There are likely only a few other buzzwords that get thrown around as often as thought leadership, so before we dive into how to create desirable content, let’s take this time to clearly define what it is.
Thought Leadership is bringing forth talent, credibility, and experience along with unique perspectives and different approaches to your community while having open conversations about various topics. It’s not about how many scholastic or professional accolades you have, but rather your ability to provide the best possible answers to your audiences or customer's biggest questions and shed light on surrounding topics.
What Differentiates Good & Great Content Creators?
The difference between a thriving and highly engaging brand or online platform and one that is ignored and has fewer interactions is the quality of its content. For every one category, there are hundreds if not thousands of content creators developing content and/or products and services. Some of these people (or company’s) rise to the surface and can gain a huge following while keeping engagement rates high and ensuring they have return customers. Others will notice that although they are putting out content consistently and staying on top of their analytics, they aren’t seeing quality engagement and are noticing few return visitors. You have experienced this classic divide first hand every time you follow or interact with content because you are choosing to spend your time and connect with one outlet over another.
An example of this might be companies like 'Keap' and 'Hubspot'. These two companies have built huge empires in the sales and marketing software space, and although they offer different plans, features, etc. They still somewhat compete for viewership and engagement when developing content to attract customers. Hubspot is known for distributing content that instantly resonates with its audience and is very ‘share worthy’ across social media. This has allowed them to become a staple follow, meaning you know when you interact with their content, you’re experiencing quality, useful and tangible information. Keap on the other hand also produces great content. They are consistent, responsive, and aligned with their product and industry, however, they experience far fewer interactions or recognition amongst their content on social media. Why is this? This may be because Keap has fallen short of having a clear and impactful strategy in comparison to someone like Hubspot. Hubspot has not only tapped into what their audience is craving to learn through open feedback and communication methods with their audience, but they also provide extremely high volumes of content and have mastered how to develop content that gets their viewers thinking and inspires action.
Creating thought-provoking content that deeply resonates and intrigues your followers doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time and energy to find and build your target audience for which your content is intended. Assuming your audience will find you is a guaranteed fast track to failure. For more information on attracting your target audience and building your online community, check out our blog on the topic - https://info.codecast.io/blog/how-to-attract-your-target-audience. Lastly, without knowing the specific details and mindset of your viewers such as what challenges are they facing, what questions do they need answered, and what are they wanting to learn next, you can’t very well curate content for them.
Knowing where to implement your content in order to provoke deep discussions and thought leadership is critical for the success of your efforts. Although thought leadership usually manifests itself as articles, blogs, social media posts, etc. a more comprehensive thought leadership strategy covers a few other areas of which include networking original research, public speaking, and new realms of social media.
A key reminder when creating thought-provoking content is understanding that less is sometimes more. We’re not saying to put out content infrequently, but what we are saying is to avoid putting out content just for the sake of it. You want to ensure that everything you release with your name on it has a purpose behind it and can easily answer the question, ‘how does this benefit my audience’. Putting out material just so your viewers can see you're active but without really taking the time to construct proper research or consider all angles, is similar to speaking just to hear your own voice, yes everyone knows you’re in the room but they can also tell you’re not saying anything of value.
There is nothing that will make loyal members of a brand, platform, community or public figure click the unfollow button faster than someone who isn’t open to new information and other unique perspectives. As a content creator, a key part of your role is to analyze information and choose your point of view. As new details always come to the surface, you also must revisit your stance and be open to changing your mind as well as communicate with your audience along the way about your decision-making process. Remember, being open and willing to mold your opinion if new information calls for it will only help benefit your position as a dynamic resource that takes the time to dissect new data. This will also encourage your audience to communicate with you on the topic.
Before generating ideas for your content, do some digging through your comments, messages, or on your competitor's platform or page to find out what your audience is eager to know. Think about it as if you were to approach a group of people in mid-conversation and then start giving your opinions and ideas without prior context to what they were previously discussing before you arrived. Needless to say, it’s pretty awkward. Taking the time to research your viewer's needs and pay attention to what they are telling you is something that, unfortunately, a lot of content creators miss. Generating polls or questionnaires will also assist you in building authority and a reputation for a creator who is customer-centric.
Finally, engage with your own content. Doing this not only gets you a lot of mileage out of the work you’ve already done, but it keeps the conversation going for those viewers who may have missed this particular post and offers them a chance to catch up. Continuing to add elements like pictures, graphs, or videos to your content may even help explain the topic further and hammer home the idea you’re trying to get across