Webinar: Turn Your Employees’ Expertise into Thought Leadership, Part 1 of 6

Intro and Q&A, Part 1 of 2

Earlier in December, I did a webinar on “turning your employees’ expertise into thought leadership.” The webinar was sponsored by WebAttract—thought leaders in the webinar space—and hosted by Mike Agron. We were able to draw in a diverse audience of almost three hundred professionals who asked loads of great questions at the end of the webinar and whom I hope took away some valuable things about creating thought leadership that they can act on today. For those of you who didn’t attend the webinar, I’ll provide a quick summation and, hopefully, you’ll be able to take away action items on creating thought leadership as well. (BTW: I used my book, #CREATING THOUGHT LEADERS tweet, as a foundation for the information and ideas that I expanded on in the webinar. You can read more about the book and grab your own free eBook copy here.)

Here’s what I discussed in the webinar:

  1. What is thought leadership and why is it vital to your survival?
  2. The four core components of employee thought leadership.
  3. How to capitalize on the thought leadership funnel.
  4. How to jump-start and activate your employees’ influence today.

By doing this webinar I was practicing certain elements of H.E.L.P., which demonstrates the fact that you can (and should) take any event or activity as an opportunity to add value to your space and turn your expertise into thought leadership. In the case of this webinar, Mike and I were using each other’s platforms to help communicate a message in an effective way, to educate the marketplace, and to turn future advocates into advocates.

This post is the first in a six-part blog series; I will explore one of the above questions in each blog post. This post and the next one will be my answers to the Q&A session that we did during the last thirty minutes of the webinar. I know it’s a little unorthodox to begin this series with the answers to the Q&A but as the blog posts progress this week, I’ll cross-reference where appropriate so it’s not too confusing. (Click here if you’re interested in viewing the webinar. You can download the slide deck here.)

Like any live webinar, we were hoping for interaction at the end. That said, we had ten “canned” questions lined up (taken from actual questions captured during registration of what folks stated they wanted to learn) in case we didn’t get the interaction we wanted. Fortunately, the canned questions were not needed as we had more questions from the audience than we could address, even in thirty minutes. Please find all the questions and my answers below. I took the liberty of doing a quick copy edit of the questions (sorry, the publisher in me couldn’t help it).

If you like the answers and want to read more about thought leadership every day, you can continue the conversation at the Thought Leadership Best Practices Group on LinkedIn.

Looking forward to interacting with you. Connect with me at:

Mitchell Levy, Thought Leader Architect & CEO, THiNKaha

Q: “Thought Leadership Flow” might work.
A: This question is an answer to my question on what I should call the Thought Leadership Funnel [above]. Thought Leadership Flow is interesting. I’ve also been thinking about Customer-Driven Thought Leadership Geometric Model or Thought Leadership Advocate Funnel. The more I think about it, the more I’m excited about Thought Leadership Advocate Funnel. Not definitive yet. In answering the questions below, I’ll answer them in relation to the Thought Leadership Funnel.

Q: Can you elaborate on the “narrow space” in the funnel? What makes success or failure here?
A: The “narrow space” comment was used in relation to the definition of thought leader. Success is being able to reach and be recognized as a thought leader in six to eighteen months.

Q: You mentioned how eBooks are now “thirty-page PowerPoints”… Is this effective? Are the more interactive eBooks better?
A: Short answer on the effectiveness of eBooks that are thirty-page PowerPoints is yes. Longer answer is yes, but its effectiveness is based on where in the Thought Leadership Funnel the future advocate is. Each asset you use has more of less effectiveness at each level of the funnel.

Q: How can you get staff up and running to be thought leaders if they don’t have the writing skills or the imagination for content creation?
A: Baby steps. Thought leaders share the “appropriate content” with the audience they want to be “aware of who they are.” That content doesn’t have to be originated by them. Actually, I’ve heard people say that only twenty percent of the content needs to be originated and the rest can be aggregated or curated. That is much easier. As a firm, you need to ensure that the thought leader has access to relevant content that they can curate for their audience.

I’m a big fan of marketing finding and making relevant content feeds available. There are way too many to list. My favorite is ContentGems. I also spend time on Scoop.it and now that I’ve connected to a number of thought leaders, they are constantly supplying links and content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Please read http://bit.ly/t-l-b-p and you’ll have a thought leadership article you can share internally.

Marketing can also create and supply content for their employees (e.g. salesforce) to share. In addition to Microsoft’s Yammer, Jive.com, Salesforce’s Chatter, I’d suggest looking at the THiNKaha iTunes App, WittyParrot.com, and GaggleAmp.com.

Q: While we want to empower/enable our employees to become thought leaders, how do you suggest we ensure the content is edited and of quality?
A: There are two reasons to ask this question. 1) You are ensuring quality and integrity of content because you are obliged to do so by regulators in your industry (financial, insurance, pharmaceutical or healthcare) or 2) You don’t trust your employees to do the right thing. If it’s the latter, please note that it is important to allow your people to be authentic and real. If their answers and postings sound contrived, their efforts will have the opposite effect. To build trust and confidence, you need to create policy and educate those involved and how and what to do.

Please remember that it’s not only important to monitor what your employees’ share as content, but to monitor the conversation that your fans and followers are having on your social media channels. To get more insight, please look at the webinar and download the white paper created by Nexgate and shared via Hootsuite: http://blog.hootsuite.com/5-steps-social-media-compliance/, http://blog.hootsuite.com/nexgate-security-compliance/

Social media compliance is still at its infancy and there are many firms that play in this space. Check out: Nexgate, Hearsay Social, and iSocialSmart