Content — in the age of Google and Facebook –remains king. Any businessperson expecting to succeed on search and social media accepts the notion that achieving any kind of visibility for his/her firm’s products and services means content needs to be deployed, and this content must reach beyond traditional brochure or sales literature to appeal to the actual informational needs of the target audience.
Content Production/Distribution is Becoming Frictionless
“Expert” content — in the form of blog posts, social media posts, videos, or courseware — positions the marketer as an authority, building trust and brand affinity. Google especially rewards content its algorithms and human reviewers judge to be well-written, well-researched, and on point in terms of answering pragmatic questions posed by searchers.
Because the cost of content creation and distribution has dropped so steeply in the past decade — plus the fact that today’s audiences are conditioned to accept lower-production-quality content as long as it provides actual value — even the smallest business can afford to produce content that can differentiate it in the marketplace. In some industry niches, even a single instance of quality content – in the form of a video or long-form blog article – can “break the tie” among competitors vying for favorable treatment on the SERP.
But the “Human Factor” Can Be a Roadblock
At the same time, however, merely having the technical ability to produce quality content isn’t enough to ensure its production on a regular basis. Unless one is lucky enough to have the budget required to hire staff writers or freelance talent, one must rely on the willingness of internal subject matter experts to “step up” to create — or co-create — content.
Unfortunately, getting internal staff to commit to regularly producing quality content can be very difficult. Because it is rare that the content manager is senior enough on the org chart to compel such content production and content production duties are rarely written into the employee’s contract, the content manger is typically limited to gentle (or not so gentle) cajoling that may not be effective, especially if staff are busy or not comfortable with public speaking.
A Plan to Unlock Internal Expertise
One approach that may be effective toward securing organizational and individual buy-in for content production comes from Alexandra Morehouse, recently interviewed by Kevin Lee for the eMarketing Association. Ms. Morehouse is the CMO of Banner Health, a Phoenix, Arizona-based nonprofit healthcare provider that also functions as a network of physicians, each an expert in his/her own specialty. While the expertise represented by this network is enormous, unlocking it and deploying it in a way that benefits Banner Health’s SEO and social visibility takes special skill. Ms. Morehouse uses the following 4-stage model for unlocking this expertise.
- Research “hot topics” likely to gain online traction and map these topics to internal experts.
Using Google Analytics, Ms. Morehouse’s team determines which health topics are trending, estimates the approximate level of exposure that can be obtained by deploying content addressing this topic, and presents this opportunity to the internal subject matter expert.
- Use the interview format to make the expert comfortable.
To make the interviewee comfortable with the prospect of content co-creation, Ms. Morehouse’s team prepares a short list of questions that tap into the subject matter expert’s knowledge to address the discussion topic, and sends these questions to the interviewee for review prior to the interview.
- Show the interviewee what others have done.
Many brilliant people are camera-shy or believe that they lack the charisma to present well in an interview. Ms. Morehouse’s team alleviates these concerns by showing them examples of interviews that have been done in the past. As Ms. Morehouse notes, upon reviewing these interviews many indicate that they can perform as well.
- Make it clear to the interviewee that the interview will take less than 20 minutes.
Because her subject matter experts are very busy people, it’s important to make clear to them that the imposition on their time will be minimal (Ms. Morehouse advises that 20 minutes is a good figure to use in these discussions).
Being as specific as possible about your plan for co-creating content has benefited Ms. Morehouse’s content efforts and will create more compelling content. “We have found that if we boil it down to a formula and if (the subject matter experts) know that they’re not going to have to ad lib it… makes them much more likely to be spontaneous.”
You can view the entire interview between Kevin Lee and Alexandra Morehouse below.