How to Develop Your Thought Leadership Platform

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If you’re in business or just starting out, you have probably heard of “thought leadership,” a popular business buzzword. Thought leadership goes hand-in-hand with an organization’s content marketing strategy. It’s about producing high-quality content — blog posts, podcast episodes, email newsletters, video content, and more — that provides expertise clients can actually use and can’t get anywhere else.

Thought leadership is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your industry through offering helpful, relevant content to your audience. In fact, 66% of marketers consider thought leadership to be a top priority for their organization. 

However, only 26% consider their current program to be “very successful.” In other words, there’s a ton of untapped potential in the thought leadership realm — and we want to help you tap into it.

Here’s what you need to know about establishing yourself as a thought leader in the modern business world.

Why is it important to develop thought leadership strategies?

It boosts your credibility while building genuine connections

A thought leadership strategy is a must-have if you want to demonstrate your expertise in your industry and cultivate awareness and trust in your brand. A well-executed and fully-developed thought leadership strategy can boost your credibility and help you build connections with potential leads. 

By The Numbers

According to a 2021 study by LinkedIn, 47% of buyers say thought leadership led them to discover and ultimately purchase from a company that was not previously considered to be among the leaders in a particular category.

However, it’s easy for thought leadership strategies to go awry, especially in the current climate. If your content doesn’t provide value or isn’t relevant to your audience’s current needs and experiences, you could end up doing more harm than good. Poor thought leadership can read as tone-deaf or self-serving, which can ultimately slow business relationships and turn away prospective customers.

It allows you to provide value to your audience

When you offer insight to consumers without being overly promotional or trying to sell them your product or service, you’ll build organic, longer lasting business relationships with customers and clients. Their loyalty will drive more consistent sales and even encourage referrals, helping you attract new buyers as well.

By providing valuable content on a regular basis, you can become a go-to for your audience. That way, when they’re experiencing an issue or have a question about something relative to your industry, they’ll come directly to you.

How to develop your thought leadership strategy

1. Find out what your clients want to know.

Thought leadership is about being seen in your area of business, but it’s also about being part of your area of business. In alignment with your organization’s content marketing strategy, you should already know where your target audience is spending their time.

Being part of conversations happening around you will help your organization remain visible and known, and also let you see what your potential clients are talking about. What are they asking for, and what resources are already being shared with them? Do you have feedback from your customers with data about their specific needs?

Marketing Lingo

Monitoring the online conversations involving your brand and industry is known as social listening. In addition to evaluating what your customers tell you directly, keep an eye on brand mentions, competitor communities, and relevant hashtags in your industry to better understand what content your audience is seeking.

2. Build a stable of subject matter experts. 

Once you understand what your clients want to know, you need to find someone who can actually answer their questions. If that isn’t you or anyone in your business, you will need to seek out an expert. Develop focused interview questions that can get to the heart of your clients’ concerns/problems. 

However, finding a cooperating subject matter expert and working through interview material can take time, so you need to make sure you’re also demonstrating your expertise in other ways. Many successful thought leadership platforms include guest posts and conversations with other organizations. Take advantage of your strengths, and find ways to continuously improve your weaknesses.

3. Create engaging, meaningful content.

Thought leadership content can range from informational blog posts to intimate podcast episodes that dive deep into popular topics in the given industry. Content producers need to find a balance between educating and entertaining, making something clients will actually want to refer to (and keep referring to) to help them make decisions and solve problems. They’re looking for facts supporting statements, quotes from people whose opinions are relevant to the subject matter, anecdotes of relatable situations, and applications that have a place in their everyday personal or professional lives.

The format matters, too. In today’s constantly-connected world, most content is consumed through phones — meaning the best, most-viewed content is bite-sized and mobile-friendly. That’s why creating content like videos, blogs, and podcasts (content that is easily digestible) is so important. Not only are these channels easy to access on mobile devices, they’re also increasing in popularity. In fact, 50% of all US homes are podcast fans, video generates 1200% more shares on social media than text and image content combined, and 77% of internet users read blogs.

To generate more engagement, look into opportunities that meet consumers’ demands. The more types of content you create, the wider the reach you will have.

4. Share content on multiple platforms — when it matters.  

Just as a good content marketing plan strives to reach clients through different platforms and media types, a good thought leadership strategy spans multiple channels and addresses client needs at appropriate times. 

You can reap many benefits from posting your content on different platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. For instance, Instagram is a great way to engage with customers via feed posts, Stories, and Reels. On LinkedIn, you can connect with other professionals in your network to establish yourself as a thought leader. Using various platforms help you expand your reach and increase brand awareness. 

This is also a great opportunity to repurpose content instead of creating fresh posts on each site. For example, if you wrote a blog post on a specific topic relevant to your audience, you can pull some important points and link it in a Facebook post where others can share it; you can also rework it into a LinkedIn article to reach a wider audience. 

Related article: Why Content Marketing and Social Media Go Hand-in-Hand

5. Pay attention to trends and stay current.

All leadership is most effective when it is consistent with current trends and information. A presentation about creating community through mobile app development from 2015 isn’t applicable for 2021 clients, and this is true for most organizations’ content. A strong thought leadership strategy requires you to learn and evolve. It’s being who your clients need you to be as the world changes. 

Are you ready to develop your business’s thought leadership strategy? A trusted content marketing team can help you plan, execute and promote your thought leadership plan. Contact us to learn how Lightning Media Partners can help you develop your voice and get your brand noticed.

Sammi Caramela also contributed to this article.

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