15 Jun Building Influence Through Thought Leadership
Many executives, particularly those in business-to-business (B2B) industries like consulting, architecture, engineering, law, financial services, and technology, have a common goal with their digital presence: to establish themselves as a credible business leader in their field with a strategic thought leadership program.
As we mentioned in a previous blog post, millennials are now a key part of the workforce, meaning that they are both potential talent and potential customers for your brand. As these millennials often turn to social media to learn more about brands, having an influential executive’s voice speaking for your business is crucial to gaining both their attention and their trust. Once an executive has successfully positioned themselves as an industry expert, they will no longer have to constantly seek out sales inquiries, speaking and media opportunities, and increased visibility themselves. Rather, they will receive an increasing flow of inbound inquiries driven by their own expert position.
Of course, this is easier said than done. When working towards building a position of thought leadership, there are several things that every executive should be thinking about:
In order to stand out from other influencers in the industry, it is absolutely necessary for thought leaders to create a strong positioning and distinct voice. Defining this identity will initially take some time and research to understand the nuances of the industry, audience and competition.
In order to stand out from other influencers in the industry, it is absolutely necessary for thought leaders to create a strong positioning and distinct voice.
If you find it difficult to stand out from other thought leaders, consider focusing on a smaller niche, especially as you get started. It will be challenging to compete with already established thought leaders in larger industries and thought spaces, so narrowing your scope to an industry segment or sub-space will consequently narrow down your competitors and allow you to stand out as a deep expert. For example, rather than the broad industry of ‘content creation’, the more niche industry of ‘video content creation for Instagram marketing’ may yield more opportunities.
Become a valuable resource
This distinct voice and identity must also be rooted in substantial and insightful content. Thought leadership is not about surface-level chatter, but rather about deep insight and thoughtful perspectives. This means developing a steady cadence of owned long-form content to be shared and amplified on social media, alongside expert commentary on industry news and relevant 3rd-party articles.
This owned content can take a variety of forms, such as blogs, white papers, and short commentary pieces about recent events in your industry. All these reports give you an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and build your credibility. However, unsurprisingly, the most important content pieces for a thought leader are the ones that share their own deep thoughts and expertise. Pieces that showcase the unique perspective that you’ve already carefully cultivated are the most valuable tool that you can use. These pieces can be opinions on recent events, or even just sharing an experience you’ve had that others may find useful.
The advice and ideas you share and the conversations you initiate will have a hand in shaping the next generation of experts in your industry.
By creating useful and engaging content, you will become a valuable resource for others in your industry, and by encouraging interaction from your followers, your platform will become a place they go to share their own knowledge and experiences. The advice and ideas you share and the conversations you initiate will have a hand in shaping the next generation of experts in your industry. They will look to you for guidance, inspiration, and possibly even work.
Get active and stay active
Once you have a strong voice and valuable content that sets you apart from your competitors, you need to get active on your social media platforms. With all the initial research you’ve already done, locate the top influencers and follow them across platforms. In this way, you can build your network and begin getting your profile on the industry’s radar.
However, you must do more than just follow these accounts. Engage with these accounts to insert yourself into the conversation and to increase your visibility. Like, share, and comment on quality posts. Encourage your followers to share their thoughts about your posts, and then respond to them to show you value their participation in the conversation. When you engage with others on social media, you gain exposure from their followers and even indirectly boost your own SEO. Joining groups on social media will also increase your visibility and help connect you to relevant followers, other influencers, and potential partners and customers.
Becoming not only an established member of the community, but a leader of the community is a large undertaking. However, if you keep these three tips in mind, the benefits that effective thought leadership will bring to your brand will be well worth it.
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