blog, bloggers, digital environment

You’re Sitting on a Blog Post Goldmine—You Just Don’t Know it Yet

By: Casie Shimansky, Social Media Manager, Talent Brand, Cisco

August 22, 2018

I often joke on our team calls for Cisco’s Talent Brand that we’re going to “schedule the entire year” when giving updates on the Life at Cisco blog—but now that I look at our calendar? That’s kind of what we’re doing!

On a mission to set the team up for success ahead of my honeymoon, I rolled right into scheduling through December 2018, with no plans to stop there.

Blogs have been around for a while, dating all the way back to 1994 (although the term “blog” wasn’t coined until 1997) – but what does it look like when they’re integrated into your whole digital ecosystem in 2018 with a small, versatile team?

I can help provide that picture.

According to ContentPlus, 60% of consumers feel engaged and positive with a brand after reading custom content on their blog—this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. We’ve heard from interns and full-time employees alike that they decided Cisco was the place to work for them after they read the stories our employees have shared on Life at Cisco.

Here’s how we took the blog from week-to-week to three months out:

Source content through social. We source an overwhelming majority of our content for the Life at Cisco blog through the @WeAreCisco social media channels. So what does that look like?

Casie Shimansky, Social Media Manager, Talent Brand, Cisco

Casie Shimansky, Social Media Manager, Talent Brand, Cisco

Our employees share their stories on social media and hashtag #WeAreCisco. Using this hashtag is something we started about three years ago as our tribe’s calling card. The Talent Brand team has constant eyes on this hashtag, and when we see a great image we’d like to use, we reach out and ask our fellow Cisconian for permission to share it further.

Instead of just re-sharing these images on our social channels, we reach out to employees who’ve posted compelling photos with a simple question that tends to take an image from social post to blog post.

Ask, “Can you tell us the story behind the image?” This one simple question—which we ask any time we request permission to use an image further—has been gold for us in terms of filling our content pipeline for the Life at Cisco blog. Every visual moment holds a story. All you have to do is ask for it.

Our team is comprised of writers, photographers and storytellers. We have a refined eye for knowing a potential story when we see one, but taking it that extra step and simply asking for what’s behind the photo wins us, on average, one to two blog topics a week.

Use contests to encourage your tribe to post. When you build it, they will come. Every February we run our annual #WeAreCisco #LoveWhereYouWork Contest. This contest was designed to encourage our employees to post on social and share why they love working at Cisco, but it’s also intended to prompt our employees to post the images we value the most.

What’s that got to do with blogging? The stories that come out of this contest and the images posted are powerful. Some of our most moving and authentic stories about why Cisco employees love where they work are shared in the five weeks this contest runs. Our 2018 contest produced 75 stories alone. And at two a week, that gave us 37.5 weeks of content.

Set your authors up for success. Most of our blog authors will tell you that they never considered themselves to be a writer, and so most of what I do in the beginning is to assure them that they absolutely have a story. Writing is scary even for writers. For non-writers, it’s sometimes impossible to see. So we do our best to set them up for success right off the bat.

I’m a master of templates. If I have to write anything twice, it becomes a template—and that includes our Life at Cisco blog guidelines, outline and the overall expectations we give our authors. All they have to do is “brain dump” their story to us like we’re at a coffee shop chatting about work and we’ve asked them, “Tell us about your day at work.”

We take care of the rest. From editing to scheduling, we try to make the storytelling experience fun for everyone, and we love seeing how happy employees are when their work is published and shared for all to see.

Determine the best organizational process for you and your team. This takes some trial and error, but develop a system that works for you. While I reach out and connect with potential authors and edit the blogs, I have teammates that assist with creating author credentials and scheduling the blogs in WordPress. We’ve worked hard on creating a system that works for us and that enables us to efficiently move forward in the process.

Have honest conversations here, and see what works best for you and your team.

For a time, I was getting multiple emails a week from contributors asking about when their blogs might be posted. Understanding their desire to know when posts would be shared, but not quite having the bandwidth to respond to them all, I created a Webex for Teams Space and invited all of our authors to join. In that space is an RSS feed of the Life at Cisco blog so that authors can see when their own blog post goes live as well as when other blogs go up. This drives interaction among authors.

While the space was initially designed to streamline the blogging process, it has since become a thriving, devoted and supportive community of ambassadors who cheer on their co-workers and champion their stories by sharing them on social media. The cherry on top of this sundae is that we’re also able to obtain feedback and source future contributors.

Start small, then keep going. Don’t try to schedule the whole year right away. Good things take time. We were scheduling week-to-week on the blog for the first year. We became more prolific at scheduling content after our first #LoveWhereYouWork contest and have never looked back. At no point did we say, “We’re scheduled three weeks out, guess we’ll take a break!”

Now, we work in “future time”—so I’m about three months ahead in thinking about what content and stories we might want to highlight on Life at Cisco. I’m even looking ahead to next year’s posts.

Find content for your first week or month, but don’t stop.

There’s another story out there to tell, you’ve just got to keep looking.

Follow Casie: @TheNameIsCasie

At The Social Shake-Up