According to research, thought leadership is the most impactful form of content marketing, surpassing case studies and adverts. Generally, most buyers rely on online sources to gather information about the products they want to buy. Perhaps, that's why thought leadership is such an influential content type, thanks to its high credibility.
The importance of providing credible information to your audience cannot be overemphasized. A research by Edelman and LinkedIn on global decision-makers showed that poor quality content has a negative impact on business generation. Almost half of the interviewees said poor content quality decreased their opinion of a company after reading it.
In short, positioning yourself as a thought leader can influence your brand perception significantly. Consequently, you can leverage thought leadership to generate more leads and sales.
What Is Thought Leadership?
A thought leader is someone who has distinguished themselves as a credible source of information in their industry. They generate ideas that shape people's views on a particular subject, hence becoming trusted information sources over time.
Thus, thought leadership entails packaging the information your audience wants and delivering it in a way that earns their trust. In other words, you provide answers to the audience's biggest questions in the most profound way.
Thought Leadership Tips
It takes hard work to build a solid reputation and position yourself as a thought leader in an industry. Ready to establish yourself as a trusted and reliable source of industry information? Well, it all begins somewhere. Here are tips to guide you on the journey.
1. Define Your Niche
While being a jack-of-all-trades is admirable (I mean, being able to provide helpful information on every topic that matters can be pretty impressive), establishing yourself as an industry thought leader requires some level of depth into a subject matter. Essentially, focusing on a single area enables you to gain in-depth insights that you can then share with your audience. Your expertise also improves the more you become conversant with a particular field.
Hence, choosing a niche is of utmost importance if you want to become an impactful thought leader. To select your niche, identify an area that you have extensive knowledge in, and which you're passionate about.
Once you pick the niche, study as much as you can about it to gain a deeper understanding. For instance, profile the personas in that niche and seek to understand their values, interests, and pains. This way, you can create content that they resonate with.
2. Find Your Voice
As a thought leader, you want to come out as naturally as possible. You may be sharing information that the audience might probably find somewhere else later, but you want your presentation to be memorably unique to you. Besides, relaying your expertise in a personal voice helps you connect with the audience at a deeper level.
Essentially, as a thought leader, your interest should be to draw an audience that resonate with your values. Hence, allowing your thoughts to flow naturally lets your personality shine through, attracting the right audience for your brand.
3. Start Creating Content
This is a no-brainer. Content is the engine that fuels thought leadership. Start by honing your content creation skills and have a documented content strategy. While the focus here is on producing credible and unique content that adds value to the readers, you need a content strategy to guide the process.
The strategy should cover things such as the content types (blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc.), posting frequency, platforms to use, etc. The secret is to mix various content types and post on all the platforms where your ideal audience hangs out.
If you haven't launched a blog on your website, that should be the starting point. Then you can promote the blog posts on your social media profiles alongside other social posts.
Important note: Quality content is one of the main factors that distinguish a thought leader. Hence, the content you put forth – whether it's a blog post, video, podcast, etc. – must always meet high quality standards.
4. Be Consistent
Becoming a thought leader doesn't happen overnight. Once you start creating the content, it might take long before garnering a substantial following. For this reason, you might be tempted to slow down your efforts (besides, people don't seem to consume the content that much). However, you should avoid that mistake.
Effective content marketing requires consistency, so ensure you share high-value content regularly. Maintaining a steady flow of quality content is a surefire way to extend your reach, grow a following, and build your reputation.
5. Engage on Social Media
Social media presents a ripe opportunity for you to grow your brand as an industry thought leader. With over 3.78 billion users flocking the platforms, there's no telling how much potential social holds for you.
While you may want to open an account on every platform to maximize your reach, the move can be counterproductive. To optimize your efforts, start by identifying the platforms your target audience prefers. Once you have that ticked off, test different content types on each platform, as each user base consumes content differently.
For instance, you may find that a particular segment of your Facebook audience prefers videos over text content, or the link click-through rate is higher on LinkedIn than on Twitter. Having this information is crucial as you can concentrate your efforts on creating and sharing the content likely to garner the highest engagement.
Remember, creating and sharing different content types on social media is vital as it helps you maximize your presence. For instance, you can share quotes, short, punchy posts, videos (live or recorded), infographics, links to blog posts, images, etc.
Lastly, you should identify relevant groups in your industry, join the discussions and post helpful content regularly. Alternatively, you can start your groups and enrich the members by offering tips on topics that matter to them.
6. Be Strategic
What sets thought leaders apart from the general content creators is their ability to create 'aha' moments in their audience. They take a unique and strategic approach to content creation that the rest fail to leverage. This enables them to address issues that seem to escape the attention of others.
To leverage this strategy, balance between sharing your ideas and answering questions no one else is answering. For instance, browsing through industry forums can give you insights into issues people seek answers for. You can then filter the questions and answers to find inspiration then create the content.
7. Seek Out Influencers
Once you have established a library of high-value content, you can identify industry influencers to help you reach more audiences. Influencers already have an established following to whom they can endorse you, increasing your exposure.
One of the best ways of connecting with the influencers is by following them and commenting on their posts. Providing insightful perspectives on their posts can help you stand out and build a relationship with them over time. Alternatively, you can seek their direct endorsement in exchange for a mutual benefit.
8. Build a Like-Minded Team
Thought leaders do not run a one-person show. If you browse through websites of leading thought leaders from different industries, you'll find that part of their content is produced by other team members. Essentially, you require a team to keep your website updated with fresh content frequently. This calls for assembling a team of like-minded content creators to run your content calendar.
Would this not compromise content quality? Of course not. However, it's essential to hold regular brainstorming sessions with the team, discuss content objectives and give frameworks to guide creation. Afterward, you need to conduct a thorough review of every post before publication. This way, you can ascertain that the content going live represents the brand well and meets the objectives.
9. Get Published
Blogs and social media posts provide regular visibility. But they are easily forgotten as soon as newer content comes up. However, you can achieve long-term exposure by publishing e-books and guides and offering them as freebies.
For instance, you can attach them as downloads on related content pages or build landing pages and give them as incentives for signing up for offers. But remember, if you want to be more impactful as a thought leader, prioritize giving out free information with no barriers to access.
10. Guest Blog
Guest blogging is especially essential when you're starting out. Looking for opportunities to blog on industry-leading websites can give you more exposure and build your following pretty fast. Identify leading news or industry journals and publications and offer to contribute in exchange for a backlink to your site. It's common for readers to follow guest bloggers who share insightful content, so be sure to provide a catchy bio and a compelling call to action whenever you guest post.
Start Your Journey to Effective Thought Leadership
If you have already flagged off content marketing for your business, that's an impressive milestone. Perhaps, you have a business blog where you share articles regularly, in addition to an active social media presence. If you have gone into all that trouble, you should reap the full benefits, right? Thought leadership can help optimize your content marketing efforts by reaching a wider audience with credible information capable of influencing buyers' decisions. Even if you are yet to roll out content marketing, following the above tips will help you rock thought leadership and become a respected and trusted source of information. And as you reach out and influence, you should expect to see more leads and sales.
Finally, if you don't have a business website yet, or would like to optimize an existing one, we've got your back. Contact us now, and let us build you a crisp site to optimize your online presence.