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How to Use Your Colleagues for Expert Content

Blackboard showing the words 'Can't be an expert? Ask the expert.'

There’s nothing worse than empty content that clearly has no expertise behind it. Writers sure know a lot but we don’t know everything and certainly not in-depth.

For content that’s genuinely unique and genuinely helpful to your target audience, you need subject matter experts.

Within a business, there are experts on all parts of the customer experience. How the products are made, how to troubleshoot the app, how your business is making sustainable choices. And on and on.

How to put your subject matter experts to work

Usually, people love to hear that someone’s interested in their area of expertise. It’s getting the words down that’s difficult!

Your subject matter experts may never have even considered writing a blog or recording a video – so it’s your job to introduce the idea gently, gather their insane insights and turn it into a piece of expert content that sings out their knowledge and reflects them as a person.

1. Make a list of experts

Look around you: who’s super smart? What do they know? You won’t be 100% on what their particular expert subject is until you talk to them but we all know who the smarty pants is in the office.

Ask those people if they’d be OK with having a bit of a star turn – and feel out what kind of medium is going to suit them. Video is always a sticking point for people so it may help to be armed with an example of what you’d imagine that looking like.

The easiest way to get people to agree to video? Say you’ll just use their voice over other footage and you’ll edit every single umm and ahh out in post.

2. Collect expert content topics

Ask your subject matter experts what THEY think your customers should know. They may have always wished customers knew more about a certain product feature or wanted to help people avoid a pitfall in the industry.

3. Pick your first victim and subject, then interview

Go for your easiest target first, to get into the swing of things. Brainstorm a list of topics with them and pick their favourite.

Then it’s time for an interview. If your subject matter expert is comfortable with it, record the meeting. They might find it awkward for a bit but they’ll soon forget about it. The only reason I push this is that the more entire phrases you can use directly from their mouth, the better. It’s got to sound like them and it’s got to be super smart to cut the mustard.

During your interview, listen, ask questions and show absolute curiosity for their knowledge – recording the conversation leaves you free to engage. Once you’ve got them chatting about their pet topic, you’ll hopefully find it hard to get them to shut up!

4. Put together your story

Whether you’ve filmed your expert or just recorded their words, there’ll be some shuffling of insights to create a good story. Maybe a bit of industry jargon to translate.

Humans don’t tend to talk in a flow that makes sense outside of the conversation, so try to edit what you have into a format like PROBLEM > BACKGROUND > SOLUTION > ADVICE.

Remember: this is your expert’s piece of work. You’re just their ghostwriter. Use as many of their actual phrases as possible so it reflects them and their knowledge, not you.

5. Check-in with your subject matter experts

You think what you’ve written is good, but your subject matter expert is going to know how other experts will read it.

Give them the words to check through and then go through it with them in person.

Anything wrong? Anything that doesn’t sound like them? Take their suggestions very seriously because this piece of content represents them to other people in their field.

6. Get this searing piece of expert content out into the world

The best thing about using your expert’s knowledge, phrasing and byline is that they’ll be proud to share the content with their networks.

Publish the piece when your subject matter expert is confident about it, then ask for their advice on how you share it. More importantly: help them create posts for their own accounts so it reaches the best networks to get people talking. THIS is expert content.

Next: get the latest content marketing ideas in 2019.