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Do you want to be one of, if not the, go-to person or brand for information on a specific topic or niche? Most businesses or people who go after the thought leader status seek to expand their current brand power and reputation. Others use thought leadership for consulting, or other income sources based on their deep, specialist knowledge.
Whatever your motives may be for thought leadership, it’s important you understand everything it entails. This time, we’ll be going over the ins and outs of becoming a thought leader, gaining traction, and securing your position further. You might be surprised to find that these points often come back to content creation.
Image via Flickr by dierk schaefer
The only way to be seen as a top source of ideas in an industry is to consistently demonstrate top quality ideas and promote the content containing them. At the beginning, which is likely where you are now, it will feel like trying to dig a hole to the other side of the Earth. But you don’t have to shovel your way alone, and in fact, you definitely shouldn’t, as you risk facing burnout.
In the beginning, you will find easy footing by connecting with influencers, those who are already seen as something close to a thought leader in the same niche, or a similar one. Naturally, if your industry is an opinionated one, you’ll want to work with influencers who share your opinions and sentiments. Do collaborative content whenever possible, such as being a guest blog poster or podcast visitor, or merely build a rapport on social media and be a part of conversations relevant to your business. But what sort of content is best for becoming a thought leader?
There’s no source of written content quite so old, time-tested, and credible as books. If you want to establish yourself or your brand as a thought leader, one key tactic is to put several of your fundamental ideas and research into a single volume. It can be released digitally for free as something akin to an extra-long article, but you’ll get more of a reputation boost if it’s full length and sold in stores. Releasing and distributing it in print is that final step worth considering if you have the budget and/or experience with publishing.
Once you have a book with a bit of buzz and positive reaction around it, thousands of other doors open. You can give talks at live events, do interviews, and command the attention of many more influencers, all with your literature telling more people about you. Then, of course, you could write another book and do it all over on an even grander scale. There’s a reason why already famous people choose to write books, and it’s because it’s like a little brochure reminding people all around the world of them and their ideas.
While a book is an excellent way to get your most important ideas spread among your industry, frequent blog posts or articles are a nice way to draw people with a more casual or beginner interest. For instance, while a dentist might release a book on some startling new dentistry methods, the same dentist’s blog might have more elementary content that addresses a single problem briefly, such as whether certain treatments are effective for sensitive teeth.
Draw in casual visitors with an SEO-optimized collection of short-form content, and make your book visible on the same site, but not obtrusively so. You’ll add to your audience and grab more people just as they’re getting more interest in your field. This is particularly powerful because they will rely heavily on the information you provide as they dig deeper into this new interest. You can gain some of your most passionate supporters, a sort of street team, through your regular blog commenters.
Now that we’ve covered the best types of content to invest in for both passionate industry enthusiasts and more casual passersby, let’s go over the most potent, cheap, and easy source of promotion for all the content you make: social media. Google loves websites and brands that succeed in the social media world, and that can turn into a growing snowball of influence that ranks your websites on the top of results pages.
Check whatever’s trending on the major sites you use, especially Twitter, where trends are particularly influential. If there’s something you can talk about or feature that’s relevant to the people using and watching a trending topic, for example, go ahead and release it to the world and enjoy the boost in engagement. Don’t force it, though, because your credibility will suffer if you’re chasing every trend possible.
There will come a point in your journey that you find people regularly coming to you on social media with questions, or beginners similar to how you started asking if they can collaborate with you. This is the golden moment, where you realize you are finally a thought leader. However, that’s the beginning, not the end. From here, much like creating a startup, you have different avenues to take. You could focus on expanding your audience demographics, such as an automobile expert introducing younger people to automotive care, or drive charity events to causes that matter in your industry.
You could even focus on using your position to strengthen your related business and draw in extra funds with consulting and paid speaking gigs. The possibilities are virtually endless, and there’s no wrong answer, so your continued growth as a thought leader becomes a fun journey.
Above everything discussed so far, to become a thought leader you’ll need to present good ideas that succeed in the intellectual marketplace. However, the world’s libraries are full of good ideas that many people will never see. Put simply, you need accessible content that not only explains your ideas, but makes them shine to even the disinterested, let alone your target audience.
Professional copywriters, videographers, web designers, visual content designers, and more will all set your content apart and design whatever you need, and they’re all experienced at getting results for their clients. The journey to being a thought leader can be a lot shorter if you take the right steps and present the best standards in modern content, so save yourself the frustration and take the route that’s worked for so many others in the past.