Thought leadership can be one of the most valuable and effective ways to build a loyal following on social media. When a business allows its employees to become thought leaders, it’s recognizing employees have valuable insights and perspectives to add to the conversation that social media audiences – including prospective and current customers – are interested in seeing.

But thought leadership isn’t solely about disseminating original content. Not only is it unrealistic for thought leaders to keep up with writing for social media on top of all of their other job responsibilities, but the most effective thought leaders recognize they aren’t the only ones with something interesting to say. And that’s why it’s so important for thought leaders to share quality content from others in addition to company content. Here are some tips for how to build thought leadership by sharing third-party content:

Meet your audience in the real world

Audiences on social media get their content from a variety of sources, and they judge this content not by who wrote it, but by how interesting it is to them. When you acknowledge your audience doesn’t live in a marketing department filled with talking points and social media analytics, you’ll realize that your content doesn’t need to be so carefully crafted and controlled – and that it’s effective and strategic to meet your audience in the real world.

Recognize your social media team can’t go it alone

Social media is such a vast, dynamic space that no social media team, regardless of how large or sophisticated, can possibly maximize its effectiveness by pumping out original content all the time. Rather, your social media team’s time is most effectively used by spending part of the day monitoring content written by others and evaluating which content pieces to share. EveryoneSocial’s industry-leading social media sharing platform can be a tremendous help to your social media team when it comes to out-of-company content because it allows your team to curate both internal and external content for sharing company wide. This helps to build up employees in different areas as thought leaders, while also helping them build up their own personal brand within their respective industries. Getting employees from different areas of the company involved is vital to your thought leadership efforts.

Make meaningful additions to third-party content you share

When you share third-party content, you can’t simply share the link and call it a day, nor is it sufficient to append a generic message like, “Good read!” What you want to do is convey to your audience why a particular piece of content matters to them and how it’s relevant to the type of content you want to become known for. When you do this, you’re differentiating yourself from all of the other folks that share the same content; this is what builds thought leadership.

Be clear about how industry content is relevant

As you weigh which content pieces to share with your audience, remember that if you’re having trouble articulating the relevance of a particular piece to your business, it’s almost certainly going to go right over your (distracted) audience’s head. You want to choose content that clearly relates to the kind of information and perspectives your business is known for (or wants to be known for).

Use audience response to refine what content you share

When you share out-of-company content, you want to be aware of how your followers receive it and engage with it. Over time, you’ll notice patterns and trends in what most resonates with your audience, and be able to adapt your content sharing strategy accordingly.
Keep your external content sharing consistent

Your brand will become stronger if you can deliver a predictable, consistent mix of content – and that includes the outside content you share. A good rule of thumb might be to maintain a 75/25 split: 75% of all social media content should be content from outside your company, and 25% should be company-created content.
Always give credit where credit is due

No one wants to suffer the public embarrassment of being accused of plagiarism or deceptive sharing practices. You should always make sure content you share is clearly identified as such, and you should avoid sharing more than a snippet of it.

Make sure content is accurate and timely

Before you share anything, you must thoroughly read it. This might sound obvious, but keep in mind how easy it is to accidentally hit “Share” before truly verifying that a piece of outside content is accurate, comes from a trustworthy site, and doesn’t contain any out-of-date or inappropriate information.

Don’t treat your competitors as adversaries

Whether or not you want your audience to be exposed to your competitors, the odds are they will be exposed. So, rather than carefully avoid all mention of your competition on social media, a better strategy is to embrace your similarities and occasionally share competitor content. You not only stand a chance of penetrating your competition’s audience, but your competitors also may respond in-kind by sharing your content with their audience.

Sharing outside content may sound counterintuitive and counterproductive at first, but when done correctly it’s a key component to building thought leadership on social media. The keys to success are to recognize the value of external content, know how to share it for maximum impact, always credit appropriate parties, and verify its accuracy and timeliness.

To learn more about how to share third-party content through your company or organization, download our latest infographic about employee advocacy.