Think you’ve got what it takes to become a thought leader in your industry? Want to expand your following of supporters who believe in your business and ascribe to your industry know-how? Looking to put together a thought leadership strategy?
Before you jump from a successful business owner to a famous industry leader, you have a lot of work to do. You need to build a strong foundation of followers to share your well-crafted content with to build your credibility in the industry.
If you’re looking to grow your personal brand through thought leadership, here are some best practices and tips on how to get started!
How to Get Started with Thought Leadership
Thanks to the internet, it’s easier (and more difficult) than ever to get discovered. While you can market yourself from anywhere and be found by anyone with an internet connection, everyone else with an internet connection can do exactly the same thing, making the competition pretty intense.
So how do you set yourself apart? What unique angles and strategies do you employ in your field that make you worth listening to? Your unique point of view is exactly what sets you apart and gives you your best chance at standing out. If all you promote in your content is the currently accepted best practices of your industry, why should people listen to you? To create thought leadership, you need to bring something new to the table.
Figuring out your unique strengths will help you determine your strongest marketing points.
Platforms to Promote On
Once you figure out what aspects to emphasize in your content, it’s time to create content! Here are some places on the internet where you need to be particularly active.
No matter what social media you choose to build a following on, it’s vital to have a website to send them back to. Blog posts give you a chance to flesh out your ideas fully, rather than restricting yourself to a character count on Twitter.
Your social media accounts are a great way to gather a following and inspire people with short, shareable clips of content, but you need to have a more substantial place of learning for people to navigate to.
Getting people to sign up for your email list is essential to creating a lasting audience; when you use someone else’s platform, you could lose your audience at any time. Maybe your account gets hacked, maybe your content gets flagged and your account gets deleted: nowhere on the internet do you have nearly as much control as you do on your own website.
Twitter works well as a place to share links to your blog alongside catchy quotes and quick, hot takes you have on the industry. You only have so many characters to share your opinion, so you need to make your point quickly, sharply, and powerfully. Statements that go against the grain and thoughts that people will resonate with both perform well on the platform.
Twitter is a place where your ideas can have a bit of an edge; if you pull someone in with a controversial statement, they’re more likely to click the link to your blog to learn more. Just make sure your blog is well-written enough that you can support the claims you make!
Instagram is the place for colorful, bright graphics and shareable content. Designing aesthetically pleasing quotes in the photo and elaborating in the description will help people gravitate towards your ideas and engage with your content.
Links are more difficult to share here, as you can only have one in your bio, so many sure your content stands alone.
Facebook works well if you’re catering to a middle-aged or older audience. Blogs and news articles are easy to share here, and it’s easy for your audience to comment with their opinions and engage in discussions with other readers.
Here, you’ll want to mix up your content: share bright images as you do on Instagram, write longer posts about your thoughts, spread news about your upcoming events, and post links to your blogs for people to check out.
One way to really cement your credibility in the industry and expand your audience wider than your current circle is by giving interviews to respected publications or submitting your own work for publication. Having your work published under a well-known brand is an excellent addition to your resume and proves that a respected publication values your insight, and so should your followers. When you give your interview or write your author bio, make sure to give links to your site and socials so people can follow you and learn more on your blog.
Develop Your Thought Leadership Strategy
Now that you cultivated an online following and have developed your personal branding, it’s time to continue building credibility outside of social media.
How can you build yourself up for long-term success?
Writing your first book? Booking speaking engagements at conferences? Hosting your own online event? Starting a weekly livestream?
How can you engage with your target audience in a way that permanently resonates with them?
If you’re planning to open up yourself to in-person events, have a page dedicated to accepting inquiries for future event booking. If possible, list your past events and link videos to highlights from the event to show what you’re capable of.
But if you’re just getting started, you’ll need to do the legwork in reaching out to different conferences and venues to see if they need speakers. If you went to college, contact your alma mater’s department to see if they are interested in having you speak at an event for students in your field. If you know of an upcoming conference in your industry, contact the organizers to see if they are interested in having you speak at their event.
Before starting to seek in-person speaking engagements, get experience and a resume for these events by hosting your own. Once you’ve built up your following, invite them to online events that you host. The stronger your online presence, the more successful the events will be.
You want engaged, loyal followers, not disinterested ones. Your thought leadership marketing will work more successfully if you have a lower number of followers but a more dedicated group than a large number of disinterested followers.
Whatever product or service you sell, you have the power to become an industry expert. All it takes is a dedication to your craft, a well-cultivated social following, and a work ethic to carry you through.
If you’re looking to learn more about growing your business and your following, join Women’s Business Daily! We offer the tools to help you succeed in social media and the connections you need to build your brand.