“What’s in it for me?” When motivating your subject matter experts to create content, it’s time to look beyond leaderboards and financial incentives.
With their own objectives and targets to meet, your subject matter experts may need persuading that creating content is worth their time. Yet the key doesn’t lie with financial incentives. The best way is to appeal to their intrinsic motivations.
In this blog, we take a look at the five best motivators to get your subject matter experts on board and the best way to sell in and reward efforts (with compelling stats to help you convince and convert).
But remember, not every expert will be in a position to create their content - or want to - and that’s okay.
It’s best to start with people who already have great potential. There are 9 Stages of Employee Social Maturity, so look at who can be taken from a Networker to a Collaborator, an Enthusiast to a Thought Leader and a Thought Leader to an Influencer.
How To Motivate Your Subject Matter Experts To Create Content
If you’ve taken the time to select your experts carefully, this shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s likely they will already have an understanding of the benefits associated with being active on social media, however their motivations will depend on the individual.
They may have just one burning issue you should appeal to, or you may need to appeal to a few. Either way, here are five of the most compelling ways to get your experts onboard.
1. Grow Their Personal Brand And Network With Like-Minded Professionals And Influencers
Social media makes it so much easier to connect with, and learn from, peers and thought leaders across a large range of specialisms. Your experts can meet like-minded peers by joining relevant groups, following hashtags and looking for insightful comments on posts in their news feed. They can follow relevant external influencers and grab the attention of a thought leaders with just one comment on their post.
Both LinkedIn and Twitter are great places to build their personal brand and influence, and showing them other industry experts who are using the platform in this way is a great way to start. If they’re not already familiar with the platform we always find that you get a much better response when you show, not tell. Put together a presentation relevant to each type of expert, with screenshots and links to relevant discussions and opportunities taking place online.
Many experts would love the chance to become an influential thought-leader online but don’t know how. So consider asking them if they want to take part in a social influencer program. Again, it always helps to provide relevant examples to show what you can help them achieve.
2. Help To Improve Bottom Line Figures
A lot of the time, employees want to know they are making a difference and that the work they are doing contributes to the success of the business (this is especially true in companies that have a strong company culture). Explaining the benefits of their content creation and social sharing efforts, can be a sure-fire way to motivate engaged employees to share their expertise.
If you already have employees further along their journey to social enlightenment, use them as an example to show those at the start what can be achieved. Get them to connect and share their knowledge and experiences. As we know from our recent research report, people like to learn from people that have done it before!
And why not share some compelling stats (there are plenty out there, in fact we compiled a list here) for example; those with employee advocacy programs see 16% better win rates and a 48% increase in the size of their deals (Everyone Social) and 31% of high growth firms have a program in place (Hinge Marketing & Social Media Today study). Employee advocacy also results in a 20-25% ↑ productivity (LinkedIn).
Who wouldn’t want to be instrumental in driving this? Which brings us to...
3. Recognition From The C-Suite
Employee advocacy managers report into the C-Suite on key metrics such as the top content authors and sharers related to engagement and deals. They’ll also see trending posts in their own LinkedIn news feed (as will colleagues and peers), meaning their expertise will be recognised.
All of which means that employee experts often see an increase in their career development and progression - whether that be from the increased opportunities offered to them in their current organisation, or being headhunted due to their thought leadership.
4. Retain And Engage Their Best Team Members
When employees share values, it can improve employee engagement, motivation and even increase productivity by 36%. Communicating to your experts that their content and social presence can contribute to future colleagues can be a real motivator.
Prospective employees these days look at things like company culture, reviews on Glassdoor - they look to the experiences of others. Having a socially active and engaged workforce, who willingly share their stories of working for a business is a powerful way to attract talent.
Expert employees sharing their knowledge also appeals to those that have similar interests and skills - this can be hugely influential for candidates who want to work alongside like minded and respected colleagues,
Creating online content helps impart your expert’s knowledge further, creating more engaged, loyal and productive employees. In fact, socially engaged employees are 20% more likely to stay. And when social messaging is used internally, it reduces the total time taken to find content by 35% and raises overall productivity by 20-25% (see McKinsey).
5. Step Into Thought Leadership
This point really encompasses much of the above; many subject matter experts would like the opportunity to be seen as thought leaders but they don’t always know where to begin.
Thought-leadership pieces written by experts tend to be a lot more influential than those written by marketing where there has been little or no input from the subject matter expert.
The two parties are likely to have different goals; SME’s will want to share their expertise and opinions and are coming at it from a ‘what would I want to know if I were the reader?’ angle. Marketers simply don't have this perspective if they are not experts on a subject and are likely to create content that is focused more on selling the product or service.
Motivate employees to become thought leaders by giving them the freedom to do so and guidance on how to get started, introduce them to commentary blogging for example, where they can write short, snappy pieces that needn’t take much of their time, perhaps they’d prefer to start by posting an update on social media or writing an article on LinkedIn so it’s contained in their personal channel.
There are plenty of ways to get started, sometimes it’s just a case of identifying the right one.
And remember to stay away from leadership board gimmicks. The best-fit content creators will be motivated by rewards that enhance their careers or knowledge, or make them feel valued, such as:
- Exclusive social media masterclasses
- The C-Suite calling out best practice examples
- Invites to prestigious client/networking events
With the right selection strategy and a little encouragement , you can quickly build up a core team of subject matter content creators that will help drive their success as much as yours.