Thought leadership is one of many marketing tactics you can implement to garner awareness for your brand, but to be successful you might need to shift your idea of what its application looks like today. A phrase that once triggered the image of a suit on stage in a drafty hotel conference room, modern thought leadership has expanded to include podcasts, LinkedIn and even Instagram. Traditional thought leadership formats of white papers, speeches and articles seem rather dull with all the avenues available today and savvy brands have realized that the advent and mass adoption of social media has increased the opportunity for brands to share knowledge and add a little color to how they convey their subject matter expertise.
Elevating your brand via thought leadership requires effort to stand out, but successfully doing so and positioning yourself as an expert in the field you operate in is the kind of invaluable metric that will continue to pay itself forward as you build out your overall growth strategy. While such a competitive space might seem intimidating, implementing new formats gives you the opportunity to create a strategy that best suits your brand and personality and forge your own path. Use traditional outlets and combine them with more modern social platforms to allow you to practice your messaging in multiple formats and diversify your outreach.
So, where to start? As with any well intentioned plan, begin by visualizing your end goals and work backward. Who is your customer and what expertise are you looking to show them that you and your brand have? Ultimately, what message do you have that is worth sharing and how are you most comfortable delivering those insights? Once you have that in mind, you can develop a strategy that infuses modern media platforms into a more traditional thought leadership pathway. By creating a hybrid methodology, your outreach makes sense to reach your customer and you choose formats that showcase your strengths.
Here are a few keys to remember as your build out your thought leadership strategy and determine which platforms to utilize as you start implementing applications like LinkedIn, industry podcasts, Medium, Quora, and even Twitter into more traditional thought leadership routes.
- Quality trumps quantity. If your goal is to be considered a thought leader, you are asking your audience to consider you a subject matter expert. As such, you need to approach whatever medium you pursue to relay your information with a measured approach and pack in an appropriate amount of information for the amount of time you’re requesting from your audience. One great nugget can stand alone on Twitter or Instagram, but five insights are likely best delivered in a more long-form format like a blog. Don’t attempt to pack a check list into a social media snippet and likewise, don’t ask people to listen to a 25 minute speech for one piece of actionable insight.
- Do your research. Who is talking about your area of expertise and what are they discussing? Talk about something intriguing and design your message to work best within whatever format you choose. Guest speaking on a podcast? Come prepared with soundbites that reflect your range of knowledge but are condensed for on-air consumption. Don’t be afraid to add in humor when appropriate, either.
- Be solution focused. No one wants to hear a sales pitch- we can do that work on our own by visiting your website. Instead, present a compelling storyline based on a problem you personally have had or seen in your industry and offer actual solutions to resolve it. Take advantage of the show & tell nature of social media to help your audience visualize a process in real time and reinforce your expertise.
- Make the effort you’ve put in on social media inform your greater thought leadership goals. Since traditional thought leadership formats like speeches at a conference don’t see as many concrete metrics, ensure that your larger concept talks are successful by taking a look at which of your tweets, articles and podcasts have performed the best and use that information to shape your live presentations.
Although the shape of thought leadership has changed with the advent of social media, the goal is the same: adding credibility to you and your organization/brand by relaying knowledge and experiences that have informed your successes and failures. Genuine enthusiasm about your subject matter translates no matter the medium and utilizing multiple formats to build a collective body of work will provide the foundation for a successful and modern thought leadership platform for your brand.