If you’re in the midst of building a marketing strategy, there’s one thing you can’t afford to overlook: thought leadership.
Thought leadership benefits both the individual cultivating their reputation and the company they work for. Not only does it help an organization increase brand equity and grow their community, but it can also generate leads and shorten the sales cycle.
To put this another way, social media has become the medium marketers use to build thought leadership. The reason it works so well is simple: social platforms are based on the premises of sharing, connecting and interacting … all of which are essential components of successful thought leadership.
Here’s what you need to know about thought leadership and social media, and how to marry the two for your organization.
Building a Roadmap for Thought Leadership
Good thought leadership doesn’t just happen. Instead, you’ve got to develop a solid plan for implementing it and watching it flourish in your organization. Here are the five keys to success in that process, and a brief breakdown of each:
1. Have a Plan
You don’t just become a thought leader overnight. Instead, you’ve got to come up with a plan for positioning yourself as a leader in your industry.
The approach to this is varied, but always essential. Depending on your industry, you might spend some time thinking about what your niche is, what you specialize in, and what you can offer, uniquely, to your readers.
These are the things that inform and support your thought-leadership for years to come.
2. Understand Your Audience
Once you understand your position as a thought-leader, you’ve got to understand the people you’re speaking to. Who is your audience? What are their pain points? How old are they? Where do they work? If you’ve never developed a marketing persona, now is a great time to take that step.
Even if you’re not trying to “sell” your audience, developing a marketing persona is a great way to hammer out the details about your audience, and ensure you’re speaking to them in a way they can understand and identify with.
3. Start Creating Content That Matters
You’ve defined your audience and positioned yourself in your niche, now it’s time to go! The next step is to start creating content that supports and uplifts your readers. What you create, of course, will depend largely on your audience and industry. No matter what, though, it should always be intelligent, supportive, and informative.
Tim Ferriss is a great example of a thought-leader that does this well. Although he’s not everyone’s ‘cup of tea,’ so to speak, he does have a laser-focused understanding of his audience, and he knows how to provide content that they can sink their teeth into.
Follow suit with recommendations, personal stories, pain point-focused content, and more.
4. Be Authentic and Interactive
Being a thought leader isn’t the same thing as being a marketer. If you try to “sell” your audience in this position, you’re going to lose their trust immediately. Instead, you’ve got to focus on being authentic and interactive, as much and as frequently as possible.
This means sharing personal stories, telling your audience about your struggles, outlining your processes, and linking your business dealings to your personal interests. When people respond to your materials, it also means interacting with those supporters, providing your feedback, and thanking them for their interactions.
5. Connect to Other Influencers and Thought Leaders
Enter the magic of social media! If you want to drive your position as a thought leader forward, you’ve got to leverage your network and connect with other thought leaders. Luckily, social media is one of the best ways to do this.
If you’re going to be a social media influencer, you’ve got to connect with and participate with other thought leaders in your space. Not only does this open the possibility of partnerships and collaborations, but it makes your social media marketing much more effective down the road, and can help you drive your brand forward the smart way.
The Case for Thought Leadership
Thought leadership is no longer a “nice to have,” but a need to have in our competitive and content-saturated digital world.
Unfortunately, most thought leaders take a “spray and pray” approach to social interaction – putting out low-quality, poorly arranged content across dozens of platforms and hoping something sticks. If you want to succeed in the world of thought leadership and social media marketing, it’s essential to take a more targeted approach.
This is where social media comes in. Social media makes it possible to connect intelligently with your audience, share the valuable content they need, and build strong and long-lasting relationships with other thought leaders in your space. When used correctly, it has the potential to be a major perk for your business, and an essential addition to your social media marketing quiver.
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