14 Ways to Leverage In-House Experts for Branding, Influence & Links

pai-meiMost companies have people on staff with superior knowledge of a particular niche or industry. We call these folks “experts.”

These in-house experts are often untapped assets that PR, media relations, content strategists, SEOs and marketing departments should be leveraging to net authoritative links, social engagement signals, brand mentions and position the company as the authority in their niche.

If you have experts in-house, here are 14 tactics you can leverage to showcase their prowess for the greater good of your organization.

1. Speaking Engagements

Landing speaking gigs at conferences for your in-house experts is a high ROI activity, as it helps build brand awareness and influence for your company within a particular industry. Speaking at conferences often generate leads as well.

As for link building opportunities, most conference sites post speaker bios that you can liberally pepper with links to deep pages your site. This post gives some excellent advice from conference circuit veterans on how to land speaking gigs.

2. Publish Awesome Content

Nothing adds value to your site, positions you as a thought leader in your niche, sets you apart from competitor sites, and future-proofs your SEO like expert-level content. Harness the collective expertise within your organization and publish high-value content types, such as:

3. In-depth, Process-Driven Content

People crave expert-level “how-to” content…look no further than Q&A model sites like Yahoo Answers, Quora, and LinkedIn Answers for evidence of that.

4. Expert Tips and Tricks

“X tips on [your expert’s wheelhouse topic]” articles make for extremely click-worthy content.

5. Mail Bag, “Ask the Expert” Features

Like this. Great for building community engagement since users are submitting questions. You can also seed this feature with common questions your support or client services team gets asked consistently.

6. Authoritative Guides

Expert industry guides can be fantastic marketing and lead gen tools, as well as great fodder for your targeted outreach and promotion efforts.

7. White Papers

Your in-house subject matter experts can guide your research efforts and help raise the bar for your marketing materials

8. Group Interviews

Publishing group interviews on your site – like this, this and this – can help you build relationships, develop brand evangelists, and generate links and social engagement signals at scale. Make sure you include you own experts as well to show off their knowledge of your niche.

9. Expert video series

The Whiteboard Friday series are the gold standard for the inbound marketing community and a proven content model. So go with what works here and “borrow” this video format for your organization too.

Bottom line: Great content is the new normal, and essential if you want your site to be “rank-worthy.” Plus, if you’re doing targeted outreach, you need to arm your link outreach team with superlative content to pitch. Otherwise, you’re only setting them up to fail.

Finally, expert-level content is an evergreen asset. Each of the above content types can be re-purposed, re-packaged and turned into comprehensive kits, walled-off offers and a host of other lead-gen tools and/or industry resources to further maximize the benefits of your expert information.

10: Guest Post on Industry Journals and Publications

Most industry journals have pretty high editorial standards for contributed content. So $5 articles from Text Broker are unlikely to get published on these pubs.

This is where your in-house experts come in. Persuade them to carve out a few hours per month to pen the occasional article for high-profile industry journals to help boost the organization’s thought-leader status.

What’s more, links from industry journals are highly defensible, unlike the cheap and easy guest post bio links you’re getting from the “write for us” or “submit a guest post” sites.

11. Webinars

Online webinars can help generate traffic and leads as well as positive awareness for your brand. And having your in-house experts run or at least participate in Q&A portions of your webinars (audiences love interacting with an industry guru) only increases their value.

Attaching an expert presenter to your webinars also helps when pitching co-sponsored opportunities, which facilitate additional promotion and distribution opportunities, exposure to new audiences and links from the co-sponsors domain. For added exposure, publish your expert-run webinar slides on sites like SlideShare.

12. Media Placement Opportunities

Traditional PR coverage and interviews should be part of your marketing strategy for in-house experts.

Subscribing to a free service like Help a Reporter (HARO) gives you access to media outlets and journalists that are looking for expert input for articles and news stories. We’ve used HARO to get placement for clients in high-authority pubs like USA Today, PBS.org and Fortune, to name a few.

Even if your in-house expert is too shy to speak at conferences or doesn’t have the time to contribute content, HARO is a perfect way to leverage their expertise to build brand authority, links and exposure for your company without them having to step into the limelight.

13. Answer Questions on LinkedIn Groups

It’s not scalable, but participating in LinkedIn community groups and providing expert insight does drive leads and can generate relevant traffic and links for your organization.

14. Alumni News Links

Snagging alma mater news links for your in-house experts is probably one of the easiest .edu link building tactics (aside from employee/student discount links, which have been thoroughly abused following the JCPenney and Overstock.com outings).

I worked in the communications department at a local university for eight years, so I know firsthand that alumni associations are desperate for news items on former students, and will run just about anything. Look at a generic search operator like site:.edu “submit * alumni news” for proof that they “need news.”

The move here is to:

  • Find out where your experts went to school.
  • Get in touch with their alumni association. Note: typically there’s one at the university level (for all former students), and potentially one at the “school-level” for an alumnus of a particular discipline, ie the school of humanities or the nursing school, etc.).
  • Inform them of all the amazing things your company gurus been doing since graduating.

As an aside, this alumni news link building tactic works for everyone – not just experts – from company founder news, to announcing new hires, to pimping anything noteworthy an employee in your organization does to their alma mater.

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