Fuel Your Content Engine: How to Effectively Crowdsource Content Creation Across Your Organization

Content marketers are under immense pressure to consistently produce a high volume of quality, engaging content. With 70% of marketers actively investing in content marketing (CMI, 2020), the competition for audience attention has never been fiercer.

One of the biggest challenges is coming up with enough fresh ideas to keep the content engine humming. 60% of marketers say producing engaging content is their top challenge (CMI, 2020).

Luckily, there‘s an often untapped goldmine of content ideas and insights right under your nose – your company‘s own employees! By crowdsourcing content from across the organization, you can generate more and better content while also reaping a host of other benefits.

What is Crowdsourced Content Creation?

Crowdsourced content creation is the practice of sourcing ideas, information, and creative contributions for content from people beyond your content or marketing team. It‘s about tapping into the collective knowledge, experiences, and perspectives of your entire workforce to fuel content development.

Think of your employees as an extension of your content team. From executives to salespeople to product designers, everyone has unique insights that can educate and engage your audience. Their expertise and stories bring authenticity and credibility that makes your content stand out.

The Business Case for Crowdsourcing Content

Still not sure if content crowdsourcing is worth the effort? Consider these compelling benefits:

  • Showcase thought leadership: Featuring your internal subject matter experts establishes your brand as an industry authority and resource.

  • Create more authentic, diverse content: Employees‘ real experiences and unique points of view make content feel genuine and relatable.

  • Expand your content scope: Harness knowledge about different specialties, customer needs, industry trends, and more to cover new ground.

  • Produce more content, faster: Many hands make light work. Leverage more people and ideas to increase content quality and quantity.

  • Improve employee engagement: Inviting employees to contribute gives them a voice and stake in your success. It can boost morale and advocacy.

  • Build a content culture: Crowdsourcing gets the whole company thinking about content and stories to tell. This "always-on" ideation mentality is powerful.

Research shows that companies with engaged employees outperform competitors by 202% (Gallup, 2017). Content crowdsourcing helps unlock that engagement while providing the authentic, trusted content audiences crave.

Best Practices for Crowdsourcing Content

Sold on the benefits but not sure where to start? Here are best practices and tips to set your crowdsourced content program up for success:

1. Articulate the ‘Why‘ and the Value

Clearly communicate the purpose and importance of your crowdsourcing initiative to motivate employees to participate. Spell out "what‘s in it for them," both personally and for the business.

Examples of benefits to employees:

  • Boost their professional reputation by showcasing expertise
  • Expand their influence by reaching a larger audience
  • Opportunity for recognition from peers and leadership
  • Avenue for exploring interests and building skills

Selling points for the business:

  • Positions [Company] as a thought leader in [Industry]
  • Helps Marketing attract qualified leads and retain customers
  • Enables Sales to nurture prospects and close deals faster
  • Supports recruiting efforts and employer branding
  • Drives cost-savings compared to outsourced content

2. Make Participation Easy and Frictionless

The easier you make it for employees to contribute, the more content you‘ll get. Eliminate barriers by providing multiple channels and formats for people to share their ideas and insights.

Recommended ways to collect input:

  • Virtual brainstorm sessions: Host focused ideation meetings via video chat to generate story angles, hooks, and examples
  • Online submissions: Set up a simple web form or shared document for employees to submit content ideas anytime
  • Interviews: Schedule one-on-one chats or small roundtables to hear from and capture experts‘ knowledge
  • Slack channel: Invite people to share interesting news, trends, stats or stories in a dedicated chat channel
  • Content contests: Run periodic themed contests that challenge people to come up with creative content ideas for prizes
  • "Overheard" collection: Encourage staff to send you snippets of interesting customer/prospect convos they have

The more closely these activities match employees‘ existing habits and workflows, the more likely they are to contribute.

3. Guide the Process with Prompts

Some employees may want to contribute but aren‘t sure what you‘re looking for. Others may suffer from writer‘s block or doubt their own expertise.

You can grease the wheels by providing thought-starters, guiding questions, and content idea buckets. This could include:

  • Seasonal trends or events relevant to your industry or audience
  • Common customer pain points, questions or misconceptions
  • Employees‘ predictions about the future of your market
  • Behind-the-scenes looks at new product development
  • Reactions to industry news or thought-provoking articles
  • Myth-busting about your category or solutions
  • Employee stories showcasing your culture and values

The key is sparking people‘s creativity while making the process as painless and low-pressure as possible.

