To establish your place as a thought leader and trustworthy authority in your industry, you need to publish original, high-level content. But writing effective thought leadership content is no easy task.
Taking the time and effort to learn how to create high-authority content is worth the effort. A survey of 1,000 senior executives found that, despite their busy schedules, they still dedicate up to five hours a week to reading thought leadership articles and white papers.
Just imagine what you could achieve with a dedicated audience of high-value potential clients taking several hours to listen to what you have to say each week.
Great thought leaders are not necessarily great writers. Luckily, thought leadership is a skill that can be learned and perfected, with practice.
There’s no better time to get started than the present.
– Thought leadership content differs from standard blog content because it includes unique ideas and viewpoints that your audience can’t find anywhere else – it’s more than just information.
– Becoming a thought leader takes time, effort, and practice.
– You don’t necessarily have to be a skilled writer or videographer to find success with thought leadership content. However, you need to be good at creating content in at least one format on at least one platform.
Choosing the Right Topics
The first stage of creating great thought leadership content is choosing the right topics to write about.
When choosing these topics, it’s important to keep in mind the factors that will result in success:
- They should be relevant to your audience or the audience of the publication you’re submitting it to.
- They should help your clients, customers, or peers to overcome challenges they may be facing or make their life better in some way.
- They should provoke thoughts, ideas, or discussions among your audience.
- You should be able to back up your talking points with relevant research from reputable sources.
Nobody is an authority on everything, so the narrower you can make your subject focus, the more credible you’ll seem – at least until you build up trust and reputation. It’s also much better to go deeper into subjects and cover them thoroughly than just to skim the surface of lots of unrelated topics.
Choose a few topic categories to specialize in when you’re creating content. These categories should obviously be related to the industry you’re in but they don’t have to be directly related.
For example, if you frequently use mindfulness in work to be a better leader and more successful in business, this could work as an interesting niche in which to create thought leadership content.
At Marketing Insider Group, my areas of passion are content marketing, marketing strategy, event marketing, and employee activation.
Almost all the content I create fits under the umbrella of one of these categories. This has not only helped me make a name for myself as a thought leader in these areas but has also given me a starting point when it comes to brainstorming topic ideas.
Ideas can come from many places. Make sure you’re never short of inspiration by reading plenty of content yourself. Industry news sites, social media (particularly LinkedIn), forums, and relevant blogs will keep you up to date with the latest trends and may well spark some new content ideas. You can also set a Google alert with industry keywords to be notified when new content is published.
You’ll also probably find that content ideas come to you randomly, or that a conversation you have with someone gives you content inspiration. Make sure to take note of these ideas so you can use them at a later date.
Thorough Research and Fact Checking
One of the things that makes thought leadership content stand out from generic blog content is that it is thoroughly researched and fact-checked.
Whatever information you include in your articles, it’s important that you have the data to back it up from reputable sources.
Your research should provide evidence that demonstrates the validity of what you’re saying. But a blog post simply compiling data from several different sources is not thought leadership. You need to weave a narrative around the data and explain what it means, rather than simply presenting it.
Ideally, thought leadership content is based on original research conducted by the person or organization publishing it; however, this isn’t always possible.
If you don’t have the resources to do your own research, make sure you have something interesting to say about the information and data you’ve sourced from a third party.
It’s vital that the information presented in thought leadership content is accurate. Inaccurate facts or using unreliable sources could damage your reputation permanently. So make sure to double-check your facts and leave out any references that you’re unsure of.
Unique Perspective and Angle
One of the defining characteristics of thought leadership content is that it offers a unique take on a subject, idea, or problem.
This doesn’t mean that all your thought leadership content ideas have to be completely unique. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with covering a trending topic or revisiting an idea that has proved popular.
However, you should make sure you approach the topic from your own unique viewpoint and angle.
Think about thought leaders Tony Robbins and Dave Ramsey. The topics they talk about in their respective areas of expertise (personal development and personal finance) are the same topics that have been covered countless times before. But millions follow them as thought leaders because their approach and style are so unique.
Individuals who are new to writing for an online audience tend to use formal and over-complicated language. This may be because they’re used to writing technical or academic documents or in an attempt to sound more knowledgeable and intelligent.
Either way, using long words and sentences full of corporate jargon results in content that is off-putting and difficult