What is thought leadership? 

Thought leadership refers to positioning yourself or your brand as an expert in a niche who is a reliable source of credible information.

Thought leadership focuses on originality. It touches on points that other industry professionals have yet to discover. Leaders are the ones who take the first step. They aren’t afraid to take risks and embrace their unique perspective. 

thought leadership infographic

The main goal of thought leadership content marketing is to not overtly promote products or services. Instead, it focuses on building credibility by sharing original ideas and expert opinions. That credibility creates a trust that attracts and engages your audience on a whole new level. This practice increases:

  • Brand visibility
  • Customer loyalty
  • Potential business opportunities 

Why is thought leadership so important?

The internet has made everyone with an opinion into an “expert.” There’s such an oversaturated marketplace of “thought.” That makes it more important than ever to offer genuine, credible expertise to stand out in your industry. 

It’s essential to remember that thought leadership is something you earn through expertise. It’s not claimed through self-promotion. It requires a commitment to producing valuable content consistently and being genuinely engaged with the audience. Over time, genuine thought leadership can contribute significantly to a company’s reputation and success in the market.

Thought leadership also leads to the following:

  • Innovation in your industry

  • Increased organic traffic through unique offerings

  • Attracting new audiences with high-quality content

  • Expanding engagement since users are more likely to share, comment, and discuss it with others

  • Boosting your search rankings, since search engines favor authoritative content

position yourself as a thought leader

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 

Anyone can Google and regurgitate their findings. You have a unique perspective that no one else can offer. Tap into that and provide that perspective to your audience. When you do that, you’re creating something that’s not reproducible to others. Over time, you’ll hone your brand voice. And before you know it, your audience will know it’s you before they even see your byline.

Being yourself is what gives you a competitive edge over your competition. Become the insightful resource people trust and offer high-value answers to their pain points. If you do, you’ll have a loyal customer who brings along their friends. 

Be consistent 

Provide consistent valuable content based on your audience’s needs. If you do, they’ll keep coming back. And if they return to find silence, you risk losing what you’ve built. Consistency is key to keeping your audience enthralled and 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. People love to be seen and heard. Do some research, and find out who the majority of your readers are. Spend time reading through their comments, feedback, and other points of engagement. Once you have absorbed the nuances of their needs, create content based on that research, and you will have lifelong customers. 

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

While anyone can call themselves a thought leader, it’s not a self-appointed term. 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 the questions people ask and referrals they send your way. Another good indicator is whether your audience shares your content with their peers.

If they’re taking the time 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’re considered a thought leader in your niche.

Thought leadership best practices

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

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 initiate 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 lets you quickly find what you need.

  5. Serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk churns out an impressive amount of content daily. Everything from living life without regrets to business development topics.

Your Next Steps in Thought Leadership

The ultimate goal of thought leadership is to earn recognition 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.

Become a thought leader in your industry by having high-quality blog posts published under your name. Talk to a content specialist at ClearVoice to get started today.