Contributed by Heather Redding
Heather Redding is a content manager for rent, hailing from Aurora. She loves to geek out writing about wearables, IoT and other hot tech trends. When she finds the time to detach from her keyboard, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.
Thought leadership is a vital cog in your branding, messaging, marketing, and selling.
Among the global business decision-makers surveyed in an impact study, 88% said that thought leadership enhanced their view of a company. Because of its enormous effects, business owners and executives can use it to broadcast their mission to the world and grow their business.
Failing to establish yourself as an authority exposes your company to various problems. These include:
- low reputation and lack of brand awareness;
- vulnerability to scandals and negative reviews;
- missing out on growth and sales opportunities;
- inadequate exposure for public engagement;
- low web traffic for the company’s online content.
On the other hand, becoming an online presence as a thought leader will improve your reputation and spill over to benefit your business.
Building thought leadership online has become a top component of successful content marketing. Content created as a thought leader is more engaging, informative, and based on topics the audience finds appealing.
Continue reading for ideas to help you harness the power of online authority to boost your company’s growth.
1. Be Authentic
In a world filled with marketing gimmicks and sales tricks, being authentic sets you apart as a trusted friend. Every customer will see you as someone committed to improving their lives rather than as one merely selling products.
People are also looking to put an actual name and “face” to faceless brands and businesses. They want to feel that human-to-human connection instead of the impersonal relationships between companies and prospects.
Authenticity allows you to not only connect but also build trust and credibility with the audience.
An authentic leader can articulate the customer’s problems because of prior experience or empathy. This ability makes the prospect feel heard and sets your brand as their voice.
Use your trusted position to provide insights and solutions the people need. Gather industry data and other trends to share with your followers. Break down this information to ensure it’s understandable and applicable to their businesses.
Your brand will receive priority in any buying decisions as a result.
Continue producing expert content to reassure everyone your brand remains the industry’s standard.
2. Seek Out Speaking or Guest Blogging Opportunities
Search for speaking opportunities such as interviews, meetings, conference panels, and conventions. Apply online for guest blogging opportunities in your niche or related industries.
The reason for these steps is to get your name out there as a reliable source of information.
Customers are yearning to hear the views of industry leaders on various subjects. They expect company leaders to share their opinions on issues facing their niche.
Take the opportunity to increase your reputation as someone who has in-depth knowledge. Confirm if the organizers will share these speaking engagements online before participating.
Speak confidently, and don’t shy away from being authentic in your responses. A real leader is not afraid to give views that are contrary to what others are saying.
Be open with the audience, and they’ll give more credence to your words.
As for guest-blogging, choose the topics customers are asking about and reply in a blog format. Consider guest blogging in an interview format, with questions and the answers underneath, or via podcast.
Try doing a video format instead, which will be more direct, and you’ll cover more content in a short period.
3. Stay Up-to-Date on Industry Related Trends
Stay up-to-date on any industry-related trends to provide a well-rounded analysis. Knowing the trends gives the context and the statistics, which influence business decisions.
You’re not just talking to a random audience. The people consuming your content are also business owners and experts. As such, you must have the stats on hand because it gives you credibility as a thought leader.
Study all the data and trends and use them to make predictions about your industry. If you turn out to be right, it will elevate your status into ‘Business Guru’ territory. People will acknowledge you as the go-to person for learning and company improvement.
4. Engage on Social Media and Other Forums
Sign up to many social media platforms, blogs, and forums and engage with the audiences there. Post exciting content on social media, and include questions, blogs, and videos that help the platform users. Check the discussion forums and respond to industry questions and related matters.
Constant engagement boosts brand awareness and strengthens your image as an expert. The idea is to connect on many levels so that you can become top-of-mind for the audience. Once it’s time to buy products in your industry, they’ll be thinking more about your brand than about other brands.
A thought leader makes themselves available to those seeking insights. Be active in responding to users to make it easier for your followers to recommend people to you.
It allows you to interact with other leaders and opens up new opportunities for you, either in speaking engagements or in guest-blogging.
Compile a list of the most prevalent issues people are asking about in the forums. Develop an archive full of comprehensive content based on those issues. Ask them for their opinion to encourage conversations and to give users access to ideas from other commenters.
5. Build a Strong Social Media Presence
Build a strong social media presence to expand your reach to various platforms. Register on the most popular platforms, which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Join the groups in your niche where you’ll find people who want extra knowledge about the industry.
Reach out to social media influencers and build mutually-beneficial relationships. These influencers will spread your name and attract more people to your social media.
Turn those curious viewers into long-term clients by charming them and offering solutions.
Social media provides a chance to address concerns about your company’s products. It’s easy for negative reviews to sink your business. Yet, as a thought leader, you can deal with scandals by showing the audience you’re taking their feedback. Doing this increases the customer’s trust levels and makes them loyal to your brand.
6. Produce High-Quality Content Consistently
According to a study, 52% of surveyed content marketers said they struggle to create the right content for thought leadership.
You can overcome this problem by knowing your goals and setting out a plan for achieving them. Learn to identify what your audience is searching for and tailor your work to those needs.
In the business-to-business (B2B) environment, focus your thought leader content on solutions. Businesses have more decision-makers than when a business is selling to consumers (B2C). Thus, giving executives solutions aligns their decisions and makes it easier for companies to buy from you.
Produce high-quality content consistently and optimize it for search engines to make your work visible. Search engine optimization (SEO) enables new clients to find you by ranking your website high and bringing traffic your way.
Conduct keyword research to uncover what the executives are checking on search engines. Include these keywords in your headlines and video titles for customers to discover your content quicker.
Address your audience’s pain points and deliver actionable advice, which they can apply immediately.
Target users with content at every stage of the sales funnel, from awareness to purchase. Write extra content on retaining the customers and giving them a memorable experience.
Post your content in the correct format and to the right platforms. Consider mixing two types of content into one post, for example, video content summarizing the blog you’ve written. Then, promote the content on social media to enhance its reach.
7. Focus on Creating Value
Focus on creating value rather than being too promotional. It’s not only about authenticity but also setting yourself up as a problem solver.
Everyone is looking for a competitive advantage, so create the value they need, and they’ll reward you by consuming more of your content.
Choose the ideal content type for your audience, from blogs, podcasts, online events and webinars, guest blogs, and videos. Create other in-depth types of content, such as case studies, whitepapers, and peer-reviewed articles.
Be consistent in posting new content for your readers and viewers. Instead of going weeks without posting anything, ask customers to share testimonials.
Let your audience hear from fellow buyers how you and your company have helped them.
These stories tell people who you are and how they should feel about your business opinions. Weave success stories into your content and speeches to make your impact relatable. Advise the listeners to take ideas from success stories and use them in their businesses.
With the right online presence and public image, you can expand your business, customer reach, and sales impact. As a thought leader, your role is to educate your audience, handle complex industry questions, and offer workable solutions.
Be authentic by being open with the public and making yourself available to meet their needs. Avoid canned or clichéd comments as they will make you look fake, which will hurt your ability to sow trust and establish credibility.
Companies are using thought leadership to vet businesses, determine expertise, and find value.
They also see it as a networking tool and a means for greater outreach, web traffic, and more sales. As such, position yourself as an authority by seeking speaking and blogging opportunities, staying updated on the industry, and engaging with social media people.
Develop high-quality, optimized content consistently. Employ various types of content to meet the particular needs of different customers.
If you do these things, you’ll boost your reputation, which will raise your business profile.