Spotlight on Content: 5 Surefire Steps to Give Your Brand Experts a Voice

December 13, 2013by Dana Arnold

Content, content, content… the word itself echoes throughout the theatre of marketing. Content is the beating drum for brands that strive to convey thought leadership and position themselves as industry experts. Delivering a robust schedule of content relies on two parties – the subject matter experts (SME) who possess the knowledge and the teams of people to plan, edit and serve that content up.

Never before have we relied so heavily on the internal expertise of engineers, product developers, doctors, legal counselors and more. Consider the following when selecting and empowering this important group of content providers:

1. Create a vision. It’s difficult for an SME to say “yes” to the gig without actually knowing what they’re signing up for. Develop a plan for your content and how SMEs are critical to the success. Make it digestible with realistic timelines for someone to weave into their already very full-time job.

2. Find the right cast of characters. Great SME candidates have a few things in common: credibility within their subject matter, a passion for what they do and an ability to communicate their knowledge in relatable terms. It’s also a bonus to find people who have established networks, media connections and the ability to write and present. How many do you need? The size of the team relies solely on the content vision.

3. Develop the talent. Even the most gifted SMEs require training. Depending on your expectations of them – writing, speaking, social media outreach, media interviews, etc. – surround them with the proper training to succeed at the job.

4. Incentivize ongoing participation. Reward and recognition are the two best ways to motivate SMEs to consistently provide content and knowledge. Find ways to share their talents internally and externally. Bylines on articles, a photo and bio on the website and company-wide emails are all possibilities. For SMEs that need to go above and beyond the occasional interview or article, consider a more formal method of reward. Money, extra PTO days, bonus incentives and more could each be built into an SME program.

5. Foster the relationship. At least annually, reground your SMEs in the vision (possibly the training too). Let them know how their participation is impacting the business. Everyone wants to feel his or her efforts make a difference.

With your SME cast in place, your content program has the engine behind it to succeed.

How do you select and develop your own cadre of subject matter experts? Share your tips for empowering your SMEs in the comments.

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