In today’s competitive marketplaces, it’s not enough to just supply great products or services. Your customers must trust your brand. Trust is critical for gaining and retaining customers.
This is where thought leadership content comes in.
Thought leadership content provides authentic and valuable ideas, perspectives, insights, or opinions on a particular topic. It is the sharing of expertise. With thought leadership content, you can create a perception that your brand is an authority in your industry. When you have increased brand authority, people will trust you more. That can translate into more conversions for you.
But how do you create thought leadership content? Let’s dive in!
1. Know Your Audience
You already know how important this one is. Understanding your audience is the holy grail of successful marketing. Just think about it. Your thought leadership content won’t be read in the first place if it doesn’t give your audience what they want.
So, you need to get to know your audience on a personal level. What are their motivations, their confusions, their pain points?
Use customer surveys, interviews, and social media to get this data. Then create an audience persona, like the one above. An audience persona is a visual representation of your ideal audience. Documented personas serve as your guide when you’re creating thought leadership content.
For example, you may discover based on your persona that your audience is always on the lookout for social media trends. Then you may want to create content around this.
You should know who your audience likes, too. When deciding on your thought leader, it’s important for your audience to recognize and appreciate their credibility. But sit tight. We’ll look at this more in the next section.
2. Find the Right Thought Leader
Deciding on the author for your thought leadership content should be carefully considered. Thought leaders are often called subject matter experts. But their expertise doesn’t mean they need to be in great positions of power or leadership. Anyone in your company can be a thought leader, as long as they can bring unique knowledge, insights, and perspectives on the chosen content topic.
Don’t just seek a thought leader for their industry knowledge and expertise. Choose those who have innovative ideas and opinions they’re not afraid to voice. Ultimately, this is what will separate general content marketing pieces from thought leadership content.
Digital marketer Neil Patel, for instance, isn’t afraid of going against the grain. He voices his opinions even on his social media accounts. He provides data to back up his claims, too:
So whether you look to your C-suite, a team-leader or a sales advisor, just be sure they have the natural ability to educate others. Consider having a variety of thought leaders, too. The more topics you can discuss, the more audience you can appeal to.
3. Create Great Content
Okay, this might sound like an obvious one. But to really stand out from your competitors, your thought leadership content needs to be the crème de la crème. Unless you’re delivering deeper insights, discussing niche subjects, or challenging the status quo, your audience is likely to forget it after a few days.
So, whether you’re writing the content yourself or coordinating with a B2C or B2B PR agency to craft the quality content, the aim should be to leave your audience feeling informed with the piece.
Guided by your customer insights, select and research particular topics. Look at authoritative sources, industry publications, and social channels to see what other thought leaders are talking about. This should help identify what is currently out there, and then you should find the gaps.
Curate content by looking at what is trending right now and be quick to serve it out. New technologies, global challenges, or seasonal events are great ways of gaining engagement through thought leadership content. Include real-world examples and market-backed research for credibility.
For example, at the end of 2021, McKinsey posted the report ‘The State of AI in 2021’. The research found that 57% of executives said they believe cyber security to be a risk of AI. Now if you are a company that works in AI, or know your customers do, then this would be the perfect base topic for your content.
You could also conduct the studies yourself and come up with industry content that provides completely new insights. This is what Backlinko’s Brian Dean does. His study above is an example of this type of content.
The good thing about this content is that it doesn’t just help boost brand authority. It also helps you generate a lot of engagement. The piece above, for instance, has had over 5,000 shares and counting!
4. Publish Different Types of Content
Having varying audience types means the content formats they want to see will also differ. So, if you want to reach a lot of people, you need to create different types of content. The key is to go back to your customer persona and see the platforms your audience uses. The types of content published there should be the types of thought leadership content you should produce.
Blog posts are a common way to share thought leadership content. According to Semrush, 91% of organizations doing thought leadership create articles.
Videos, graphics, podcasts, webinars, or live talks are other excellent options for delivering your thought leadership content.
You can even opt for the traditional method. The outdoor clothing brand, Patagonia, for instance, also uses short films and even publishes a book every two years.
Don’t get me wrong. You don’t really need to create content on different topics for each platform. You could just use a single content piece and repurpose this so it will fit the requirements of each channel.
For instance, if you wrote an article on new content marketing trends, you could post this on your website as is, create an infographic based on it for Twitter, or create a video presentation based on it for YouTube.
5. Promote Your Content in Other Ways
Now that you have great content across your chosen platforms, the only thing left to do is to get it even more out there. The more comprehensive your content distribution strategy, the more exposure you can get for your thought leadership content.
You could reach out to journalists, publications, or websites that have previously posted similar content. Prepare a strong argument for why they should be promoting your content. Usually, though, if you created high-quality content that provides new industry insights, you’re more likely to get your content published on those platforms without any difficulty.
Even other people in the industry will help you promote your content by sharing it on their own social media platforms. See below how a senior human resources recruiter not affiliated with BambooHR shared the company’s study on the so-called Great Resignation phenomenon:
You could leverage your employees, too. After all, Forbes has reported that content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels.
Clever tactics, such as creating a QR code for a pdf are another inexpensive way of gaining new traffic to your thought leadership content. With strategic placement, a QR code can take potential customers offline to online in one easy and direct move. They can read your content from there.
The bottom line is this: Ensure you don’t miss any significant opportunities to captivate an audience.
Creating thought leadership content might not be a quick and easy win. However, any company, no matter what the size, can benefit from including thought leadership marketing in its content strategy.
Just remember to always start with your audience and pinpoint what will give them the most value. Take your time selecting your thought leader who will truly echo the values and passions of your own brand. Create multiple content formats to reach as many people as possible. Finally, promote your high-quality content in other ways.
Follow these tips and you’ll give your brand authority a huge boost. Good luck!
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