Imagine receiving a birthday card from your mom. It’s written in third person — and not as a joke. “Mary wishes you a wonderful day. She wants you to celebrate the day of your birth.” It’s signed in one of those faux handwriting fonts that don’t fool anyone into believing you actually signed it yourself. With resignation, you tell yourself that at least it isn’t Comic Sans.
It feels weird, impersonal, and cold.
Now, transfer your reaction to this imaginary touchpoint between you and your mom to the actual touchpoints between your brand and your audience. Your audience hears tons about your organization from top to bottom, all thanks to the hard work your marketing team puts into your content distribution strategy.
But your audience never hears from you as a leader; you’re just a nameless, faceless founder barricaded behind a frosted glass door. That impersonal image won’t help you build better relationships, knock down trust barriers, or become a leader in your industry.
Without playing an active role in your company’s content distribution, you miss out on valuable connections with your audience. And isn’t that kind of the goal with content in the first place?
Tear off the mask; learn from the Musk
Even in a time when humans aimlessly walk along the street with our noses buried in our smartphones, people still want to do business with people. I might even argue that it’s exactly because we’re so digitally plugged in that personal connection is even more important.
These personal connections with your audience are often built through your brand’s content; however, it’s not enough for senior leaders and executives to direct their marketing teams to distribute content without sharing it themselves.
In addition to the clear relationship-building advantages you stand to gain by sharing your own content, distributing content through an account outside of your company’s official ones gives you a valuable opportunity to expand the reach of your content.
Take me and my company, Influence & Co., for example. At the time of this writing, Influence & Co. had around 41,000 followers on Twitter. We use content — whether it’s authored by me, my co-founder, or another thought leader on our team — to engage those followers every day. But if we stopped there, we’d be missing out on our chance to reach even more of our audience through my personal account, which has earned a following of more than 116,000 — nearly three times as many as our company account.
On a larger scale, look at Elon Musk and his companies, SpaceX and Tesla. SpaceX, which has 3.85 million followers, and Tesla, with 1.48 million, each share relevant articles, photos, videos, and other content with their audiences through their accounts, and that’s great. But Musk, who’s nearing 10 million followers, has the potential to reach even more of his audience when he shares company content through his own personal account.
3 simple ways to share your own content
You don’t have to enjoy Musk’s larger-than-life reputation to get content traction, improve your distribution, and increase audience engagement. All it takes are the right distribution tools and a few simple starting points:
1. Develop and stick to a social schedule.
The first step in getting started is to literally just begin sharing content. I know it sounds simple, but you might be surprised by how many company leaders leave their accounts untouched after the initial post-sign-up spike in activity.
Work with your marketing team to develop a social distribution plan, and get yourself into the habit of setting aside a little time each day to maintain your accounts. When content you’ve bylined goes live, share the article. Did you win an award? Are you attending an industry conference? Share that news, too, and use some free social media tools to help. It’s a small step, but it’s one of the most important if you want your content to reach its potential.
2. Use your LinkedIn account.
If you’re a business leader, you probably already have a LinkedIn account, but are you using its publishing feature? Many leaders forget that LinkedIn is more than just another platform to share, like, and comment on content; it’s actually an effective place to publish new content, repost already-published content, and continue engaging an audience.
So rather than share a link to an article on LinkedIn, take advantage of its publishing feature to actually repost your entire article through its platform. Whether it’s an article you wrote for an external publication or something you wrote for your company blog, publish it to LinkedIn to reach new audiences and engage your existing connections. And don’t forget to follow the best practices for publishing to LinkedIn to make sure you’re using it to its fullest.
3. Forget about boring templates.
As a leader, you’ve probably built a solid network of your own contacts over the years. While I’m sure plenty of them are on some form of social media, there’s power in individual emails sent to the right people in your network.
I know that some people love templates. They’re easy to use, and they can save you time. Just select it, send it, and forget it, right? Wrong. People (especially your personal connections) can tell when you’re BSing them and not being genuine. Sending a standard templated email for the sake of sharing your own content isn’t going to help you.
Instead, customize and personalize your general email outlines, and be selective when it comes to which content you send to which contacts. Be innovative with subject lines, and opt for humor when appropriate. I’ve gotten plenty of tough-to-reach people to respond to my emails and phone calls with messages that elicited laughs or struck the right emotional chords rather than made them feel cornered.
If your company has budgeted for content, you need to play a role in making sure that investment is worth it. Don’t saddle your marketing team with the full responsibility and let your audience members feel like your company has sent them the equivalent of an impersonal birthday card from their mom. Your prospects, clients, and partners don’t want to feel like they’re one of a million but like they’re one in a million. Distribute content to build that connection and expand your reach.