If you follow any of the content marketing experts currently in the social media sphere, you have probably heard the term “thought leader” discussed. A thought leader is a person with influence in their industry, who has the potential to shape the way other people talk about their industry. A person becomes a thought leader in many ways, but often through content marketing.
Thought leadership isn’t new; every time you have purchased a book by an expert in a field, or gone to a talk because of a famous keynote speaker, you have been following a thought leader. The democracy of the internet, however, has made it easier than ever to be acknowledged as a thought leader within your niche.
These are a few of the things you should do if you want to be seen as a thought leader in your industry.
1. Work as a leadership speaker
One great way to develop your influence in your field is to work and promote yourself as a leadership speaker. Work as a mentor, offer your services to your local SBA and Chamber of Commerce, and try to speak at local events. The first few times that you put your name in the ring, you may be doing it mostly for the experience and exposure, but over time, you may be able to add speaking fees to your income streams.
Capture at least some of your talks on video, and upload (with the event organizer’s permission) snippets to Youtube and your website so that others can see what you’re offering.
2. Develop a social media following
If you haven’t already, begin to build a social media following. What platforms you use depends on your industry. For example, writers and authors often spend a lot of time on Twitter, while lifestyle professionals often thrive on Instagram. Whatever the best platform for your industry, cultivate a following.
Many people are good at putting together shareable information on these platforms; what can be harder is learning how to interact naturally with other people and businesses. After all, the key word in social media is “social.” By interacting and showing yourself to be informative and interesting, you will continue to develop your audience.
3. Write books and articles
There are many ways to develop content that will drive your audience’s interest, and books and articles are really just one way. You could also create video tutorials, guest post on other blogs, take over Twitter accounts, and create Instagram challenges. Ultimately, the goal is to discuss why you feel a certain way about a product, item, or service, and give your audience information about it.
Authors might talk about book reviews, for example, while lifestyle coaches might start by sharing exactly how their new bullet journal has changed their life for the better. Meanwhile, the CEO of a tech startup might do a video tour of the facility where their new product has just started injection molding.
If your industry lends itself to books and articles – and most of them do, in one way or another – creating these items can lead to revenue streams. Whether you have a private video section available only to Patreon subscribers or downloadable ebooks on Amazon and your website, these income streams can help you find time to build the content that will keep your users coming back over time.
4. Promote content
Once you have content available, through your platform or someone else’s, you need to find organic ways to promote it. There can be some benefits to paid ads, but many free platforms are also available. You can contact other influencers and offer free products in exchange for a review. You can work with your social media follow and offer a giveaway in exchange for follows. You can even work with another company or influencer in your industry to giveaway each other’s products.
If your primary information sharing happens away from social media, then use social media to alert your followers to your new content, whether it’s a blog post, a new book, or a fresh video.
You can also promote other people’s content. Great videos from your followers who use your products or services, other industry influencers whose missions align with yours, and political issues that support your company can all be meaningfully promoted on your channel. This helps to show your followers that you’re not just there to take from them; you also want to share your worldview and industry knowledge.
Becoming a thought leader in your niche is not easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding. What advice would you offer to a new businessperson just creating their first platform?