try to write like someone else, sound like you! Especially if you do talk with your online audience in person, they will be able to tell if something doesn’t sound like you.
This is your chance for your followers to get to know you and your professional thoughts, advice, and opinions.
Just like if you were texting someone about this article, your caption should have a similar feel!
Take advantage of AI tools
If you’re still struggling to get some copy on the blank screen, you can take advantage of AI generation!
While you shouldn’t use anything without editing and reviewing what it says, sometimes using AI as a “second brain” helps get your creative juices flowing enough to write your own caption!
I use ChatGPT primarily, but there are a number of generative text tools out there that you can experiment with.
Try giving the tool a prompt, such as, “I’m sharing an article about XYZ with my followers, and I want to encourage them to read this article. Please help me create a social media caption I can use when sharing this article.”
Then, depending on what the prompt gives you, edit it to sound more like you! I often use the results as a launch point for ideas and don’t even use the copy it gave me.
Just remember not to take too much time writing a caption. Write something that sounds like something you would say, and just be honest in your thoughts!
Trust Your Team To Write And Share Their Own Thoughts
Even if some of the people in your social selling program aren’t the best copywriters, that doesn’t mean they don’t know what they are talking about.
They are already experts in their own space, and their thoughts and opinions are valuable, so you (marketing peeps) have to let them share those thoughts.
If this is something that, as a company, you’re not ready to do, then employee advocacy may not be the best option for your company.
But if you want this to be successful, you have to let go and let your employees take charge.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t do everything on your end to ensure that great content that reflects well on the company isn’t available, but you have to trust your employees to talk to their audience on their own.
Still hesitant? We get it. One way to help you and your team get started is to allow post personalization on external content that falls beyond your industry and the solutions you offer.
Lifestyle content is a critical part of a successful content mix and can be a great gateway to experiment with your team’s interest in personalization.
If all goes well, you can then open up personalization for external industry thought leadership as well and then, evaluate whether some posts referring to your own content should be open for customization.
Successful advocacy programs share a primary goal - being a service to their team to support their building of personal brands. By keeping that goal at the forefront, your program with undoubtedly experience success not just for your team, but in advocating your company message as well.
If you’re interested in learning more about employee advocacy and how to do it well within your company, check out some of these other blogs!