Nearly everyone is in the right place to be a thought leader. Consumers can be thought leaders just as easily as managers and CEOs. However, being regarded as one takes careful research and a statement with style. Many cut to the chase by producing thought leadership pieces.
How do these pieces differ from other content? Is the right content the only requirement for becoming a thought leader?
What is Thought Leadership Content?
People can and do become thought leaders through content strategy alone. Typically, this content must feature the following.
A new way to see a topic.
Content usually has the writer exhibiting neutrality while presenting facts, or speaking in a way that aligns with the audience. In fact, much of the work in content writing is becoming a member of the audience.
But if the audience is the crowd gathered at the bottom of the slope, the thought leader is the innovator who made their way to the top. They have a deep, all-encompassing knowledge of their industry. They are sharing a point of view that completely reframes how people speak and think about this topic.
It is not overtly promotional.
Here’s a bitter truth: salespeople are not aspirational. Most consumers are inherently suspicious of them. Thought leaders do not go on and on about their products. Thought leaders offer listeners and readers plenty of value, often for free.
Nonetheless, they are people that consumers want to buy from. After reading their free .pdf or taking a free online course, consumers understand the thought leader’s business.
The audience can participate.
Ideas that captivate – even very quirky ones – are the thought leader’s bread and butter. They are often active on social media or take on public speaking engagements. The content they offer inspires a conversation, whether it be through online comments or response pieces.
People also love to apply a thought leader’s insight into their own lives. A curious example of this is billionaire Warren Buffet. Buffet has been open about his terrible diet and frugal lifestyle. People emulate this all of the time in hopes of being more like a billionaire. It is a hot topic of discussion that never would have arisen had Buffet not engaged and shared his routines with the public.
No thought leader needs to share what they eat for breakfast. But offering information that an audience wants to interact with, or can apply to their careers or routine, is a sure sign that someone is a thought leader.
Benefits of Publishing Thought Leadership Pieces
The notion that demonstrating such a high level of expertise naturally drives sales is a good distillation of the many benefits of thought leadership. Here is a more nuanced breakdown of what experts enjoy as a result of becoming a thought leader through content.
Publishing thought leadership pieces can be ten times more effective than old methods of networking. If someone in the industry wants opportunities to speak with other leaders, so they can benefit from their insight, becoming their peer is the way to open those doors.
Establishing oneself as a thought leader instantly makes them much more visible. For one, it increases their chances of having their content backlinked from other authoritative sources. This is fantastic for SEO and is an authentic way to increase site traffic and prove credibility.
When introducing interesting concepts, new audience members are expected. Those who are existing consumers of the brand set a good example for the new audience. Thought leadership takes them from interested consumers to loyal customers, reinforcing authority to those still familiarizing themselves with the brand.
A business or brand with an unexpected or fresh point of view has a better chance of surviving. Half of all small businesses close up shop in the first five years. With effective thought leadership content, a business can boost their chances of becoming one of the 25% that make it to the 15-year mark.
There are various ways that good thought leadership pieces breed more content. Feedback from consumers can reveal questions and angles the leader can address. Response pieces and backlinks also contain ideas for more content. This is important because once an individual becomes a thought leader, they have to maintain that position.
How to Create Thought Leadership Pieces
Is focusing on thought leadership right for every industry expert? Not necessarily. Those who do not want to dedicate themselves to consistently publishing content should not bother. Additionally, brands that present ideas that can create conflict among the audience should tread carefully.
How leaders create great content.
Then there is the fact that experts are not always great writers. Even concerning visual content, it can be difficult for certain creatives to organize their message well enough to be understood by an audience.
That is why thought leaders work with writing services. Writing services differ from regular freelancers in a few key ways. First, there is the fact that they vet their writers, giving priority to those who also happen to be industry experts. This way, a busy businessperson does not need to explain the ins and outs of their industry to the writer.
The writing service advantage.
Writers who work for services are also accustomed to deep research. They can fact-check a future thought leader’s claims, find supporting evidence, and assess how other thought leaders in that industry are making it work.
This will save a brand a great deal of time. After all, few influential people on the rise would readily agree that they have the spare time to become a thought leader. The right writer, chosen by an agency that has reviewed the details of a content project, can accomplish the legwork that holds businesses back from becoming an authority.
Best of all, professional writers know how to apply style to this type of content. They understand the importance of standing out while still creating a connection with the consumer. Ultimately, agency writers can even help someone find their style.
Finally, writing services completely resolve any concerns about content consistency. Industry players can continue gleaning the knowledge that makes them a true leader, while high-quality writing services turn industry knowledge into impactful thought leadership pieces.