The term “thought leadership” is frequently used, particularly in the context of digital marketing. Depending on who you ask, it could be a goal to strive for, a reputation to strive for, or a career-defining condition.
But how exactly does one get there?
Is there a tried-and-true method for establishing a reputation for thought leadership?
People don’t buy what we do; rather, they buy why we do it, which is an intriguing way of doing business. They are more likely to follow in the footsteps of those who share their beliefs and principles. Based on this, leaders who do not clearly communicate to their audiences what motivates them are less likely to succeed.
Trust is founded on this alignment of beliefs. This, in turn, leads to the formation of thought leadership.
However, in order to successfully build thought leadership, one must first understand what it truly entails. Thought leadership is defined as “the process of becoming a leading authority in your chosen industry,” according to a LinkedIn article.
According to the article’s author, Jo Macdermott, some ways to accomplish this include providing up-to-date information about the industry’s latest trends and developments, creating useful content for the audience based on verifiable sources, and presenting yourself as someone who is truly knowledgeable about your field.
How to Include Thought Leadership in Your Personal Branding
However, becoming a thought leader is a time-consuming process that necessitates dedication and patience. You can’t become a true thought leader with just a few articles, and you certainly can’t call yourself one. It takes time and involves more than one aspect of your personal branding to establish your authority.
Here are five simple but effective steps you can take to achieve thought leadership.
1) Consistently publish high-quality content that will help you gain the trust of your target audience.
Make an effort to maintain a steady flow of high-quality content. This will not only help you become more visible on the internet, but it will also help you establish credibility.
When the topic of content is brought up, blog posts are usually the first thing that comes to mind. And for good reason: regular blogging has been shown to benefit your digital marketing campaign in terms of overall traffic, search engine rankings, and audience growth. You can also do guest blogging for other websites that have similar demographics to yours.
However, don’t limit yourself to this content format. You can collaborate with creative professionals to create branded content that perfectly matches your vision. Explore the possibilities of your content marketing strategy, from compelling videos to shareable infographics, inspirational quotes to live streams.
2) Gather and conduct original research to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
When we talk about original research, we mean pieces that are informative and contain specific, quantifiable data. Case studies, special reports, surveys, and questionnaires are a few examples.
You can even cite authoritative sources and share their insights with your audience, regardless of industry. However, make sure to include your own perspective on the matter. If there’s one thing a thought leader should always have, it’s a point of view to share.
The reason this works so well is that your audience will feel more intelligent after reading your content. People look to you as a thought leader to teach them new things that they can apply in their life, career, or business.
Through thought leadership, you can create learning experiences while solidifying your reputation as someone who uses credible sources and verifies information before sharing it – in other words, someone your target audience can trust.
3) For personal branding purposes, have professionally written social media profiles as well as a great website.
Simply put, your online presence must be stellar. If you want to be perceived as a thought leader, there are no exceptions.
I don’t mean to oversell yourself. You won’t be constantly promoting yourself on social media. However, you must have a strong social media presence simply because you must have a platform from which to be seen and heard.
Thought leadership is not something that happens at the drop of a hat. That is why it is critical for you to not only be present on social media, but also to ensure that your efforts on each individual platform contribute to your overall goal.
This includes being present on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and any other social media sites where your target audience can be found. It also entails creating a well-planned calendar of activities rather than relying on a single magical video or post to be shared and re-shared.
Though it may sound strange, thought leadership becomes more feasible through bombardment rather than virality. Campaigns that embrace and reflect your personal brand can help you demonstrate your thought leadership.
You will also require a good, search engine-optimized website to serve as your digital home. Having a professional website boosts your credibility, allowing your audience to see you as a figure they can rely on for information.
4) Be ubiquitous in the way that a thought leader should be.
As previously stated, visibility is an important aspect of thought leadership. Of course, visibility won’t help you much if you don’t take action.
As a thought leader, you must be firm in your beliefs, consistent in your messaging, and conscientious in the creation and dissemination of your content. To put it another way, you must be dedicated. The term “thought leader” implies that you must be at the forefront of introducing concepts and ideas to your audience. To put it simply, you must become ubiquitous.
You can make your presence known in a variety of ways, both offline and online. In addition to your content strategy, you can organize community events, share your knowledge through talks and other public speaking engagements, and make friends with other thought leaders in your industry.
But keep in mind that you should avoid making promises you can’t keep or promoting something that doesn’t exist. For example, generating interest in a webinar that isn’t yet live will almost certainly backfire on you. It will erode your credibility, making the path to becoming a respected thought leader even more difficult to navigate.
Finally, you’re attempting to be a thought leader rather than a hero. Not every campaign (or audience member) requires you to tell a hero story. There’s no need for you to overestimate yourself. Allow your audience to determine how they perceive you by providing content that demonstrates how much they rely on you.
5) Engage in social media to build a loyal community, trust, and credibility.
Someone once said, “We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves.” “And it is those who begin with “why?” who can inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.”
I previously stated that developing your social media presence is an important step toward thought leadership. Creating an account, however, is only half the battle. Help people understand what makes you tick, and you’ll be perceived as someone they can talk to – someone with whom they can connect.
This can be accomplished by sharing content that may be of interest to your target market as well as participating in lively online discussions. Make yourself known while staying up to date on industry news, and keep in mind that you are writing primarily for your target audience.
This should go without saying: hard-selling yourself is NOT the way to thought leadership. Learn humility and allow your products and services to serve as your strongest proof that you know what you’re talking about. Prioritize the audience instead: what do they want? What do they require?
At the end of the day, trust is the most important prerequisite on your path to thought leadership. You will not be considered an authority on your subject of expertise if your target audience does not perceive you as a figure or personality worthy of their trust, no matter how hard you try to market yourself as such.
It’s one thing to declare yourself to be important in your industry; it’s quite another to have others attest to the fact that you ARE important. And believe me, you want the latter rather than the former.
Thought leadership brings not only increased credibility, but also an increased likelihood that people will want to listen to what you have to say or teach them – even to the point of paying for your services. There is no way around it: experts are paid more.
While money should not be your primary motivation, thought leadership is an absolute must if you want to establish yourself firmly in your industry and be able to sustain yourself while sharing your knowledge and expertise with your audience.
Personal branding is no longer just a buzzword. It really is necessary. According to the top branding statistics, people remember a brand after 5 to 7 impressions. Color can increase brand recognition by up to 80%. Because of helpful customer service, 73 percent of consumers love a brand. Consistently presenting a brand across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%.
Look up for more branding statistics online and learn the steps to creating your own branding strategy so you can go out and spread the word unanimously.
With social media’s growing popularity, don’t forget to represent your brand on the channels your customers use. It can provide you with a lot of exposure as well as new leads.
Begin your journey to becoming a thought leader today and reap the benefits of a devoted fan base and increased sales.