Monday 11th October 2021

Your Essential Guide To Becoming A Thought Leader

Words by Miranda

You see them on social media, in industry magazines, and even on podcasts and conference panels. You’re in envy of these thought leaders – how are their posts doing so well? And how can you get established just like them?

Becoming a thought leader isn’t as simple as having an opinion, stringing it into a sentence, and expecting everyone to see you as the go-to person in your field. It takes time – and you have to know how to go about it the right way. 

Read our guide to discover our recommended three-pronged approach.

1. Become a publisher

Have you considered becoming a publisher? This requires longer-form content, as well as building a distinct content strategy to ensure you appear in the right publications and talk about the right topics for your brand.

Choose your themes

Jumping on hot topics will keep you relevant, but spread yourself too thin and you won’t get very far. The best thought leaders pin themselves to just a few key ‘pillars’. Take Seth Godin. He’s the source for all things marketing. Now imagine if he suddenly started writing about something completely different, like politics – his authority would get skewed. So, spend a little time narrowing your focus before you dive in.

Share what they can’t find

We mentioned appearing on the likes of podcasts and conference panels. If you’ve done this recently, or perhaps even just attended an event, write something around it. Not everyone will be able to go to an exhibition or want to listen to an hour-long podcast, but they might want to discover your expertise through other means. Make it easier for them and share any insights on your own website, rather than linking to someone else’s.

Pick your medium

If you have a meaty piece, LinkedIn Pulse is great for gaining traction – especially if you already have a bit of a following. Blogs and articles could also be used on your website if you have one. Another idea is to pitch your pieces to industry publications or relevant businesses who may want to bring you on board as a guest contributor to their blog.

2. Shine on social media

Social media (LinkedIn being the prime channel for this type of content) seems an easy way to get your thoughts out there. But you need to do some soul-searching first. Consider: how can you stand out, rather than sound like every other man and his dog? What would make someone stop scrolling and engage with you?

Define your personal brand

Being a thought leader doesn’t mean sticking solely to work chat. In fact, the more human you are, the more likely people are to relate to your content. Could you take leadership insights from last night’s football match, for instance? Or customer service lessons from your meal out at the weekend? Mix up personal and professional posts – by showing you’re human, you’ll boost shareability and trust.

Improve your SSI

Your SSI is a measure of your social selling skills and implementation. This is incredibly important – it shows how successfully you are at:

  • Establishing a professional brand
  • Engaging with insights
  • Connecting with the right people
  • Building relationships

Ideally you want a score of at least 70 – people here achieve 45% more opportunities and are 51% more likely to reach their quotas than those with an SSI under 30. Find out your score, and get recommendations on improving it, on the LinkedIn website

Understand engagement

Do you know how the algorithm works? There are a lot of ways you can boost the chances of your content being prioritised by LinkedIn, including longer comments. You can also tell LinkedIn that your content is worth reading by leaving the reader on a ‘cliffhanger’, where they must press the ‘see more’ button. There’s the ‘dwell time’ metric too – if people linger over your post long enough, it signals that other people might do the same. So, it’s a good idea to write lengthier posts that add genuine value and spark constructive debate.

3. Network

Okay, you’ve written your thought leadership content and social posts. Now it’s a case of getting them seen – which means maximising your reach and engagement. And for that, you need to share your posts and articles in the most effective ways, and network with your audience.

Get involved

It’s important to connect and talk to others. After all, being a thought leader is as much about joining a discussion as it is adding to it. For instance, you could follow relevant hashtags, become a member of appropriate groups, and react and start conversations on your connections’ content. You don’t have to limit this to online either – why not go to face-to-face events too?

Engage your network

You should also collaborate with your close network and colleagues whenever you post something. Getting people engaging with it as soon as it goes out helps to kick-start the LinkedIn algorithm. So, either tag them in or ask them to support it. Make sure to encourage your employees especially. After all, they’re as much a part of the company brand as you are!

Make a greater impact

Your posts can be part of something much bigger. Rather than treating every piece of content as a one-hit wonder, think about how you can tie it all together with a campaign. Or perhaps you could align yourself with a movement, like ‘#NoMoreNoShows’. This was trending when the hospitality industry wanted customers to tell them if they were unable to attend, and countless restaurants joined in the conversation.

Create your thought leadership strategy

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into thought leadership. It requires a great deal of time and know-how, but the results can be staggering – putting your (and your company’s) name among the heavy hitters in your space. 

Struggling to devote the hours to the task? Turn to the team here at Making You Content. We’ve helped numerous clients establish themselves as experts in their field over the years – through both content creation and effective social media management.

Let’s start building your credibility and visibility. Get in touch.