Thought leadership is a type of marketing wherein you establish yourself or your brand as an authority and opinion leader within your industry. It’s a process of building your long-term reputability and answering the complex questions of your audience and followers in the industry.
In a deafeningly noisy content marketing world, the consumers and B2B professionals often seek out credible, motivating and actionable takeaways from trusted sources.
By nourishing yourself as a thought leader, your brand can immensely benefit from the trust of your followers. Some of the great thought leaders of our times are Elon Musk and Neil Degrasse Tyson whom people in their respective industry look up to for motivation and solutions to their everyday problems.
Thought Leadership: Is It for You?
Even as thought leadership is technically a powerful marketing tool, it’s really not the primary goal of thought leaders. Being a go-to expert of your industry definitely looks like an attractive proposition. However, as Carlton Hoyt pointed out, brands must ask themselves if they can benefit from the process before getting on the bandwagon. After all, it’s not the only marketing option out there.
There are 3 ways to determine if your company can benefit from the role of thought leadership.
Determine the Customer Relationship Type: If the relationship between your brand and customers is long-term, you are likely to reap dividends from the accumulated trust over a period of time. For example, if you’re a SaaS software company, your customers may turn to your expert advice. Therefore, by building definitive content guides, you can gain the trust of your customers and continue to grow your credibility among your customers and prospects.
However, if you’re running a business where customers loyalty is guided by factors outside your control, and the attention you get is fleeting, it may not be wise to invest a great deal of time into building thought leadership.
Establish the Complexity of Your Products/Services: If your products or services are technologically advanced, your customers will constantly look out for advance knowledge and guidance. This where your company makes a difference by nurturing thought leadership. For example, if you’re an Internet Services Provider (ISP), your customers will constantly seek information to improve their knowledge.
Ascertain Customers’ Product Knowledge: If you’re operating in an industry wherein the average customer has little product knowledge, you can benefit from building yourself as a thought leader. By empowering your customers and prospects with product knowledge, you can help them with better purchasing decisions, which, in turn, will pay off as customers will trust your brand over the competition.
Thought Leadership Best Practices
Building thought leadership can be a complex process. It requires a great deal of investment in terms of time and resources. Companies aspiring to establish their thought leadership should keep in mind the following best practices.
Speak the Language of Your Audience
The important part of being a thought leader is speaking to your audience in the language they best understand. Whether you’re creating content guides or engaging with your followers on social media, using “their” language will encourage them to identify with your leadership. This is one of the key components which will also help you stand out from others and influence your followers naturally.
While creating content (blog post, infographics etc), keep the target audience in mind and use the appropriate tone, vocabulary, and articulation for your audience. Use tools such as Atomic AI that help you build content that is commensurate with your the profile of your ideal audience.
Building thought leadership is a long-term process and it requires you to be consistent with your efforts. If you want to be trusted source for your audience, you need to create valuable content and promote it via outreach campaigns. According to Hubspot, companies can boost their inbound leads and inbound traffic by publishing at least 9-15 high-quality articles per month.
Curate and Share Quality Content
Apart from offering information-rich content, you can also use content curation as a tool for establishing leadership. Curating relevant, insightful and shareable content can help you bolster your position as an expert in your industry. When you provide your followers with useful news, tips & advice, case studies, and tools to empower them, it establishes your credibility. While curating content, be sure to cite trustworthy sources.
Use Social Media Actively
The increased use of social media offers you a unique opportunity to connect with your audience. However, with limited time, it’s important to determine the most appropriate social media platform for building your thought leadership and get on with it.
More importantly, you should remain active on your social media platforms and engage with your followers actively. Any digital marketing professional who is an active Twitter user may have noticed the difference between Neil Patel and Rand Fishkin in their engagement approaches. The bottomline is that you must reach out to your audience more often than not in order to inspire trust and credibility.
Like any other marketing process, building thought leadership requires a great deal of flexibility in your approach. Experiment with your engagement style, tweak your content formats, constant innovate brand-new ways to offer more value to your audience.
How do you go about building your expertise among your followers?