By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.
Matthew Stormoen’s company called Mobibi has created a crowdsourcing-type of content system or platform to help entrepreneurs get noticed. They use technology to empower your employees to create content, share important company news, and, more importantly, be engaged in the mission of your business.
Joining me from Santa Monica, California, he talked more about how his company does that in the newest episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.
The Whole Company as a Marketing Team
One of the challenges for many companies is that they talk about their vision and embed that onto their team; then they have a marketing manager or people — in charge of being custodians of that vision online — who are kind of being swamped with that task.
As he discussed how he helps businesses become an army or a whole marketing team of sorts, Matthew shared a little backstory.
He spent 15 years running a digital agency. He has a lot of experience working with those in charge of marketing operations within different companies. One of the biggest things that he noticed is that in content creation (whether it’s a blog, a video, or a social post), it’s typically relegated to one person or a small team. This leads to your content tending to take on a limited point of view.
If you look at brands, startups, and entrepreneurs on social media, they’re very good at one thing or at a small niche. What happens is that after six to 12 months, the same message comes out over and over and over again. This is why you see engagements decline. The follower growth stalls because one person has a limited perspective.
The idea with Mobibi is that they want to collect content from the entire organisation — content with different points of view, with a diversity of voice. When you start publishing that kind of content, it doesn’t only engage your audience with new ideas and concepts, but it also gets your entire staff thinking: How do I grow this business?
Now, instead of having three people thinking about that, you’ve got 25 or 50 people doing that. It’s a multiplier and you can get your business an amplification army.
Many companies, especially those bigger ones with shareholders, are terrified about what gets said by their people that might not be compliant in some way. And it’s a common concern that Mobibi addresses right away.
Their technology has user roles and permissions. Employees who will join their program on behalf of your company are called contributors — they’re contributing content to be reviewed, approved, or rejected. Nothing from a contributor can be published without a manager hitting the approve button.
In relation to this concern, Matthew pointed out that a lot of companies make a big mistake thinking that they have to stay right in a specific brand lane; they can’t deviate from a message, a concept, or a design. This is why he challenges companies to focus on their audience and target market — those who’d say if their brand is right — other than delving into political and other issues that are not to be touched.
Typically, companies get a brand manager that comes in and says, “This is our brand. This is what we’re going to be.” This entails dictating hundreds of thousands of customers. Matthew asks companies to flip this convention and send a bunch of different messages and then see what resonates with the customers.
The challenge now, however, is that generating crowdsourced content under some degree of control can create a large bottleneck for whoever it is that has to approve content.
Matthew acknowledged that Artificial Intelligence (AI) still hasn’t come to a point where it can actually understand the subtleties of content. In their platform, they do use some AI that performs text analysis. It’s a tool from Amazon called Comprehend. Through it, managers can efficiently scan content, look for flags, and search for certain words.
He also pointed out that at the basic level, your company’s employees, in general, should all be gearing towards promoting your business — especially if you’re a startup — because their employment is at stake. What Mobibi gives is not the ability for your audience to create content but for your employees to do so.
How Mobibi Works
The starting point when using Mobibi is the so-called brand channel.
Mobibi has a mobile app. And it harks back to the old days of client-server relationships, wherein you have your server and all these nodes connected.
If you have 50 employees and you sign up for the Mobibi platform and every employee downloads the app, they’ll have a content creation tool in their hand. If they see an article or if they have a thought or an idea, they can simply open the app, type that in, indicate where they’d like to send it, and then submit. That will be their contribution.
When your manager comes in and they look at the platform, they’ll already see, for example, 25 ideas.
If you will be that person, you don’t even have to think of 25 ideas. It’d be the best editorial job imaginable. If you’re publishing even just one tweet per day (which means 365 tweets per year), a lot of creativity is already put on one person only.
Today, many companies are resorting to AI to create content. And there’s a danger in the sense that it’s becoming more kind of anodyne — there really isn’t much personality to it because it’s created by AI that’s not invested in your business. With Mobibi, Matthew and company are exploring a whole new source of contribution from people who are going to have different yet relevant perspectives about the business.
Matthew then related it to how he, as an automotive enthusiast (with Audi as one of the brands that he likes), would love to hear from someone in Audi’s engineering team about some advancements they made — instead of some information about a summer event that they’re holding.
If you use the Mobibi platform and empower people in different units within your business, you’re getting different perspectives and content. And what this does to your customers, partners, and other members of your staff is provide them with a 360-degree view of your business.
Motivating Employees to Create Content
When Matthew and company started creating Mobibi, one of the issues that they immediately thought about is how to motivate someone to create content when it’s not their job to do so.
