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Rethinking thought leadership content

Adopt a progressive—read: organic—approach to content creation to identify and share insights from the experts across your organization.

Matt Lloren | December 1, 2015

Employees, especially those in professional services firms, hold valuable nuggets of insight about resolving client issues because they’re the ones working to help resolve those issues.

It can be argued that business issues are similar across organisations. However, what will always be unique is the approach and experience of resolving that business issue. I believe that each unique experience should be shared. But what is the best way to share this insight? I’ve got some thoughts…

Note: This piece is tailored around professional service firms, because I have worked in them for a number of years. That said, I believe that the ideas and approaches presented here also apply to different types of content marketing organisations.

A more progressive—and organic—approach to content

When it comes to content creation, more traditional organisations would form a project team to gather the “collective wisdom” of the firm and then create a consolidated point of view that supports the brand.

More progressive organisations will flip this model on its head. They’ll empower employees, especially frontline professionals, to share their experiences in a personal, simple, yet still brand-compliant way.

How to support organic thought leadership

One way to enable this progressive approach to thought leadership: Create a theme board.

Collaborate with content marketing professionals and a trusted subset of client-facing professionals to build a theme board that determines the themes that will distinguish the brand and support operational (inbound requests for more information, and ultimately sales, for example) and strategic goals (such as brand values, target markets and segments). For example, a theme might be “use client feedback to drive innovation for Millennial products.”

The theme group would also define a small set of core design principles to guide authors. For example: Content must be brand compliant, or LinkedIn and Twitter are the preferred content channels.

The organisation would then be trained, encouraged, and supported to create content aligned to the themes over a period of time, say six months or one year. As time progresses, different points of view will be created.

The content marketing team will periodically review employee content to see if there are any trends that could be repackaged into new content.

Tools and processes to support an organic content approach

  • Invest in a user-friendly content amplification platform. Either build your own platform, or use existing services, like LinkedIn Elevate or Dynamic Signal, that enable employees to post using different devices and across multiple channels.

  • Support the needs of different authors. Creating content is a challenge for most people. Some can’t physically create content due to a disability. Some can’t collect their thoughts in a logical way. Some people don't have time. Some like pictures more than words. Some just like to talk, not type. Some need spelling and grammar support. Some don’t use social media accounts. And, some are scared to put their name to a valid point of view. Services should be available to address these challenges.

  • Provide training. Whether in the form of a lunchtime briefing, formal course, or peer or manager coaching, training is important because the content created needs to be done so in a way that supports both brand values and individual professional development.

  • Drive a culture of contribution using KPIs. The goal should be to develop a culture where providing points of view on a client issue is as important as helping clients to resolve their problems. KPIs on content contribution can support this type of culture. KPIs will also guide the type of people an organisation hires to reinforce and mature the contribution culture.

Benefits of an organic content approach

  • Content doesn’t have to be long to be provocative or meaningful to the author’s audience
  • Content can be quickly created anywhere and reach a targeted global audience instantly
  • Content can be more authentic and, therefore, more believable—resulting in increased audience engagement

This post was originally published by the author on LinkedIn.

Matt Lloren is a customer engagement consultant in Slalom’s London office. He is passionate about helping organisations and customers build relationships that create value over time.


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