Eighty-nine percent of B2B organisations use content marketing to drive higher website traffic and attract more customers.
This is good news for marketing teams because although content marketing strategies cost up to 62% less than traditional marketing strategies, they actually deliver three times as many leads. But did you know that it's also good for HR departments? Because while the focus of content marketing is often on how it benefits sales and marketing, content can also play a prominent role in expressing company culture and attracting talent that reinforces it.
The link between content and culture starts with your employer brand. "It's a candidate's market, so employer branding is more important than ever before," says Jamie Nichols, Head of Community at CultureIQ. "And when your employer brand is made up of everything that faces the public, everything you write is a reflection of how your company approaches business - even when your blog covers topics that aren't related to company culture."
For all the benefits of using content to boost your efforts in building culture, it's not something that will happen by itself. Marketing and sales teams, which often control the company blog, are more likely to focus on branding and messaging than how the blog reflects on the company's internal culture.
If you think your company blog could reinforce your culture, here are five specific strategies you can use to combine the efforts of content marketing and human resources:
1. Pitch it as a campaign
Don't leap to wrangle control of the blog right away. Instead, pitch it as a strategic cross-functional campaign. This will help avoid a turf war with whichever department owns the blog and encourage more participation.
"Campaigns work because there's a clear goal and outcome to drive toward," says Nichols. "It's easier to build energy and re-evaluate after a set period of time to see what effect it's had on customers, new hires and employees."
2. Get employees involved
Employees want to be connected to the company mission and feel like they're making an impact on the company and the customers. Help them do this by asking employees in different functions to contribute to the blog to talk about their areas of expertise. This gives the blog a wide range of voices and further empowers employees to bring their voice to the forefront.
"When you empower employees to feel that their voice is front and centre, you show prospective candidates that you're up for that kind of relationship," says Nichols. "In one example, we asked a software developer to write a blog post. Sharing the perspective of a person who touches the product in a unique way helped us show customers what goes into a product, but it also gave our developer a chance to share his work. He got to exercise his writing skills and reflect on his work in a way that doesn't always come up in his normal day-to-day."
3. Check for authenticity
Content plays a strong role in reinforcing company culture, but it can also send contradictory signals if you aren't honest. Whether you're writing about your company culture or how you plan and implement email campaigns, the messages you send through content need to align with how things actually work within your company.
"An authentic culture is a consistent one," says Nichols. "The content you publish should align with how you run your company. Otherwise, employees will wonder why their employer says one thing but does another and lose trust in leadership."
4. Follow style guidelines and blogging protocol
Your submission should be reflective of the company culture, but it also needs to meet the standards set up by the marketing or sales team. Working with the guidelines and editorial process will ensure that the piece fits in with the broader content strategy but also stands on its own with on-target messaging.
"Marketing teams work so hard to create an amazing blog that communicates the right messaging," says Nichols. "Use the guidelines they've set up to make sure that your culture contribution meets those standards. That way, if something's changed in your submission, it's not personal, it's just protocol."
5. Don't ask content to do the heavy lifting
Content can support strategic company culture initiatives, but it can't replace them. As you approach a content strategy for building culture, make sure that the content you produce is a sign of what's going on within your company culture, not the proposed solution to culture issues.
"Ultimately, if it's something that's just happening on the surface, and the underlying assumptions don't align, it will backfire," says Nichols. "If employees are rolling their eyes when they get assigned to write a blog post, that means this is not an authentic expression of your culture. Employees need to believe that the leadership really cares about what they have to say and that it's valuable to express their opinions before they'll buy into the campaign."
Every effort to develop company culture comes down to aligning a company's values with how it does business. Content is one more way organisations can show that alignment to customers, employees and prospective hires.