Content creators may be well versed in a topic, but they are rarely experts on the subject.
And experts on a topic are often not the most proficient at content creators.
So what do you do when you need to create content with relevant, accurate, and detailed information on topics for which you lack expertise?
You partner with people who are experts in the subject. Working with subject matter experts helps in a number of ways. First, SMEs help content creators understand and explain topics in depth. Second, SMEs give their content credibility and can help promote it on their networks.
But incorporating SMEs into your content creation process isn’t always easy. To do that, you need:
- Find and test experts inside or outside your organization
- Earn their cooperation
- Involve them in the content creation process yours
The preparation and organization has come a long way. Try the following suggestions to refine each stage of the process for SME-input (not SME-generated) content.
The subject matter experts have built a reputation for #ContentMarketing. But they are not always easy to find or work with. Try these tips from @AnnGynn for a smoother process via @CMIContent. Click to Tweet
Table of Contents
Find right SME
You can find quality subject matter experts inside and outside your organization. Each type can add value to your content. Just make sure to understand the pros and cons associated with each option.
You can quickly identify some SMEs by their position or title in your company. But don’t stop at executives and team leaders. Ask a colleague, “If you had a question about , who in this company would you ask? ”
Advantage: Content mentioned SME’s Profile and strengthen your company’s expertise on the subject. These small and medium businesses don’t need any background knowledge of what your company does (although they may need a bit of your knowledge). target or content.) They are also more likely to cooperate with requests related to your content because it is all in the interest of your overall employer.
Defect: Your audience may be skeptical of insights from the small and medium businesses working for your company. And, in some cases, internal politics may require the content team to work with an “expert” which is not the best option. SME engagement in content is often outside the scope of their work, so their contribution sits above all of their usual work.
TIP: Don’t rely solely on company profiles when looking for an SME. Look up their digital profiles – look at what they’re talking about, what others are saying about their work, and where their expertise has been featured.
Don’t rely solely on headlines when searching for SME’s for your #ContentMarketing. Ask a colleague, “Who do you go to when you have questions about this topic?” say @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click to Tweet
Working with an SME outside of your organization will expand your source pool to more experts on your topics. You can find them in a number of ways:
- Identify people who have presented, interviewed, or written on the topic on their own platforms, at conferences, on social media, etc.
- Use source services like HARO , ProfNet , Help B2B Writer etc
- Explore resources at academic institutions. You can contact professors directly or work with a university or college communications officer.
- Visit online communities like Reddit or other topic-focused forums.
Advantage: Audiences consider the insight from external SME businesses to be more objective and trustworthy because they don’t work for your company. An external search may also lead you to someone who specializes in a subtopic that your internal contacts don’t cover.
Defect: Identifying sources outside of your company usually takes longer (and they may be less likely to agree to your request). If you get feedback through a source service, make sure they’re exactly what they say – and they’re the experts you think they are.
Earn their cooperation
With your SME businesses identified, it’s time to ask for their help. Before reaching out, prepare yourself to receive a yes:
- Introduce yourself. Explain your content creation role (and who you work for when approaching an outside SME). Limit this sentence to one or two sentences.
- Explain why you are contacting them. Briefly detail why you’re contacting them and explain the platform on which the content will appear: “We like to include expert insights in an article for our email newsletter, sent to 200,000 marketers. ”
- Let them know what you are asking for. Explain the specifics of your pieces of content and how you want them to engage: “I want to ask a few questions about what you consider the most important metric now and in five years. I will include your comments in an analysis article. ”
- Invite them to ask questions . Encourage them to ask questions that show you see this as more than just a transactional relationship: “I would be happy to answer any of your questions about the interview or project details.”
- Define the modes to connect . Don’t dictate the interview form unless the content type (i.e. video) requires it. Give them several options and time frames: “We can do” interview in a 30-minute by phone or by email, whichever you prefer. ”
- Explain next steps. This is your call to action. Let them know how to accept your request and be sure to mention the deadline you are facing. “Please let me know if you are willing to help with this article. I can send you questions or we can arrange a time to talk. I need to finish this article in the next two weeks. Thank you for your time.”
TIP: Don’t make promises that you can’t keep or you risk damaging the SME relationship. For example, don’t give SME a chance to approve content if it’s your company’s policy to only allow them to review excerpts where they’re mentioned or cited.
TIP: If you are asking the SME to create content themselves, mention in your request that the content will be edited by a member of the content team for style and to help the audience understand.
Content creation process work
Factor in your SME engagement right from the start content planning process . The use of SMEs – internal or external – often prolongs the time it takes to create content and, in some cases, review process .
Planning how to use SME inputs
You can only include their comments in single blog posts. However, if it is an SME that is difficult to reach or has a reputation, you may want to take advantage of this opportunity to create pillar content . In that case, your question will have a broader scope than your question for an article. Or you might want to do both a blog post and a video, which requires making sure they’re willing to do a camera interview. You can also ask them about their ideas for the future content topic .
TIP: With the permission of the SME, record the interview. Even if you don’t plan to use it in video or audio format, the recording can be transcribed to complement your notes.
Prepare your questions and conduct the interview
Remember that you are a content creation expert, not an expert on the subject. You just need to be provided with enough information (about the topic and experts) to ask the necessary questions. Listen carefully to their answers and be ready to ask relevant follow-up questions. If you don’t understand something, ask them to explain.
When you conclude, ask an open-ended question, such as: “Is there anything we haven’t covered that you think would be helpful to our audience? ”
TIP: You can ask a question even if you know the answer (or the answer is simple.) That’s your job – to find out how the expert interprets the answer. Finally, their quote will appear in the content.
TIP: Ask SMEs about their preferred social practices so your company can recognize and drive their engagement on the internet. social media.
Write and rate
Use SME best answers in your articles, videos, or audio content – you don’t have to include everything. People don’t want to sit through the entire interview. They want the most relevant elements to come from it.
If you have consented to SME review of content before it is published, email it (so you’ll have a record within reach) including a comment deadline: “Again, Thank you for sharing your great details. We will publish the blog post on July 1st. If you have any suggested changes, please send them to me by June 28.” In this case, you are not asking for SME approval. content – you are just giving them the option to suggest changes.
If you do not receive a response, send a reminder a day or two before the SME entry deadline.
In some cases, you may not accept their proposed changes. If it’s just a styling or other small change, you may not need to track them. However, if they suggest a more significant change that you don’t plan to make, follow up to let them know and explain why you didn’t make the change.
Remember to thank them
Once published, send a thank-you note with a link to the content. If this SME partnership works out well, let them know you’d like to stay in touch (and follow up over the next few months).
Become an expert in small and medium enterprises
Develop an organized approach to working with SMEs, from identification, outreach to content creation. The more you do, the more you can refine the process to work better (and easier) for you and your brand. And that’s when you become an expert in small and medium businesses.
All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to recommend, feel free to add it in the comments.
Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute