On October 24th, 2013, I spoke at Pubcon Las Vegas about motivating a team to create compelling content. From planning and research to promotion and tracking growth, this presentation has everything you need to know about inspiring your team to become better bloggers!
In my role at Thunder, I manage our blog, as well as the strategies and content workflow for many clients. The majority of this deck shares my personal experiences with content creation, but I also reached out to a few superstars for some tips. While I could only fit a sentence or two on each slide, I decided to share their entire quotes below! I was blown away by each response, and it made me feel super pumped to be part of such an amazing industry. Seriously guys, so many gems!
Thanks for having me Pubcon, I can’t wait to come back next year!
Owner & Fearless Leader – Mack Web Solutions
1. It’s part of our values Knowledge is the first value of our company. Without reading and blogging, we don’t grow, we don’t add value to our community, and we can’t make a difference in our clients’ businesses. This may not make as big of a difference to the team as it does to me, but I make sure I blog for Mack Web because it’s a value in our company.
2. Everyone participates We have lots of different roles at Mack Web: from content to social & community to SEO to design. Not everyone has to write about SEO or community but they do need to contribute (there’s only 6 of us so we need all the help we can get). Our goal on our blog is to allow everyone in our company to communicate with our community in a different way. This shows the personality, diversity and strength of our company, and it also provides a lot of variety for our readers. So even though everyone is asked to blog, they don’t have to do it the same way. They can “blog” with a video, a portfolio of images, an interview of someone they admire, or a sketch from a piece of paper. However they want to contribute is fine. As long as they do.
3. Everyone has the same due date We used to assign each person a week to blog (we’d schedule 6 weeks out) but then things would come up and that person’s blog would get delayed and we’d have no content for the blog that week. So now we have everyone on the team turn in their blog posts at the same time. That way we can pick and choose what’s best to queue up that week and we have a lot more flexibility.
Director of Client Strategy – iAcquire
My go-to team motivational method is in the form of a pump up speech:). I am a former athlete so I often picture the scenario at the end of a game, doesn’t matter if you are winning or losing, there is always something to be said.
When it comes to motivating a group of people to contribute to something collective, i have found it is important to emphasize impact. People need to feel like what they do gets noticed and matters, same holds true for what they don’t do. Pep talks aren’t always warm and fuzzy, sometimes they have to be “get in the game” talks. In my experience when the team I lead sees how much I care, when I use my own struggles and failures to relate to what they are experiencing, this tends to hit home more.
If you can remind people that when they want the best for themselves and care and follow through, there is no downside. I emphasize that individual success, as well as challenges, are tied to the group and try to focus on group problem solving, group goals, group stats, etc… when one of them struggles, we all struggle, a group is only as strong as it’s weakest member. This is important to me because there is only so much I can do as a leader, they need to hold themselves and each other accountable and if I can help inspire that, that I feel I did my job.
My go-to team motivational method is in the form of a pump up speech. When it comes to motivating a group of people to contribute to something collective, i have found it is important to emphasize impact. People need to feel like what they do gets noticed and matters, same holds true for what they don’t do. Pep talks aren’t always warm and fuzzy, sometimes they have to be “get in the game” talks. In my experience when the team I lead sees how much I care, when I use my own struggles and failures to relate to what they are experiencing, this tends to hit home more.
Community Manager – Raven Tools
It’s tough to motivate writers when we all have lots of other stuff to do, but here are some of the things I do.
Keep an open spreadsheet of ideas that everyone has access to. You can go there to suggest an idea, claim an idea if you’re feeling stuck or even suggest a topic for someone else. Sometimes getting the idea is the hardest part, and this gives us a constant well to draw from.
Email reminders and a shared Google Cal to keep us all on the same page.
Monthly analytics reports include whose post got the most traffic for the month. Hey, competition is good!
Constant, constant impromptu brainstorming. Whatever’s going on in the industry, we always end up talking about it while playing darts, eating lunch, drinking beer, etc and my constant refrain is “That would be a good blog post.” Sometimes it just takes looking at it in a new way to realize the potential.
Magic Maker – Tattly
On a practical level, I find it really helpful to have a physical calendar in the team’s space, this provides a visual reminder for the whole team of whose turn it is to blog. If the calendar is not made public, I find people are generally more willing to disappoint themselves. But if you make it public, the whole team is expecting a post and no one wants to let their team down.
Director of Content – CPC Strategy
1) Positive feedback. It’s great when people contribute. Letting them know how great they are is the truth, and increases the likelihood they’ll blog in the future.
2) Be a nice pest. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but no one likes the wheel very much. It’s important to keep on top of people for blog posts, but be sure to also emphasize there is no pressure.
Director of SEO – Kahena Digital Marketing
I send out a weekly Kahena AwesomeSauce email rounding up all the great things we do and some of the cooler projects and feedback we have gotten from clients.
Also, what I often try to find is clients that have a similar project going on and create friendly competition in the office. It gets the team excited to compete, and gets others observing to start thinking about how they can use those tactics for their clients.
Director of Online Marketing – KoMarketing Associates
We actually require those on our search and social teams to blog once a month as part of their employee development. We keep an in-house editorial calendar and work with them to select topics that are applicable to their role and interesting to them. All posts are attributed to them, promoted through social and when someone’s post does well, whether it’s a mention by someone super cool, a great comment, or just a lot of shares, we’ll send out a company-wide email congratulating them and showcasing why their post did well.
Right-Hand Man – Holiday Matinee
Well I think the areas you mentioned are all really important. So if you genuinely like something (for example, that Paris neighborhood mixtape David made) make sure you let them know and don’t be hesitant to share, not just like. Likes are cheap and easy, but I feel like sharing and writing even a sentence to go along with it shows that you give a damn.
Feedback gives contributors the confidence to keep going and less afraid to run new ideas by you. If you have constructive criticism, just make sure it’s obvious that you are trying to help them make the post better, not a personal critique.
By the way, I’ve been on the flip-side of this with Brit Morin. When I met her, I wasn’t expecting her to know who I even was, but she had read all my posts and told me something very specific about them that she loved. It made me feel really wanted and those types of connections are really important.
I’ve also tried to encourage people to take advantage of being a contributor. So for HM, the fact that you can get tickets to shows, cool products you like or meet the people you idolize (for free). It hasn’t always worked, but I know it’s something that has kept me going when I wasn’t feeling so hot about contributing. If it was with people I lived in the same city with, I know I’d be having regular coffee breaks or happy hours with the contributors.