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What Is Thought Leadership?

What Is Thought Leadership?
Written by Brenda Percy

What is thought leadership? Thought leadership refers to positioning yourself as an expert in your niche and as someone who is a reliable source of credible information.

Thought leadership equals originality. A thought leader is often a pioneer in their field, touching on points that haven’t been discovered before. Thought leaders aren’t afraid to take risks and they embrace their uniqueness. Thought leadership helps you stand out and helps develop trust between you and your audience.

Does that sound like something you’d like to aspire to?

Let’s explore thought leadership best practices, how you can apply these concepts yourself and why you’d want to.

How to position yourself as a thought leader

While you can’t manufacture popularity, there are some steps you can take to stand out from others.

  • Be yourself: You have a unique perspective that no one else can offer. When you tap into that and provide that perspective to your audience, you’re creating something that’s not reproducible to others. Over time, you’ll hone your brand voice and your audience will know it’s you before they even see your byline.
  • Be consistent: If you’re providing valuable content, that’s based on your audience’s needs, they’ll keep coming back because they want to hear more from you. If they come back to find silence, you risk losing what you’ve built. Consistency is key to keeping your audience enthralled and keeping them subscribed–figuratively and literally.
  • Take the time to get to know your audience: To truly provide value to your audience, you need to know them. Do some research, and find out who the majority of your readers are. Create content based on that research and provide them with value.

How do you know when you’re considered a thought leader?

While anyone can call themselves a thought leader, it’s not a term that is meant to be self-appointed. So, how will you know if you’ve made it? Your audience will tell you.

Maybe not in so many words, but you’ll know from questions that are asked, referrals that are sent your way. Another good indicator is whether your audience is sharing your content with their peers.

If they’re taking the time out to share your stuff, it means you’ve resonated with them and they want to share your insights.

So, while you won’t appoint yourself as a thought leader, you’ll see the signs that you have been considered as a thought leader in your niche.

Thought leadership best practices

Keep the following in mind to become and remain a thought leader:

  • Create content around your audience’s challenges and how you can solve them
  • Post your content on your social media channel
  • Communicate with your audience — ask questions and respond to all questions
  • Guest post on relevant sites–this allows you to expand your reach and get in front of new audiences

Benefits of thought leadership

The ultimate goal of thought leadership is to be recognized as an expert in your niche. In doing so, you’ll grow your blog readership and your following on social media. The more people read and share your content, the more you’ll gain brand awareness.

Examples of excellent thought leadership

Looking for inspiration? Look no further than the brands below that have mastered the art of thought leadership:

  1. American Express’s Business Class Blog focuses on the needs of its audience by providing tips for business success.
  2. Best-selling author Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution Blog sets out to change the stereotypes about introverts and provides helpful resources geared toward the introverted.
  3. Beauty brand Dove created campaigns that provide content on beauty equality and initiated a conversation around widening the view of beauty.
  4. Video marketing software, Wistia, provides content geared toward their readers’ challenges, in an easy-to-navigate format that allows you to find what you need, quickly.
  5. Serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk churns out an impressive amount of content on a daily basis. Everything from living life without regrets to business development topics.
“You have a unique perspective that no one else can offer. When you tap into that and provide your perspective to your audience, you’re creating something that’s not reproducible to others.” #thoughleadership Click To Tweet

About the author

Brenda Percy

Brenda Percy is a writer and editor with a background in technology, marketing and journalism. She's written content for businesses of various sizes and industries throughout her nearly two decades of experience.

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