For 15 months, companies have distributed their operations, allowing as many employees as possible to work from home. Most companies will continue to operate with a blend of telework and office work going forward. 54% of current teleworkers report they want to continue working from home after the pandemic ends. The companies who succeed in the post-pandemic period will be the ones who embrace distributed operations, while still maintaining employee engagement.
Balancing distributed work and employee engagement will be crucial for marketing teams. Paradoxically, this balance may require expanding your team. Enlisting more people in your content and social strategy will improve your company’s morale and your content’s performance. If you want to remain competitive in the post-pandemic digital economy, you will need to embrace collective marketing.
1. Collaboration Improves Consumer Engagement
The modern digital consumer is bored. Audiences have consumed more than the usual amount of content in the past year. Everything has been read, watched, and listened to as soon as its released. Consumers are hungry for new content and will no longer be fooled by articles that retool information they have already read. Companies will need to work smarter to maintain audience engagement.
It has never been more important to stand out with differentiated content. You can achieve this by expanding your team, and by increasing collaboration. Diverse points of view create diverse content. If creativity means combining different ideas in a novel way, collaboration between employees with diverse experiences will result in more creative content. Moving forward, you will need to stay creative to keep your audience engaged.
2. Knowledge Expansion Improves Content Marketing
Diversifying will expand your team’s collective knowledge. New perspectives will bring new information and experience. Building out your content team by bringing in outsiders with a variety of expertise will ensure you continue delivering content that educates your audience.
Consumers are not coming to your blog for cat videos or motivational quotations. They want answers to their questions. They want to learn something from you that they cannot find elsewhere. Automobile buyers want to know how their engines actually operate. They want to hear from the engineers. Starbucks fans want to hear from the baristas, not from corporate. When your audience wants a problem solved, you need to find the employees within your company who can actually solve it. A team that draws employees from all departments will better meet audience demands.
According to a recent Harvard Business Review article about marketing after the pandemic, customers in B2B and B2C “expect you to have “exactly what they want.” The customer experience bar keeps rising. In content, this means relevant information.
3. Collective Marketing Cuts Costs
Most companies cannot afford to double their marketing teams. Companies that want to control costs need a different way of doing collective marketing. In order to optimize your marketing dollars, consider bringing in top-tier outside writers for specific projects as needed.
You should also consider partnering with influencers, especially if you do not have a strong social media presence. Millennials and members of Gen Z do not want to hear from a corporate Twitter feed. They want to hear from the real people they know and trust. If you can pay the influencers whom they already follow to promote your brand, you will achieve far more per dollar and per tweet.
Data consistently backs this up. One recent study indicated 40% of Twitter users admit to making a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer. 49% said they look to influencers for product recommendations. And when brand tweets were paired with influencer tweets, purchase intent in exposed users was 5.2x higher than users who did not see either. Users who only saw brand tweets only had a 2.7x increase in purchase intent.
Employing large numbers of writers and influencers is expensive. Rather than hiring more full-time writers or paying hefty sponsorships to celebrities, you can pull in outside writers and influencers for single projects. Paying an influencer $10 for a tweet or a mention will drive better results than hiring another social media coordinator. Bringing in a writer for a single project, or for multiple projects, will be far more cost effective than paying that writer a salary and benefits. And the writer probably prefers this arrangement too.
Freelancers and influencers give you flexibility. Better results, at a lower cost. They help you expand your team, achieve better ROI, and improve the diversity and value of your content.
Distributed operations, and the gig economy, are here to stay. Collective marketing positions you to succeed in the new digital marketplace. The same HBR article cited earlier identified agile development as a key marketing trend post-pandemic. Over the years, agile development has moved from software engineering to manufacturing to all of business. Collective marketing is agile. A team working in a distributed manner with greater flexibility can respond more quickly to new information. During the pandemic ability to adapt in the face of crisis determined which companies would thrive or struggle. At one point, 42% of brands say their teams lacked the ability to make the rapid shifts demanded by the pandemic. Perhaps this is why 67% of companies are working to transform their marketing strategies.
A transformation all companies should consider is a collective approach. Many brands, including Cisco and Johnsonville have already been including more employees in their marketing efforts, to some success. And with more voices arguing for a team approach to content creation, it seems only a matter of time before it becomes widely adopted. This approach will cut costs, while allowing teams to put more time and knowledge into the content they produce, which will result in better audience engagement. All of which makes it a more robust approach to marketing during and after a crisis.