Looking back in his career, Matthew shared that there was one company that had a loyalty program based on performance. They offer a magazine and products and you can only get the products and other gifts by using points that you get from the magazine.
Around 15 to 20 years later, he still remembers that program from that organisation. With that said, he mentioned that for Mobibi, they’ve built a point system. They employed gamification and they have leaderboards.
There are two things that you can get from this one. One, you get the desire to compete together with your employees and get that natural camaraderie. The second is that it allows you to offer small gifts to the winner of the month or quarter.
From an organisational standpoint, you’re not just getting great content to drive your demand generation, but you’re also actually getting your employees excited about doing it. And this is the power of the platform: It’s not just about sales and revenue. It’s getting your employees engaged about your mission as a company.
Sharing Company Content
The reason they call their users contributors is, because, on the flip side of them creating content to publish on the brand channel, they can also add their personal social media. This way, the brand channel can send out content that they can also publish on their own socials.
For instance, when your company is recruiting, typically, the human resources (HR) department will create a separate campaign. The campaign would say anyone who brings a new recruit gets $500, then the HR department would provide a recruiting message.
Through Mobibi, your employees can add their personal social media accounts. Then, your brand can send them recruiting collateral that they can publish on their account (for example, on their personal LinkedIn). You can also do it at scale because you could have a hundred people on your brand channel.
With this, you’re not only promoting from a brand point — you’re also promoting from a personal, employee level. Mobibi also has a tracking feature to help you monitor which employees published your content, where it was published, and whether the people who signed up or sent their applications came from that post.
This personal level of promotion is powerful because, today, it’s the accounts of Chief Executive Officers and other individual employees that are followed and not the corporate pages. In platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn, it’s the individual network where the content is getting engagement.
This makes sense because why would people follow corporate channels if they only publish the same kind of content. They’re simply promoting their products. And these are what corporations are told to advertise, as opposed to what the company’s mission is or what the contextual relationship between their company and their partners, for example, is. Because, today, it’s also essential to talk not just to end customers but to partners as well because the supply chain is mission-critical. There are many companies recently, in fact, who have had their supply chains disrupted.
Sticking to Brand Guidelines
Businesses have their brand guidelines. For instance, logos must appear on the left or the right. There’s also an element wherein some people got a high-quality phone camera; some have a low one. Some might also be posting poor infographics and some are not.
How does Mobibi address quality, consistency, and balance?
When talking about point systems and gamification, Matthew stated that it’s all about the interactions within the system. For instance, your approval rate. It could be that out of 50 ideas, only one gets approved. While it’s a terrible approval rate, it’ll be immediately apparent if someone among your contributors is not qualified to be doing content creation.
Matthew also emphasised how incredibly important brand guidelines are. Many of us have become a little bit cynical of our brands and just how clearly crafted the messages are — to the point that we don’t even understand who the brand is anymore. This is why today, many businesses sound the same.
If you look back at breakout brands such as the Dollar Shave Club, who did weird commercial videos with bears, back then someone might have said that it’s not brand-appropriate. But in five years, they were able to sell the razor company for a billion dollars to Unilever.
This goes to show that as a marketer and as a company leader, you have to break out of the box that everybody’s playing in. If you want to grow your business and capitalise on a market, some risk is required. And the higher you go, the more understanding you get of that risk.
On Pricing and Promotion
Most Software as a Service (SaaS) companies today charge a per-user basis. According to Matthew, this poses a terrible problem because it means that you and your assistant could be paying the same cost.
The packages that they created at Mobibi range anywhere from $49 to north of $500, depending on how many contributors you want. You can have, for instance, one manager and five contributors for under $100.
When asked about how they get Mobibi noticed, Matthew mentioned that the process of finding people and reaching out to them is a very manual one. And it depends on the stage of growth that you’re in.
Unless you’re venture capital-backed, it’s very hard to be bootstrapped and profitable if you’re paying for your leads. This is why he advised leveraging all the free tools and generating content upon content upon content.
The typical idea is that you can only post one tweet per day. But if you refresh your Twitter feed, you’ll see how many tweets come in. There is nothing wrong with posting three tweets a day.
In fact, when clients have used Mobibi and enabled this contributor concept, they’ve ramped up their publishing by around 200% and it’s paid off in spades. And it’s because they’re getting much more inbound marketing content that’s going out in different channels.
Matthew and his team at Mobibi addresses a real problem by getting the whole team to contribute to what the company is doing and share content. This concept of content creation can raise enthusiasm and creativity from the organisation.
This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.