4. Give Lots of Encouragement and Recognition

Celebrate the people who contribute to your crowdsourcing efforts early and often. The more vocal and visible your appreciation, the more motivation people will have to keep the ideas flowing.

Ways to recognize employee content contributions:

  • Public kudos in all-company meetings or emails
  • Featuring contributor quotes and bios on published content
  • Leaderboards or badges for top/frequent contributors
  • Prizes like gift cards, free lunches or PTO
  • Donations to employees‘ charity of choice
  • Performance review callouts and bonuses

Gamifying the crowdsourcing experience with levels and rewards can stimulate ongoing participation and some friendly competition. So can setting team or department goals around content idea submissions.

5. Organize and Amplify Insights

To get maximum mileage from crowdsourced insights, it‘s important to have a system for collecting, organizing and applying them.

Start by designating a central person or small team to be the "keepers" of crowdsourced content. They‘ll be responsible for reviewing all ideas submitted and triaging them for use.

Use a tool like Google Forms, Airtable or Asana to capture and tag content ideas, interviews, and creative assets. This allows you to easily sort and prioritize them based on your editorial calendar needs.

A searchable knowledge base like Guru or Bloomfire is also handy for storing and rounding up in-house expertise on different topics over time. Whenever you need to create content on a given subject, you can see who‘s already shared relevant information or ideas.

Consider different ways you can repackage and repurpose crowdsourced content for maximum impact and reach. The same insight could fuel a tweet thread, newsletter, video, podcast episode or event theme. Stretch those insights!

Crowdsourcing Campaign Ideas

Need some inspiration for types of content you could crowdsource across your organization? Here are a few thought-starters:

Content Type Description Crowdsourcing Approach
Employee Spotlights Highlight stand-out employees‘ career journeys, passions and accomplishments Peer nominations, video interviews
Expertise Round-Ups Gather insights on a hot topic from internal experts in different roles Short email questionnaires, roundtable discussions
Customer Success Stories Source impactful customer experiences that show your product or service‘s value Account manager interviews, customer call snippets
Myth-Busting Series Identify and debunk common misconceptions about your industry or offer Survey sales and service on objection patterns
User-Generated Content Encourage employees to create content showcasing your culture and workplace Social media contests, takeover days, Slack challenges
Trend Reaction Articles Get employee takes on new industry developments and what they mean News commentary prompts, online group discussions
Leadership Lessons Executives and managers share stories and advice on career and company growth Video interviews, quote round-ups, ghostwritten articles

Let your business goals and employees‘ natural interests lead the way. Keep an open mind and experiment to see what resonates.

Getting Started with Employee-Sourced Content

Now that you‘ve got a solid grasp on crowdsourced content strategy and tactics, it‘s time to put them into action. But you can‘t expect employees to go from 0 to 60 without some guidance and structure.

Here‘s a simple step-by-step process to get you going:

  1. Define ownership and goals. Decide who will lead the program and what you want to achieve in terms of content output and engagement.

  2. Identify key internal experts. Make a list of the people within your company who have the most unique perspectives and outside influence.

  3. Create your idea capture system. Set up the tools and processes you‘ll use for collecting and organizing content ideas and assets.

  4. Announce the initiative. Share your vision for crowdsourced content with employees, including expectations, benefits and incentives.

  5. Do focused outreach. Reach out to the experts you identified for 1:1 conversations to pick their brains and get their creative juices flowing.

  6. Coordinate first content projects. Get some early wins by rallying employee contributors around specific content campaigns that excite them.

  7. Review performance and celebrate. Share out the results of your initial crowdsourcing efforts and recognize employee participants.

  8. Scale what works. Double down on the content formats and tactics that gain the most traction to grow your program over time.

Focus first on doing a few things well vs. trying to boil the ocean. As employees see crowdsourced content in action and reap the rewards of contributing, you‘ll build unstoppable momentum.

Crowdsourced Content, Massive Impact

Your employees are your greatest untapped content asset. They have the expertise, experiences, and perspectives to help your content stand out and succeed. It‘s just a matter of giving them the opportunity and incentive to share their insights.

By putting the strategies, tactics, and examples laid out here into play, you can build a culture and engine of crowdsourced content that powers your marketing to new heights. Not only will you generate a higher quality and quantity of content, but you‘ll boost employee engagement and advocacy in the process.

So what are you waiting for? Start mobilizing those employee content troops today. You can thank me later when you‘re swimming in a sea of amazing crowdsourced content.