One of the primary ways to become the “go to” resource in your niche market(s) outside of creating and self-publishing your own content to a professional blog is to collect and share interesting, relevant, and insightful content with your social connections and client/prospect email lists.
It’s extremely important to create your own unique content in order to establish yourself as a thought leader and build authority in your niche markets, but it’s also really important to find informative and relevant content to share. If you become proficient at this, your prospects and clients will come to rely on you as a resource for the content you create and the content you curate for their benefit.
These kinds of activities are what can set you apart as a thought leadership marketer in the age of social media.
The Benefits of Discovering and Collecting Great Content
In order to stay top of mind with clients and prospects, you must be consistently visible and valuable. If you can filter out all of that noise on the web and provide high quality insights and tips to your followers, eventually you will become a valued resource to your contacts. Remember, you want them listening and learning from you, not your competitors!
Sharing great content that you discover and adding your point of view is a powerful way to build online influence. By acting as a filter for your niche markets and contacts, you can save them time, money, and energy. You can teach them to follow and learn from you rather than going elsewhere to get their information by positioning yourself as the expert!
For example, I produce a weekly iTunes podcast (AdvisorGo Radio) with Zack Miller of Tradestreaming, and our podcast centers around timely “new media” topics that impact the financial advisor community. Not only do we share relevant news, stories, and information that we find across the web about growing a business in a wired world, but we add our own spin by inserting our personalities, commentary, ideas, and insights to everything that we cover.
What you will also find in the process of discovering and collecting content is that it will trigger many ideas for creating new content for your own content library that you can publish on your blog.
Taking interesting, relevant, and valuable content that you discover and offering your point of view on that content can help you become the expert in your niche. It shows that you are “in the know”.
Here are 4 Resources That Can Help You Build a Business Intelligence Program
Where do you find all of this great content and how can you filter through the bad to discover the good? There are some tools and resources that can make it easier for you, and they’re getting better everyday.
#1 Set Up a Google Reader Account
First and foremost, you must set up a Google Reader Account. Having a Google account is really your ticket these days to the social web, and to many free tools that can help you become a better marketer and get found online (i.e. Google Analytics, Google Places, Google+, etc.)
Google Reader is a tool that allows you to subscribe to unlimited blogs and websites across the web through an RSS Feed. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication“. How do you know if a blog or website has an RSS Feed? Look for the little orange button. They are everywhere. (you’ll see one in the navigation bar of this blog).
Once you have subscribed to a “FEED” in Google Reader, you can organize it into a folder. Anytime that any of the blogs or websites you have subscribed to are updated, Google will fetch it and put it into your Reader dashboard. Hence, you can comb through hundreds of articles quickly (my morning and evening routine).
hint: many of the social networks also provide FEEDS that enable you to subscribe to status updates and activity in your social streams through Google Reader
From directly within each article in your Google Reader, you can share to a number of your social networking sites and social bookmarking sites. In some cases you may have to set up a custom share.
To watch a quick screencast tutorial I did recently on the Wired Advisor Academy showing how to use Google Reader as a Business Intelligence Dashboard, CLICK HERE.
#2 Frequent Content Aggregation Sites and Communities
Content aggregation sites are extremely popular. Some are editorial driven and some are not. Subscribing to the RSS feeds of these communities can be a bit overwhelming given the sheer volume of content they produce, however, in most cases you can subscribe to the specific FEED category that interests you when you view the subscription options.
Two sites that are invaluable for finding great content are Technorati and Alltop.
Technorati is considered to be THE authority on blogs. Find the most popular blogs on the web for any category!
Alltop is essentially an “online magazine rack”. You can find content based on topic searches and even build your own Alltop Page.
Here are a some additional examples of sites with lots of content:
Techcrunch – All thing tech
Huffington Post – Billed as “The Internet Newspaper” with News, Blogs, Videos, and Community
Smart Brief – Awesome industry-based newsletters (one of my favorite resources)
Mashable – All things Social Media
Seeking Alpha – Investment news and strategy
Business Insider – Business news galore
American Express Open Forum – A resource for small businesses
Forbes – Business, Entrepreneurship, Leadership
There are many more aggregate sites out there, you just need to do a bit of research to find the ones for your niche. Technorati (mentioned above) is a great place to start. Also, Google Blog Search can help you uncover some niche blogs that may not be as popular but still have very high quality content!
#3 Review Content on Social Networks
The majority of tweets on Twitter contain links to content on the web. By creating Twitter lists, you can follow the people and brands that are relevant to your industry and filter out interesting and informative content to share with your networks. In fact, the only way I utilize Twitter today is through the “smart” lists that I’ve constructed. Otherwise it’s like drinking from a firehose!
Here’s a tutorial on How to Create a Twitter List
Twitter search is another valuable tool for filtering and surfacing conversations and topics that are happening on the network.
Also, social networks that aggregate presentations (Slideshare), videos (YouTube), documents (Scribd), and podcasts (iTunes) are terrific resources for finding niche, valuable content to share . Go to these networks and do keyword searches. Search within social networks to find timely and timeless content that can help your contacts become smarter and more successful!
#4 Utilize “Smart Device” Apps
As smart phones become smarter and faster, so do the apps that live on them. Smart devices have become content consumption devices. In fact, if you study your blog traffic you will most likely find that many visitors are coming from smart devices!
Many of the content consumption apps will allow you to connect your Google Reader account and display the content beautifully, in an easy to read magazine style format. In many cases, you can even connect your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts.
The benefit of utilizing smart content consumption apps on your smart devices is that you can quickly keep tabs on your social networks AND you can find great content to collect and share on the go.
My 3 favorite smart device apps that I can’t live without?
Pulse (an RSS news reader for Iphone, Ipad, Kindle Fire, Android)
Flipboard (a social magazine for the Ipad)
Zite (a personalized Ipad magazine)
As you build your Business Intelligence Program, constantly prune and refine the content that you consume. There is only so much time in the day, so filtering out the junk (I classify it as junk if I don’t look at it at least weekly) can help you save tremendous time. Your Google Reader Dashboard can get over grown just like weeds in a garden. When that happens you may not go back often. Focus on quality, and keep your reading list realistic and achievable.
Over time you will definitely find your favorites and “must reads”. (I keep about 10 blogs in the “must reads” folder)
Finally, I would recommend making content consumption a daily habit. This will keep you current and competitive. Read your feeds over morning coffee! Favorite your best finds and share them with your networks and contacts!
The smarter you can become about using time-saving technology and tools, the more competitive you will become as a business person in a wired world. Take the time to learn these tools and incorporate them into your daily routine! Are you using any of these tools that I’ve mentioned in the post?
This article is part of a series entitled Thought Leadership Content Marketing in Social Media Times. To read the other articles in this series CLICK HERE.