3 Ways to Capitalize on the Changing Nature of Thought Leadership

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To bolder your business’s reputation and increase brand awareness, business leaders need to be creative how they establish themselves as a thought leader. Here are three tips on how to achieve that.

Thought leadership used to be the shiny new marketing tactic that everyone was eager to try, but it’s no longer the new kid on the block. That means business leaders need to get creative in the future to use it effectively, bolster their reputation and increase brand awareness.

It’s already difficult enough to differentiate your brand within the sea of content being published every day, so streamlining is key in 2017. Marketers developing thought leadership platforms will focus on quality over quantity – developing a few key campaigns that generate revenue and impact reputation rather than merely adding to the cacophony of voices.

When the marketing and sales teams work together, they can also use thought leadership to improve your company’s bottom line by uncovering helpful insights and using them to impress clients and customers. Historically, clicks and downloads have been the primary metrics for measuring campaign success, but conversions and accounts gained through thought leadership marketing will begin to emerge as true barometers of a well-executed plan.

That doesn’t mean, though, that thought leadership is only a marketing tool; it can also be used to boost engagement externally with key stakeholders and internally with employees. Employees today are becoming more curious about a company’s vision and sense of purpose, and thought leadership is a chance for you, the CEO, to give them a peek into your thought process.

While these trends sound simple enough, capitalizing on them is easier said than done. To create a successful thought leadership strategy, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Get everyone involved.

It’s tempting to only have the top leaders at your company contributing to thought leadership pieces, but it’s risky to center your entire strategy on just a few people. Instead, encourage employees in all areas of your organization to see themselves as thought leaders.

This may be a challenge at first, because many people assume that only CEOs or other executives have something to say that’s worthwhile enough to be considered thought leadership. However, as the CEO, it’s your job to reverse this way of thinking and give every employee the opportunity to contribute his or her thoughts and ideas.

Not only will this strategy generate more diverse insights and make your team more collaborative, but it can also help get you noticed within your industry. When you have more people within your company sharing their thought leadership pieces with their social circles, your content will reach a wider audience and help increase brand awareness.

2. Shape your brand with influencers.

Once you’ve created the content that will serve as the foundation for your campaign, you may want to consider partnering with an industry influencer. Influencers can complement thought leadership by getting the word out and by helping to shape a personal brand that reflects the values of your company.

Part of the effectiveness of thought leadership marketing stems from its air of authenticity – real people sharing their experiences and ideas because of their passion for their jobs – and the right influencers further cement this perception.

Influencers gain their status because of their ability to establish a reputation. You can utilize their knowledge when it comes to grooming your thought leaders, encouraging them to update their social media profiles and focus on their credentials and career accomplishments.

Influencers can also provide insight into gaining a following across different social media platforms and learning how content can be successfully repurposed on certain channels. Combine this with the established audience you can gain access to by bringing the right influencer on board, and you have a formidable thought leadership campaign in the works.

3. Establish a social media presence.

Social media is key to promoting any type of content, but sharing with a human touch will attract an even larger audience. When CEOs post on social media, it offers a human side that makes your company appear more trustworthy.

In fact, nearly 70 percent of surveyed professionals said that when a CEO posts on social media, it makes the company seem like a more attractive place to work.

You don’t need to share on every single platform, but it’s important to perform tests to see which channels are most effective. Also, encourage your employees, partners, clients and customers to share your content to reach a wider audience. Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll expand your reach exponentially.

Becoming a thought leader is something that takes time and patience, and it won’t happen overnight. It’s also something that needs to be learned through practice and hands-on experience, and it can take years, even when you’re giving it 100 percent. But the payoff is that you’ll be seen as an expert in your field, gaining coveted recognition and improving your company’s bottom line at the same time. Start laying the foundation today so you can enjoy the benefits of thought leadership down the road, however long and winding it may be.

Sarah Clark

Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell, an award-winning public relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses, and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations, and consumer engagement. The agency is headquartered in Fayetteville, Ark., with offices in Chicago and New York City. Mitchell is part of Dentsu Aegis Network, which is made up of nine global network brands and supported by its specialist/multimarket brands. Dentsu Aegis Network is Innovating the Way Brands Are Built for its clients through its best-in-class expertise and capabilities in media, digital, and creative communications services. Offering a distinctive and innovative range of products and services, Dentsu Aegis Network is headquartered in London and operates in 145 countries worldwide with over 30,000 dedicated specialists.

Clark is one of the top strategic communications professionals in the country, with more than 25 years of experience in corporate communications and an exceptional track record in protecting corporate reputations and redefining perceptions in key areas of business.

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