Thought leadership content grows ever more abundant, but so little of it proves valuable to readers. To distinguish yourself as an expert in your industry, you need to share unique expertise that can advance your industry or sector into the future. To build up your thought leadership authority in your space, try out these four efforts in 2022.
The corporate world needs thought leadership more than ever. The only problem is that too few people are sharing their expertise and becoming true thought leaders.
This isn’t to suggest that there’s a dearth of thought leadership content — in fact, the internet is chock-full of thought leadership information. And according to a joint Edelman-LinkedIn survey, 71% of decision makers regularly consume thought leadership content to stay abreast of what’s happening in their sectors. Unfortunately, the same percentage of readers say that more than half of that content lacks valuable insights. In other words, if you have industry expertise and a unique perspective, the market wants to hear and learn from your thought leadership wisdom.
But because finding valuable thought leadership content has proved challenging for many B2B audiences, let’s first establish what authentic thought leadership is and is not. Genuine thought leadership is not writing just to tout your accolades and accomplishments, being the loudest on the internet, or boring your readers with generic or vague information. Instead, thought leadership is about using your platform to share unique expertise that can advance your industry or sector into the future. Authentic thought leaders are interested in educating their audiences over advancing their own bottom lines. For this reason, they share unique, thought-provoking, and actionable content on a consistent basis to lend insight into how their industries will and should respond to evolving circumstances.
That’s just one way thought leadership itself has evolved. To become a next-gen thought leader, you can’t just publish a few stray articles in a random smattering of online publications and call your work done. Part of being an authentic thought leader in 2022 requires going beyond traditional guest-contributed articles to reach audiences in new ways and help move your industry forward. To build up your thought leadership authority in your space, try out these efforts in 2022:
- Offer webinars solo or with partners.
Webinars offer you a digital vehicle to educate target audiences on something they don’t know. Take my company’s “How to Unlock Your Website’s Potential Quickly With a Content Audit,” for example. We hosted this webinar in 2021 as a way to deliver insights on a topic that can be confusing for a lot of businesses. It allowed our internal thought leaders to pass along their mastery. Of course, your company doesn’t have to present a webinar alone. You have the option of bringing at least one other partner company into the fold. That way, you’ll be able to expose your followers to important information and introduce your thought leadership to your webinar partner’s clients or fans. One piece of advice: Don’t join forces with a webinar partner just because you can. Be choosy. Think about potential webinar topics and where you each fit into the picture. Remember that your webinar should be exciting and offer techniques, data, or takeaways that can’t be Googled. Oh, and never use your webinar as just another place to promote your products or services.
- Apply to speak at conferences and other events.
Thought leaders stay ahead of the curve and serve as industry prognosticators as well as change agents. As a result, they’re highly sought-after as guest lecturers, keynote speakers, and panelists.
Even if you’re not the most confident public speaker in the world, you can’t build credibility faster than talking to a virtual or in-person roomful of listeners. An easy way to get started as a speaker is to check out the websites for conferences and events in your field. Once there, look for requests for speaker applications. Fill out ones on subjects that align with your expertise. Then, wait to hear back. In the meantime, keep up your social presence because you can be sure the committee choosing speakers will check out your personal brand online.
In our space, Content Marketing World is an event that gathers the best and brightest. This year’s speaking lineup includes Michelle Ngome, the executive director of the African American Marketing Association, and Zontee Hou, director of strategy at Convince & Convert. It’s a “who’s who” of thought leaders, and as you might suspect, we’re always happy to add our voices to the mix.
- Push out on-site content consistently.
Blog posts. Infographics. Whitepapers. If it lives on your website, it can serve as yet another thought leadership touchpoint. Take HubSpot. The site’s known for engaging resources including case studies, e-books, and even courses. Is it any wonder HubSpot’s considered a thought leader in the inbound marketing space? If you’re having difficulty coming up with topics, try a few best practices starting with finding your purpose or “why.” Understanding why you’re blogging or creating videos will help you come up with ideas based on your underlying goals. At the same time, think about your audience and what they need from you, as well as their preferred content format.
Next, keep an ongoing brainstorming list where you capture ideas for future messages. You may want to conduct keyword research to spark your creativity. And finally, map out an editorial calendar with a schedule you can stick to. Aim for at least one piece of on-site content weekly to begin. As you go, optimize your content for easier search and better conversion. And don’t forget to refresh your content by updating it with the latest industry information.
- Aim to secure mentions in the press.
Whenever you’re mentioned in media by a third party, you gain the advantage of being positioned as a trusted authority. Having someone else touting your accomplishments or citing an excerpt from a piece of your published content can send your thought leadership authority soaring. Getting journalistic and editorial press requires a bit of tenacity. You’ll need to offer yourself as an interviewer to editors and authors, send press releases about your awards and speaking opportunities, and conduct similar outreach. Over time, your diligence can pay off. Readers will see you as a valid source of knowledge.
Though you can’t control all press mentions, you can control the foundational content you generate like email newsletters, blog posts, and social media posts. Make sure all those pieces of collateral support the brand personality you want as a thought leader. Case in point: Our CEO, Kelsey Raymond, was featured in an Authority Magazine interview about not only how to build thought leadership, but also her own entrepreneurial journey helping others do the same. Opportunities like this arise for thought leaders after they’ve built solid online presences by consistently sharing valuable, helpful content that pushes the industry forward.
The bottom line is that your thought leadership is more welcome than ever. That said, you have to create and execute on a diverse content plan to get the ball rolling — and your authority factor climbing.
Written by Alyssa Patzius.
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