What it Means to Be a Thought Leader and How to Become One in Your Industry
Thought leadership is probably one of those buzzwords you’ve heard to describe authority gained on a subject. However, thought leadership goes much deeper than that.
So what exactly is thought leadership?
And how do you become a thought leader in your field?
Let’s dive into this topic to help you become a thought leader in your industry.
What is Thought Leadership?
Becoming a thought leader means positioning yourself as an expert in your field or industry. It means that when someone needs answers, you are the person they go to for those answers, ideas, and analysis.
Why You Should Become a Thought Leader
The easy answer is that it elevates your status in your field or industry. But a deeper look reveals that 96% of all B2B (business to business) companies want more content from industry thought leaders! This means that people and companies are looking for this type of content. Being an effective thought leader means that you can build brand equity and your audience will trust what you have to say. This means that you have the opportunity to share your views and to shape the conversation.
How to Build Thought Leadership
Building thought leadership on social media won’t happen overnight. It takes time and dedication. Here are some of our top tips to help you build and boost your reputation as a thought leader.
1 | Create a Professional Profile
If you haven’t already, now is a good time to freshen up your social media profiles. As a thought leader, you represent your brand and everything it stands for, and often your social media profile photo and header graphic are that first impression. Make sure that your profile picture is professional looking. Then utilize any header/headline graphic to strengthen your expertise and add credibility. For example, one idea is to “advertise” your book in the header graphic.
2 | Know Your Audience
Make sure that you understand your target audience. It’s important to not only understand who that group of people is, but what kind of content they are looking for. Ask yourself, “What kind of questions does my target audience have and what can I offer to answer those questions?” Focus your content on those topics that appeal most to your target audience. Remember it is also best to position yourself as an expert within a niche of your industry. You may have a broad base of knowledge, but being a jack of all trades can often lead to being a master of none. The goal of being a thought leader is to be a master in your niche field.
3 | Quality and Timely Content
This should pretty much go without saying, but it is key that you provide quality and timely content on a regular basis. Thought leadership is more than just promoting a product. Rather, it is thoughtful and insightful. Be sure that you are sharing content that provides something meaningful to your audience. Here are some of our favorite ways to share quality content:
Articles: A blog is the perfect space to share your articles and thoughts. It gives you a chance to really dive into a topic and provide your audience with meaningful ideas. Then drive traffic to your blog by teasing your articles on your social profiles.
Videos: If you want a highly engaging way of sharing information, look no further than video. Make sure that your videos are well lit and professional looking. If you have a blog, consider doing a video that corresponds with a specific article and embed it in your blog post for extra engagement. Some of the best platforms to use video on include YouTube, Instagram (stories and IGTV) and Facebook.
Original Research: People respond to data. Providing facts and figures from surveys or research you have conducted can help identify you as an authority in your field. It also shows that your business is knowledgeable and on the cutting edge. It can show that you are serious, committed and that you are ahead of the curve, proving that you are the person to come to for the latest and best information.
When your audience begins to associate you with intriguing and helpful content, that is when you have an opportunity to make a big impact in thought leadership.
4 | Engage
There are two main ways to engage with your audience. The first is to simply engage with those who choose to interact with you on your posts. Answer additional questions they may pose, chime in on discussions, and acknowledge people who thank you for your helpful information. To get people to engage with you, ask them a question. Two examples include asking them to share their own ideas or asking them what topics they’d like to hear from you on.
Another way to engage is to join relevant groups and participate in discussions on LinkedIn and Facebook. This gives you access to like-minded people and gives you the opportunity to share your insights beyond your own social platforms. It even gives you the opportunity to network with other thought leaders in your industry.
5 | Network
And that leads us right into our next tip! Make sure that you network with other thought leaders and influencers in your industry. It is a great way to expand your own knowledge and gives you credibility at the same time. But don’t let these connections sit idle. You have the opportunity to collaborate with influencers in your industry that will amplify your voice and grow your audience.
6 | Generate Earned Media
Earned media is non-paid media coverage. You can generate this through pitching stories to targeted reporters and media outlets. Interviews, bylined articles, and op-eds are a great way to amplify your voice and grow your audience.
Becoming a thought leader in your industry opens up a wealth of marketing opportunities. Make sure that you take the time to produce quality content and engage with your audience. Once you have proven your worth, you’ll be able to reap all the benefits that come with being a thought leader.