Everyone wants to be a thought leader, but thought leadership pieces are more than just your regular blog post — it’s a piece of content that must demonstrate a higher level of expertise.
Which means it must be from (or at least guided by) an established authority figure who is recognised by others from the field, and they’re often the C-suite executives of a company who are knowledgeable and know about the happenings in their industry.
By utilising thought leadership content, brands and companies leverage their industry knowledge to provide meaningful insights for their audience.
In a way, that’s the main intention of creating thought leadership content. By providing new insights, you can help your audience solve existing problems in a new way — either by transforming the way they think or by provoking a discussion in your industry.
One example is the “Content is King” piece by Bill Gates, where he first said content would be how businesses make money in the Internet age. This was back in 1996, long before anyone else even knew how big the Internet would become. This statement still holds true to this day, a testament to his authority and expertise.
Ultimately, thought leadership should increase your credibility and trust among peers and customers. This sentiment is echoed by a 2020 joint study between Edelman and LinkedIn, where 89% of decision-makers reported that thought leadership was effective in enhancing their perceptions of an organisation.
Who’s the first person when you think about investing? It will surely be Warren Buffet, or maybe his equally-famous mentor economist Benjamin Graham. It’s because they’ve proven themselves as experts in their space.
After establishing yourself as an expert and a figure of authority in a specialised field, you’re likely to be top of mind as well when it comes to sales or new opportunities in the form of partnerships and collaborations.
In fact, the same Edelman-LinkedIn research showed that 49% of decision-makers said thought leadership influenced their purchasing decisions.
Not only should thought leadership come from a person with authority, but it also has to offer new perspectives, and spark new ideas and conversations. By creating something new, you differentiate yourself from competitors.
If you discuss something previously discussed by someone else, why should your peers and customers hear what you’ve to say? Give them something that they cannot find elsewhere.
Look at this 2011 Ted Talk by Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, where she advocated and elaborated the importance of having enough sleep to achieve success — a different perspective in a society and in an industry that often prioritises work over rest and sleep.
Thought leadership should be embedded with facts, surveys, and research. This will allow your content to be trustworthy, as it reflects what is actually happening in the industry.
It’s also much better if you draw on your own experiences when you’re creating content. Think about what information only you might be privy to that’s going to add credibility to what you say.
For example, if you’re in the cybersecurity field, you can talk about the most common security loopholes that companies have, the average number of cyberattacks small businesses face on the daily, and the most effective ways to resolve these security breaches.
To boost visibility, it helps if you are creating or promoting your thought leadership content across various channels.
Without a doubt, you should be active on social media as well. Apart from regular posts, you can consider making social videos or try your hand at livestreaming. Since everything on social media is easily liked and shared, you are likely to gain a wider viewership than you otherwise normally would.
In general, it’s a good idea to mix up content formats. After all, people consume media in different ways, and ideally you’d like to reach them where they want to be, with omni-channel content.
And if you have a chance to share your expertise through an event — be it live or virtual — you should definitely jump at that chance. Not only does it help boost your reputation, it’s also often a great chance to network and learn from other individuals in the same industry.
Without a doubt, it is a long-term journey towards becoming a thought-leader. As an agency, we can help you create the kind of content you need to build authority and garner a following, but it also requires commitment from the individual aspiring to this status.
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Click2View is Southeast Asia’s premiere full-service independent B2B content marketing agency servicing clients like Microsoft, Google, Visa, Prudential, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.