Your Essential Guide To Becoming A Thought Leader

You see them on social media, in industry magazines, and even on podcasts and conference panels. You’re envious of these thought leaders – how are their posts doing so well? And how can you establish yourself in a similar way?

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 knowing how to go about it in the right way…

1. Be strategic

Publishing the odd post on LinkedIn when you remember to just won’t cut it anymore. It’s time to develop a distinct, targeted strategy that includes a mix of reactive content and longer pieces that reach your audience on the platforms they use.

Choose your themes

Jumping on hot topics will keep you relevant, but spread yourself too thin and you won’t get very far. Worse still, you’ll risk coming across a little fake. 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

If you’ve appeared on a podcast or panel recently, or perhaps even just attended an event, write something around it. Not everyone will be able to go to a conference or want to listen to an hour-long show, but they might want to discover your expertise in other ways. 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 following. If your message is short, snappy, and lends itself well to video, TikTok might be where you should focus your efforts. Just make sure the platform you choose is the one your audience is most likely to be found on. Articles could also be published on your website if you have one, or you can pitch your pieces to industry publications or relevant businesses who may want to bring you on board as a guest blog contributor.

2. Use social media like a boss

Social media (LinkedIn especially) seems like an easy way to get your thoughts out there. But when every other person has the same idea, you need to think about 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 professional and personal posts, and you’ll boost shareability and trust. You might even want to look into LinkedIn newsletters and come up with a recurring angle or theme that people will come to know you for.

Improve your SSI

Your LinkedIn SSI is a measure of your social selling skills and implementation. It shows how successful 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, here.

Understand engagement

Do you know how LinkedIn’s algorithm works? There are lots of ways of improving your chances of the platform prioritising your content, including longer comments. You can also tell LinkedIn that your content is worth reading by leaving the user on a cliffhanger, where they have to press the ‘see more’ button to view the rest of the post. 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 something a little lengthier that adds genuine value and sparks constructive debate.

3. Get seen

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.

Join the conversation

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’. Hospitality industry leaders got this trending to encourage customers to tell them if they were unable to make a booking, and countless restaurants joined in. You could also explore boosting your posts to help get them in front of more users.

Create your thought leadership strategy

A great deal of time and know-how goes into thought leadership. 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.

Words by Kelly


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