How to Become a Thought Leader in your Industry
Ever thought about becoming a thought leader within your industry? If you haven’t, you should!
Being a chief figurehead in your field has tons of benefits, from strengthening your brand and improving trust, to increasing your social media followers and getting you seen by those that matter.
But how exactly do you become this all-important thought leader? Is there an exact set of steps or a proven method that will get you this impressive title? Not exactly.
The steps to becoming a thought leader will be different for everyone, but there are certain things you should most definitely be doing to help you along the journey of becoming the go-to person within your industry.
What exactly is a thought leader?
Before I share how to become a thought leader, let’s cover what it actually means.
A thought leader is a forward-thinking individual who is passionate about their industry and their brand. They stay ahead of trends and news within their field and offer pioneering opinions on them. Opinions that people trust and look up to.
Thought leaders offer original viewpoints - that’s what makes people go to them for education and enlightenment. Examples of thought leaders include the late Steve Jobs and Elon Musk.
Now while I can’t guarantee that you’ll be as famous like these guys, today’s online world has made it possible for many to become “micro” thought leaders with highly engaged audiences - and an engaged audience is gold dust for any brand or business.
Let’s now cover the practical things you can do for a successful thought leadership marketing strategy…
Write unique content
If you’re simply regurgitating other people’s content or opinions, you’re not going to become a thought leader.
Being a leader is all about offering something that others don’t - that’s why people look to them for innovative ideas and insights.
That’s not to say that other people will never share your opinions - it can be impossible to have a totally unparalleled thought that no other individual has ever shared. You don’t need to trawl through social media, blogs, and news to check nobody else has shared something similar - just ensure your content is genuine and personal to you.
Remember that you have a unique perspective, so use it to your advantage. Don’t let imposter syndrome prevent you from sharing your point of view. Instead, remind yourself that your opinions are important and that people want to read them!
Authentic viewpoints and theories are always more interesting than a rehash of current trends or popular opinions.
Make sure content can be found
If you’ve read a few of my blogs, you’ll know that I regularly stress this point. But that’s because there’s little point in creating content that nobody will read.
Ensure your content is SEO optimized with relevant keywords and that you're addressing current industry topics.
These steps can both be achieved by completing some simple keyword research before you dive into writing. Free online tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Answer The Public and Ubersuggest are all valuable in showing what people are searching for online.
Similarly, conduct hashtag research on Instagram to optimize the reach of your posts. Experiment with different combinations and styles of hashtags, such as niche, broad, location-specific, industry-specific, awareness days, etc. Read more about SEO for Instagram.
You should also consider repurposing your content so that you are omnipresent on relevant platforms. This will make you more likely to be found, and demonstrate that your opinions are important. Repurposing doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming if you start with a good content foundation. Read more about how to repurpose your content.
Associate yourself with brand aligning channels
This is about finding those relevant platforms mentioned in the previous point.
You don’t need to be on every single social media channel and online platform out there, but you should be on the ones that are relevant for your industry and target audience.
The modern online world makes it easy for budding thought leaders to share their unique insights far and wide. But if you’re not quite ready to contribute to Forbes, there are plenty of other platforms to try:
I’m a big fan of sharing thought leadership articles on Medium, and I’ve also written about the benefits of contributing to Q&A site, Quora - it has great potential for being a place to build upon your thought leadership marketing strategy.
You could also try turning a blog or article into a YouTube video - people love to see others in the flesh, it can really help to amp up the trust between you and your audience.
LinkedIn is another great place to share business articles and opinions, and keep up with other thought leaders within your industry. Remember to keep everything you share authentic and from your original viewpoint, rather than being tempted to share regurgitated or trendy content for fleeting effect.
Experiment with different platforms and see where you get the best traction and response. Keep in mind that you’re not going to go viral everywhere, or overnight, and that’s okay.
Begin your thought leadership marketing strategy
Becoming a thought leader in your industry takes time and dedication.
It involves your audience putting a great deal of trust in you, so it’s not something that will happen in an instant. But it’s well worth the time and effort.
A comprehensive thought leadership marketing strategy will not only help you become a trusted pioneer in your field, but will also populate your social media channels and online platforms with valuable content, and ultimately improve your brand.
This can all have a positive impact on lead generation and sales, even if it is a “long-game” approach. Patience and consistency are key!