When and How to Use Thought Leadership

TSP • @myTSPnet


“Thought Leadership” is a common buzzword you may have heard around the office or on social media, but what does it really mean and how do you use it? Lucky for you, we're breaking down the idea of thought leadership and how it can be utilized in a specific industry to build a personal brand or business.

According to Google Trends, the interest of thought leadership as a search term has increased since 2004. There are many benefits to utilizing thought leadership including reputation management, positive public relations and an increase in visibility and sales. Thought leadership is defined by the Marketing Insider Group as a type of content marketing where you tap into the talent, experience and passion inside your business, or from your community, to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience on a particular topic.

Typically, thought leadership is used by executives and companies to provide insights and recommendations, thus “leading” the audience’s “thoughts” about a certain topic or issue. Putting the jargon and business terms aside, the use behind thought leadership is created by the admirable ambition of being viewed as a credible industry expert — one who cuts through the “noise” and offers content worth reading.

To start using thought leadership, you must first establish yourself as a thought leader on a certain topic. This status cannot be achieved through a single article, media post or networking event. You should build credibility, as well as your professional resume and portfolio, to be trusted long term. To boost your industry presence, it’s important to work with mentors, attend networking events and get published as often as you can.

When picking your topic, you should clarify your area of expertise and stick to it. Think about what you could talk about passionately, or what experiences you have that are unique to you or your company and keep it clear and concise. Some topics could include real estate, fashion, technology, business, marketing, public relations, energy, fitness — the list goes on.

However, don’t try to be a thought leader in every area of your industry. Instead, focus on a certain area and hone in on a specific message repeatedly. It’s important to stay on top of trends in the industry of your choosing to make sure your audience is learning something new from you each time you post.

Before beginning your journey as a thought leader, you must establish your social media channels. Using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a personal website (e.g. blog) are great ways to begin building your credibility. Sharing your work and thoughts on social media is a great way to build a sound reputation before becoming a thought leader. But remember, you won’t become a thought leader if no one is following your social media channels. There are many research-backed methods to increasing your social media followers, but our recommendation is to post consistently and engage with your network. Doing so will not only build a following, but loyalty as well.

To effectively stand out from the other leaders in your industry, you must do your research when it comes to your topic. When researching, try identifying the questions your consumers are asking about the industry or topic. Once identified, make a list and prioritize. Then, find the best expert to answer those questions — whether it’s you or another member of your company. Answer these questions across multiple formats and channels that add value to your audience — you don’t want your consumers to hunt for the answer.

Finally, create your thought leadership content in a way that's accessible and engaging to your followers. Remember, you're the expert, not the reader. Make sure you're giving your audience all the information because your goal is to educate them. Don’t assume they know something — spell it out for them. In addition, don’t be afraid to add a little humor and character in your thought leadership content. Your audience trusts you, so don’t hesitate to show off some personality.

As they say, the world is your oyster. Take advantage of the opportunity that has been presented to you. Thought leaders can emerge from the lowest strata of a company or can be someone sitting behind the biggest desk in the office. There is no secret formula — everyone carries the potential to become a thought leader.

Consider consulting an experienced team of marketing strategists to get the perfect brand pitch and channels for your content. Thought leadership doesn’t have to be a mystery. If you do it right, you’ll find it not only gives you more time to be creative and influence others, but it will also bring more business your way.