What is Thought Leadership?
Brands today can’t simply rely on traditional media and push marketing tactics. Consumers demand transparency and seek brands that prove themselves as experts in their space. A thought leader can be defined as an individual or entity that differentiates themselves in a given field by being innovative and developing unique compelling content that provides value to the audience.
Thought leadership is not just about content marketing but about actually becoming an expert in your field and using that knowledge to actually teach others. Thought leadership builds trust and with trust comes greater awareness.
Consumers are not just finding brands by clicking on ads and responding to email marketing. They are finding services and products via the social web and by consuming user generated content on topics related to what they are looking for. This is why it is crucial for companies to define themselves as an experts in their field and build trust with consumers by educating them. The more value your audience gains from the knowledge you provide, the more they will become your brand advocates, have positive discussions on the social web, and link to your content.
Word of mouth is more powerful than ever, with consumers sharing both positive and negative experiences online across their social networks to their friends. People are becoming more open with showcasing their experiences with brands and are turning to social media to spread the word. By having a solid social presence and strategy implemented, brands are able to join these conversations and host them across their various channels so as to have more control over the conversation and provide a social voice to the consumers on behalf of the brand.
Internet Marketing Inc. Social Media Director
How Thought Leadership Plays a Role in SEO
We are living in a post Panda/Penguin era where we are truly at the mercy of Google algorithm updates. Google’s efforts to eliminate duplicate content, web spam, and poor link building strategies follow their usual mantra for continually improving the quality of content delivered in their SERPs. From an SEO and online marketing perspective however it has become increasingly more challenging to succeed with what have been fairly standard search engine optimization and link building tactics.
Now a brand must first seek to be great, develop good content relevant to their audience, marketing that content well using social media, SEO, and other online marketing efforts, and be consistent. This is how a brand builds trust and builds a community of evangelists that will share their content.
Seems so simple right?! Well, doing all of this requires building a great brand, buy in from stakeholders on content, consistency in effort, and determination. So before we all run off and start becoming “thought leaders” let’s take a look at:
- Why thought leadership and good content marketing lead to content curation
- How to become a thought leader
- The benefits of thought leadership and content marketing
- How all this affects SEO link building and inbound marketing efforts.
Why Content Curation is a Major Part of Thought Leadership
What is content “curation” anyway? Content curation is the process of finding, organizing, and sharing online content. Another part of content curation (and why it aids in the thought leadership process) is about adding value and insight to the content you are gathering/organizing/distributing.
Why is this important? Well if you plan on becoming or remaining a thought leader in your space you certainly want people to find and share your content. Content curation is also part of becoming a thought leader yourself. There are many reasons people share content but for the most part it is because they are impressed by what they find and think it will add value to others as well. They want to be a part of telling the story and be an advocate.
The frequency of sharing online content is growing exponentially. This plays a major role in how your audience becomes your brand advocate and tells your story for you. While this is happening, you begin to weave a wonderful “web” of content and inbound links to your website, blogs, videos, etc. We will talk more about this later.
How to become a Thought Leader
It first helps to be extremely knowledgeable on a given topic or range of similar topics. It’s not just about redistributing other people’s content as we discussed with the importance of content curation. To truly excel as a thought leader one must innovate, develop theories, test them, and present new (and possibly controversial) data to the audience. So the route to becoming a thought leader as I see it is the following:
Thought leadership is not something you can easily fake. This is not just a bunch of rehashed content said by someone else like what you did in your high school and college reports rewriting content of a book or online material. Rehashed content like this will only do good for the less knowledgeable audience. But if you want added respect and better reputation among your peers in the industry you play in, the information you share should give additional insights from the current information found online. If you are struggling how to do this, then you probably do not have the natural thought leader mentality yet. Maybe you are not even a real expert in your field.
Internet Marketing Inc. SEO Director
The Benefits of Thought Leadership and Content Marketing
This part is simple. The more of an expert you are the more likely you will develop great content. The more great content you develop the easier it will be to market. As far as how you go about marketing that content it’s up to you. Here are some helpful steps to follow:
- Start by creating a platform and foundation using your website, blogs, and even videos
- Use SEO tactics to ensure that your content is easily found based on specific keyword searches
- Distribute your content via the social web using Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.
- Use various paid search marketing strategies for promoting content such as White Papers, Case Studies, and Research Reports
- Market the content directly by speaking at trade shows and conferences
The benefits are endless. The key benefit we want to discuss here however is the effect on inbound link building and SEO.
How Thought Leadership Affects SEO Link Building and Inbound Marketing
The following flow chart explains the direct positive impact that thought leadership has on improving your SEO rankings.