Thought leadership is a hot buzzword, however, there are many definitions and misconceptions about what a thought leader is.
I’d like to offer a definition that may be slightly broader than what you’re used to. Once you’re comfortable with the definition, I’ll share five best practices.
Who is a Thought Leader?
A thought leader is an individual who is recognized as an expert in their own space, and is referred to for help on various matters. In other words, the key-to-go person who can give an appropriate path to attain best results in the field and geography they specialize in. For a more robust definition, check out this 2×2 showing a definition of thought leadership as audience by content .
The Top Five Best Practices for Thought Leadership are:
1. Visibility to the Employees and the Management Team:
Due to the accessibility and abundance of numerous product reviews on the Internet, traditional salespeople have become obsolete and ineffective. The new salesperson is Google and is playing a big part in providing a perfect way to review products and services with utmost ease.
Potential customers search on your organization, they want to see “real” people sharing authentic, transparent and trustworthy information. Every employee represents the brand, and they must look good. Particularly, the management team.
On the “About us” page of many organizations today, you not only see a small photo or bio of the executive team, but also links to their individual social accounts (primarily LinkedIn and Twitter). This way, the customers and future advocates get an opportunity to see how the management team represents themselves and engage with them, if appropriate.
2. Yelp as a Verb:
The effect of yelpification has been present for a long time. It has brought numerous changes in consumption of products and services. Factors of cost, quality, and efficiency are discussed through online reviews and ratings. Consumer reviews and ratings play a big part in defining popularity and efficiency of a business. They act as a key to attain business success.
In the B2B space, I look at the “Yelp” score of an individual as the skills their peers have given them on their LinkedIn profile. If someone presents themselves one way, but their peers see them as something else, that’s a yellow flag.
We’re not quite there yet, but I can see a world where we will see an aggregated “Yelp” score for individuals and organizations that is the aggregation of how they have interacted with people like yourself. Does the LinkedIn skills you’re endorsed for represent your brand? Does your employees?
3. Consistently Publish Content on Platforms with Reach:
For over a decade, we’ve talked about the importance of publishing consistently.
WordPress has made it really easy to create your own blog. