Tell us about your role at UpContent and why you chose Hootsuite for this integration?
I am the Founder and CEO of UpContent. My role includes a number of functions but largely revolves around listening to and observing how our customers leverage UpContent to build trust and deepen relationships with their audience (internal and external). Hootsuite was our “first love” as the kernel of the tech that is now UpContent was built first as an internal solution and later spun out into its own company. That internal team was familiar with the Hootsuite platform and their ecosystem perspective allowed us to create UpContent first within their platform in order to get an understanding if anyone cared about what we were building. The relationship with Hootsuite has evolved significantly since then with UpContent available as a Stream, Content Source, and now integrated within their Amplify solution. The creation of the Amplify integration was a collaborative process with the Product and Corporate Development teams at Hootsuite. We are extremely proud of the result and look forward to continue collaborating with them, and other technologies.
Why do you think employee advocacy gets higher engagement than customer advocacy?
Employee advocacy has proven to win at both breadth and depth. Statistics have shown that, on average, the aggregate audience of a company’s employees is 10x that of the company itself and, more importantly, individuals are twice as likely to engage with a post from an individual rather than the brand itself. We believe there are a few driving forces behind this and some of it is a bit “chicken and egg.” With only 3% of your target customers ready to buy at any one time, brand profiles that overweight original content and, if too “salesy,” naturally would only appeal to a smaller subset of their network — resulting in a lower engagement rate. Further, it is far easier for a person to build trust with a single person than a collective group of individuals (a company) — causing greater interest in what that individual has to say and the perspective they are interested in offering.
Do you agree, “With this integration, employees are bound to receive a swarm of fresh content dynamically.” How does that benefit Content Marketing teams?
“A swarm of fresh content” sounds intimidating and something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The fact is that there is a thick line between “content aggregation” (bringing together a lot of articles) and “content curation” (strategically selecting the best set of articles that make it easier for your audience to become more educated in a particular interest area and, simultaneously, learn more about your perspective). The objective with this integration is to help managers of employee advocacy programs spend less time hunting for great articles and reallocate that time distributing the best of the group to specific topic areas their employees (and their networks) are interested in. By providing a steady stream of relevant and engaging articles that the employee group wouldn’t have found otherwise, the employees are more likely to participate in the advocacy efforts and share the company’s original content when it comes across their feeds. Further, through tools such as Snip.ly (also an UpContent partner), the marketing team can apply a customized call to action on curated articles providing a relevant conversion opportunity.
How do you plan to segregate employee’s work commitments and brand commitments?
It’s important to realize that your employees are (mostly) doing this already. They are certainly reading and (some) are actively sharing and engaging on social networks to help build their professional brand and develop their skills and perspectives as they progress their career. Where many employee advocacy efforts have failed is by framing “employee advocacy” as a separate and required effort rather than a service to the employees that can also bring significant marketing benefits. When the employee views accessing their advocacy program as a way to stay abreast of the developments in the topic areas that interest them — and be able to provide similar articles into the system so that their colleagues can review them as well — is when the employee advocacy program will not only become sustainable, but thrive.
What role would technology play in amplifying the role of employees in sharing relevant content and turn into company influencers? What impact does it have on customer success?
It is our view that the best use of technology is where there is a comparative advantage over completing the process manually. Using a technology for content curation and employee advocacy aids in: (1) surfacing great articles (rather than manually scouring the web) by saving time and broadening the array of sources in which articles can be derived, (2) enabling any employee that is interested in not only receiving articles, but also providing them to do so seamlessly and following an approval process, and (3) enabling the seamless distribution of approved content to employees and the equal ease with which those employees can read and act upon the articles shared. Through achieving the above, customers can come to better understand the perspective of both the company and its employees. Resulting in greater trust and deeper relationships — engendering loyalty between customers and companies.
Who owns the outcome of Employee Advocacy performance — Marketing, Sales or HR? Do you see the scope of training of employees?
There is incentive for all of these areas to have an engaged employee base with strong personal brands. For HR, a robust and engaging employee advocacy program also serves to support the 90% of training that is completed via informal programs — not only keeping up-to-date on the latest around the topics that matter to the company, but also showing support for continuous learning and mentorship amongst the team. For marketing, the benefits of increased reach and engagement as well as helping the employee base to build personal brands that reflect positively on the company — and helping them become a conduit for sharing the company’s core messaging with those that are otherwise difficult to reach. For sales, personal brands are becoming increasingly important but with the often “on the go” nature of these positions, it is difficult for these individuals to find time to surface, reflect on, and share articles that help further enlighten their prospects, and keep them top-of-mind. There will have to be a single group leading the charge (likely marketing), but this team should seek the support and input of these other groups who can recommend content for distribution as well. Training would certainly be a part of it, but this can be done rather quickly and would ideally include a session on the “why” as well as the “how” and some best practices.
How do you validate the authenticity of your content that gets infused through crowdsourcing?
By enabling employee advocacy to be a two-way street, a company can rely upon the collective wisdom of its employees to not only help ensure content authenticity but also provide a true representation of the thoughts of their organization. Enabling such a state is one of the beauties of this integration with Amplify. Individuals from throughout the company can create their own topic areas based on criteria they find interesting. They can then recommend it for review by the administrators of the specific topic area prior to it being distributed to all employees. While the platform is within the Hootsuite ecosystem, UpContent allows individuals to review and recommend articles from their phone, tablet, or desktop without needing a Hootsuite license — making crowdsourcing from the larger employee base cost-effective and accessible for all.
How do you integrate business and employee branding goals through employee advocacy?
This integration is best achieved by not seeing these goals as divergent. The best employee advocacy programs put the employee first and see their program as a service to these individuals by helping to surface and filter compelling articles, both original and curated, that help educate and support the employees in building their own personal brand among their audience. The employee’s success in building their brand through use of and participation in company services, such as employee advocacy, not only help drive business branding goals by shining the spotlight on the brilliance of its team, but also continue that growth by enabling employees to show this brilliance in the face of many competing priorities.
How would you ensure the longevity of employee advocacy, especially in a high-attrition industry?
I often remember this statement from Peter Baeklund, “CFO asks CEO, ‘What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?'”
CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”
I would contend that these are not uncorrelated events. A company that invests in the continuous professional development of its employees not only in providing the resources for continued growth, but also in building themselves into the position as “resource” for their networks, makes them more competitive and also incents them to remain with the company that has invested in them (and shows a desire to continue to do so). Further, when considering the development of the employer brand, candidates who recognize the support being given to employees within a company to showcase themselves — rather than parrot the company communications copy — are far more attractive to those leaving other organizations and looking for a greater opportunity.
Thank you, Scott! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Scott Rogerson, Chief Executive Officer at UpContent, specializes in strategic and business planning, data-driven decision making, process improvement, security, management, and compliance, as well as the development of custom applications for data collection and analysis.
With over 6 years of experience in the consulting industry, Scott has expertise in both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations of all sizes and across various industries. Scott holds specific expertise in the healthcare, medical device, higher education, human services, and energy industries.
Prior to UpContent, Scott was CEO of Community Elf – the content marketing managed services firm from which UpContent was created (and with which he still holds the role of Board Chair).
He was also co-founder and Managing Director of Oakhill Equity, an operator-led private investment fund employing the search fund model. Oakhill was capitalized by a diverse mix of institutional and individual investors.
Scott is an active member of the Pittsburgh community, serving on the Duquesne University Information Systems Management and Economics and Statistics Advisory Councils and the Board of Directors for Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc. (the City of Pittsburgh Community Action Agency).
A magna cum laude graduate of Duquesne University, Scott earned a BSBA degree in Economics, Information Systems Management, and International Business. He earned a MBA at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University with concentrations in Finance, Operations, and Marketing. Scott has also achieved the credentials of Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).
UpContent is a leading intelligent content discovery technology that helps you build trust and deepen relationships with curated content. Quickly find, sort, read, and interact with the news and blog articles that meet your brand’s exacting standards–all while collaborating with your team to identify and leverage the right content, in the right channel, at the right time.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.