You’ve probably seen it all over LinkedIn.
But what exactly is thought leadership?
Who are thought leaders?
How can I become a thought leader?
Today we will explore the fundamentals of thought leadership, and how it can be used in your marketing strategy.
Plus we’ll give our top tips on how you can establish yourself as a thought leader on social media, and build your personal brand!
What Is Thought Leadership?
Fundamentally, thought leadership is a marketing strategy.
It’s how individuals build their reputation and credibility within their industry.
Thought leaders can essentially be defined as influencers in a particular domain.
Nowadays, this is mostly achieved on social media. Hello, LinkedIn!
Thought leaders typically have a large social media following and are considered an authority on a specific subject. They also usually have influence within the company they work for, and might be c-suite executives.
Modern-day thought leaders publish blogs, articles, books, podcasts, videos and other forms of content to share their insights.
Ever seen a scientist featured in a Netflix documentary talking about the impact of their research, showing behind-the-scenes in a lab, or commenting on how technology advances have changed their field?
That’s thought leadership.
Thought leadership is prevalent in academia, but it’s not just for the professors!
Entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk and Bill Gates are also considered thought leaders.
What are the Goals of Thought Leadership?
Okay, but what’s the point of thought leadership?
Well, here’s a few benefits that thought leaders and the companies they work for can see:
- Influence and Networking.
- Generating leads for your business.
- Improving relationships and communication with customers and prospects.
- Creating and maintaining awareness of your industry and company.
- Career progression!
- Opportunities. Thought leaders often get invited to create Ted talks, speak at industry conferences or get interviewed on podcasts.
How To Become a Thought Leader
So, you want to become a thought leader.
It takes time and dedication, but you’ll get there!
What skills do thought leaders need to have?
- Industry Knowledge
- Critical Thinking
3 Steps To Becoming a Thought Leader
We’ve broken it down into three steps to help you get started.
Most importantly, remember that consistency is key.
You’re not going to become a thought leader in a week.
1) Establish Credibility
Make sure your social media accounts are professional and up-to-date. You’ll need to optimize your LinkedIn profile to reach the right audience. Highlight your qualifications, work experience, and skills!
Remember to consider this from a reader’s perspective: why should they trust you?
Connect with authoritative people in your field. Engage with their social media posts by leaving insightful comments that spark conversation.
Social media is social, so get yourself out there and network with others.
2) Create Content That Showcases Your Expertise.
Your content should always add value to the reader.
Create content that educates and inspires.
Make it personal. Use your own experiences! Storytelling on social media is incredibly engaging.
Don’t be afraid to be a tad controversial… within reason.
I’m not talking about starting arguments on LinkedIn!
But maybe there’s a viral article going around about your industry, and you disagree. Debunk those pervasive myths… as long as you can back up your opinion with facts.
It’s not enough to just have opinions and knowledge. Thought leadership content needs to be communicated well, whether written or spoken. People need to understand what you’re talking about.
3) It’s Time to Share Your Insights on Social Media!
LinkedIn is the best place to start, but think about where else your message might be best shared.
Where do people in your industry hang out online? Twitter? Instagram?
If you want to take it to the next level, consider making videos!
Save our handy infographic for later!
Types of Thought Leadership Content
Okay, so we’ve told you the 3 steps to becoming a thought leader.
But what kinds of content should you actually create?
This depends on the industry you’re in, but publishing research papers or white papers is an excellent way to showcase expertise.
However, we recommend switching up your content styles to maintain interest. We’re big fans of repurposing content for different platforms too.
For example, you might have written an in-depth research paper on a niche topic.
Now turn your thesis into a blog post, or a LinkedIn article. Sum up what your paper is about and provide the key takeaways.
Then use your blog post as a starting point for social media content.
Take a point from the blog post, and briefly talk about it on social media.
You could even turn it into a video or a visual graphic for Instagram.
Remember that thought leadership content should always be about the reader and what they need to know about your subject matter.
The best way to do this?
Identify problems in your industry, and provide solutions.
Give advice and share valuable resources. Become the go-to person in your niche!
How To Find Thought Leadership Content Ideas
Think about interesting conversations you’ve had with clients or colleagues about your industry.
What insights can you add?
Ask your followers for their opinion on a subject. This helps build a relationship with your audience.
Keep up with industry news. Recent articles are always a good starting point for thought leadership content. Add your expert opinion on the topic.
Read books, attend conferences, watch documentaries… staying informed and noticing industry trends will give you all the content ideas you need!
How Marketing and PR can use Thought Leadership
We’ve covered what thought leadership content is, and shared the benefits of it.
But how can thought leadership boost your marketing and PR efforts?
And how can you encourage it?
First of all, establish who are your thought leaders are (or could be).
Your company CEO might be one already.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
If you’re in the B2B SaaS world, your software developers could have the potential to become thought leaders.
Or if you work in pharmaceuticals, your scientists are literally experts. Encourage them to share insights on recent industry news and research.
Did you know that nearly 85% of CEOs and vice presidents say they use social media to make purchasing decisions? Yep, this is why you need to encourage thought leadership content!
If the thought leaders in your company create original content, it’ll provide marketing and PR with so many assets to share on social media and with the news media.
Plus it’ll inspire other employees in your company to create content, build up personal brands, and become employee advocates!
With Gartner predicting that 80% of B2B sales interactions will take place on digital channels by 2025, thought leadership is an excellent way to stand out from your competitors.
As marketing becomes increasingly digital, it’s time to start empowering your employee influencers.
We can help with that!
Want to learn more?
Join our weekly webinar on Mondays at 2pm UK time.
Prefer to jump straight in? Book a demo.