Thought leadership is an integral part of content marketing, especially on social media. It’s all about establishing yourself as a leader in your field of expertise. This might be a narrow field such as IP telephony or it might be something broader such as small business finance. Whatever industry you are in, there’s a place for this kind of leadership but you need to work out your angle and expertise before you start.

Broadcast to the right places

Get yourself on the social networks where your customers are most likely to spend their time. You should make sure to include Twitter in this as it’s a fantastic PR tool. If you are a B2B business then LinkedIn is so important.

You should also have a blog for longform content that you’ll be sharing across your social networks.

Use the right hashtags

This is especially important on Twitter as you’ll be able to reach a whole host of people already interested in the content you’re writing about. Whether you’re posting a simple tip or are linking to a longer piece of content, use a relevant hashtag.

Take a look at the hashtag you intend to use before you post, though, as some might not be as relevant as you think. #Marketing, #Branding and #SMM are all safe bets if you write on those topics but #Finance is a little more ambiguous as the people using it might be looking for car finance.

Do your research, work out what’s popular and remember to look at what’s being posted to those tags as it might be that there’s something in there that’s useful to you too.

Be an authority

Thought leadership, in its simplest form, is about being an authority in your chosen area. Freely offer advice (but not so much that you devalue your paid services), create content then helps people, run training sessions and comment on relevant news stories as they come up. Not only will this build trust amongst your customers but you’ll reach new ones too.

Use LinkedIn

This social network is a great tool for reaching professionals so it’s a must if you run a B2B business. Make sure to post interesting updates on a regular basis and make sure it’s a mix of links to your work as well as comments on trends and news stories.

You can also post longer content on LinkedIn and while it can be tempting to save this for a company blog, you’re going to reach different people by posting on the social network. You can start with something short but these posts show up in the search engines and will also get seen by you connections.

Answer questions

Think about the barriers your customer base faces and the questions they are asking. It might be ‘how do I become a millionaire?’ or it might be ‘how do I reach more people on Twitter?’ As a thought leader, it’s important for you to put your slant on the answers to these questions. You can answer these in different ways, across different channels to best serve the needs of your audience and reach more people.

Make it interesting

Tell a story and make it personal, if you need to. When you’re writing as an expert in your field, it’s fine to use the first person because people want to learn from you and your experience.

Regale readers with the story of a mistake you made that you later learnt from, or cover that one piece of advice that changed the way you think about business.

Once you’ve built trust and have told people how you got to where you are, those people will be keen to replicate that success.

Thought leadership is about more than carefully placed content, it’s about becoming a leader and sharing your knowledge with your audience and beyond.

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