02-Dec-2019 11:41 AM Content Marketing
Whether you’re an entrepreneur new to the industry or an experienced veteran, it can be hard to carve out a following on social media. Sharing insightful posts and routinely engaging with followers might not be enough. Social media has experienced a paradigm shift with content no longer posted just for entertainment, but also for information. This “infotainment” trend has been around for quite a while. But never before has it taken on such a level of prominence. Conventional news media also recognizes this trend. Opinion articles are heavily featured on their social media pages and often rack up huge readership numbers.
With an aim to educate readers about the industry and the company, top-level executives turn towards thought leadership articles.
Publications like Forbes and Business Insider routinely feature thought leadership articles in the form of opinion articles on their websites. In fact, being a member of the Forbes Business Council gives you a direct line to millions of readers instantly. There is no better way to build credibility in your niche than by writing thought leadership articles. Through these articles, you’re not just trying to sell your products, rather, you are providing actual value to consumers, and that is truly priceless.
A thought leader is a person whose expertise and opinions are greatly valued and sought after in the niche that they are operating in. Most people have this misconception that thought leaders are the same as motivation/entrepreneur coaches. This is not right, though several of these “coaches” do try their best to make it seem like they are experts in their domain. Some even go the extent of publishing pointless books every now and then and even create websites with very little value to promote their brand. They also try to peddle their work into others’ content under the guise of adding value.
Many thought leaders do on occasion put out content that serves to motivate their followers, but that is not all they do. More often than not, their content serves to inform and educate the crowd following them.
Anyway, the defining characteristics of thought leaders are that they are genuine and love to help others. They are in it not just to build brand value or for the publicity, but they also provide content that is worth its weight in gold.
Take, for example, Edtech company Degreed. Their whitepapers and surveys are the talk of the Edtech world.
A thought leader’s words carry immense weight within the industry and novices usually look up to them for advice as they are getting started. Because of this, your content should be based on solid industry knowledge. Deep research and insights are the trademarks of a good thought leadership article. Infographics help too. In addition to livening up your article, they can also be shared by your readers with a link back to your article, thus increasing your brand value.
For startups, especially, showcasing domain knowledge can prove advantageous. As a new player, it is unlikely that consumers will take you up on your offerings. Thought leadership articles are an excellent way to let them know you know your stuff. Be sure to make your content free. Nothing annoys readers more than gated content (Looking at you, NYT).
Publications — online and offline — are always on the lookout for more content. Any editor would be delighted to feature an article from an industry expert. This is your chance to get some publicity for your personal brand or even for your company. In fact, several startups require their senior management to draft thought leadership articles every month. This helps build brand authority and will feature your brand on the top of Google search results.
This also feeds right into a good PR opportunity. Newsrooms and publications are always seeking expert insights. Reporters, bloggers, and influencers will get in touch with you, seeking your advice. And this leads to more publicity.
Make no mistake, thought leaders are already incredibly accomplished in their domain. But this doesn’t mean you can’t become one.
In a way, thought leaders are the more professional versions of social media influencers. Case in point — Neil Patel, the Wall Street Journal certified “top influencer on the web.”
A digital marketer by trade, Neil Patel started his journey as an avid blogger pumping out content on all things related to digital marketing. His long-form content — which was super helpful for beginners — turned him into an influencer of sorts. From here, his journey to becoming a thought leader was super quick. Neil Patel was hired as a consultant by companies looking to ramp up their marketing game. Suffice to say that whenever you search on Google for anything online marketing related, neilpatel.com is sure to feature in the top 10 results. He has branded himself into a thought leader in the sphere and people hang on to his every word.
And that’s the magic of content marketing: it can turn you from a nobody into a trusted expert.
As a thought leader, you’re not just restricted to writing blog articles. You can also slowly work to expand your influence through a YouTube channel or even start your own podcast or webinars. Of these, podcasts are really turning out to be game-changers. They are easy to consume — passive listening as opposed to active reading — and most people simply have no time to read a full-length article. They’d rather listen to a podcast while commuting or exercising.
The best benefit is that thought leadership content seems to be evergreen. If you’ve put serious effort into your work and done deep research, people will keep referring to your content and cite it numerous times. Most content online loses value over time as they get buried in the millions of articles published every day. But evergreen content is, well, evergreen. It will stay on top of the results page until someone else decides to do more serious work than you and try to topple you.
You still have the advantage here. All you need to do is update your existing content, and voila, you’re right back at the top.
The world needs to hear your expert opinions. Get writing now. Not sure where to get started? Consult with Verbinden.