By Sogi Chukwuanu
Neil Patel. Oprah. Gordon Ramsay.
Three people working in completely different fields, but they all have one thing in common. They’re all considered experts in their industries.
Thought leadership content is an effective tool for elevating your personal and professional brand and establishing yourself as a credible authority within your niche. But what exactly is it? And how do you build a strong thought leadership strategy in 2024?
Let’s find out.
What is thought leadership?
In very simple terms, thought leadership is about three things:
- Creating and delivering value.
- Taking a firm stance.
- Driving change through knowledge shared.
It involves sharing authentic content that not only reflects your expertise, unique insights, and lived experiences, but also provides immense value for your audience. With thought leadership, you’re not just sharing content for content’s sake but ensuring that every single piece of content you create achieves the three goals outlined above.
A lot of people (erroneously) believe that to be a thought leader, you need to have (and share) unpopular or controversial opinions. But that’s not the case. This infographic from Orbit Media’s study shows that while a strong point of view is important, controversy isn’t the golden ticket to thought leadership.
What type of thought leadership content should you be creating?
Thought leadership can manifest in various forms, such as books, educational webinars, counter-narrative opinions, and so on. To find out more about these forms, pause here and check out our blog, 5 Types Of Thought Leadership Content To Help You Build Authority.
Once you’ve done this, return to this page, and let’s carry on.
How to build an efficient thought leadership strategy
If you’re thinking of becoming a thought leader in 2024, here are five steps that can help you build a powerful and effective strategy.
1. Define your goals
As with any part of your marketing and business efforts, the first step to building a powerful thought leadership strategy is to define your goals. What do you want to achieve by positioning yourself as a thought leader? Increased brand awareness? More leads for your business?
As part of our briefing sessions with new clients, we recommend that you visualise the exact results you want to achieve. Having a clear picture of your goals will help you frame your strategy around each one and increase your chances of success.
2. Analyse your competitors
Once you’ve defined your goals, it’s time to see what thought leadership content already exists within your niche. You need a clear understanding of all the current thought leadership trends, ideas, and issues within your industry. This way, you’re not just shouting into a void or creating content nobody needs. Instead, you can build immediate traction by making sure you’re talking about relevant topics from the get-go.
Look out for news resources, company blogs, and LinkedIn commentary, as well as webinars and conferences. What stance are your competitors taking? What channels are they leveraging to deliver their thought leadership content?
Studying other thought leaders within your niche not only provides some great insights for building your strategy but can also show you what NOT to do as a thought leader.
3. Find your stance and identify your business’ thought leaders
Having analysed your competitors, what stance do YOU want to take? It’s important to comb through your content archives to assess your past opinions on certain topics. This way, you’re not contradicting yourself by taking a new stance that opposes any content you’ve previously put out.
While there’s nothing wrong with your organisation changing its position on certain topics (especially when presented with new knowledge), you have to acknowledge your past opinion and provide reasons for the change. Otherwise, you lose credibility.
Once you’ve identified your organisation’s definite stance on trending topics, it’s time to think about WHO will be creating the thought leadership content. If you’re focusing on personal thought leadership, you’ll have to either do this yourself or outsource it.
However, if you’re creating a thought leadership strategy for your business/organisation, it’s important to think about who your thought leaders will be. In many cases, this role often falls to the CEO and the top-level employees.
But this doesn’t mean that other subject matter experts within your organisation can’t provide thought leadership content. Think about whether there is anyone else within your business who fits the bill as a potential thought leader and get them on board.
4. Create and promote your thought leadership content
Now, it’s time to start creating your thought leadership content. If you’ve followed steps one through three and read our guide on the different types of thought leadership content, you should already have an idea of what type of content you want to create.
In many cases, writing thought leadership articles is a great way to start your journey. Some thought leaders might also choose to write books or start a podcast series. Regardless of the route you choose to take, ensure that you have a well-thought-out strategy for this part of the process.
Sure, having a strategy within a strategy can seem complicated, but if you don’t have a plan for your content production and promotion, you’ll be flying blind, which can yield disastrous results.
Once you’ve created your content, think about how you’re going to get it out there. You could promote it via your company’s existing marketing channels, collaborate with other experts for wider reach, or even think about running sponsored ads.
5. Measure your results against your goals
Remember the goals you set in step one? Now, it’s time to revisit them and gauge whether your thought leadership strategy has performed well. There are a number of metrics you could use to measure this, such as:
- Social media engagement and audience growth
- Number of leads generated
- Actual sales and lead conversions
- Organic traffic
- Backlinks, etc.
The metrics you choose to measure should be dependent on the goals you set earlier on. For instance, if your goal was to raise brand awareness, you’d want to look at your organic traffic, backlinks, leads, and every other metric that suggests that people are becoming more familiar with your brand.
I hope you’ve found this blog helpful.
If you’d like some support to get started on your thought leadership journey, book a free Clarity Call to find out how our team of experts can help.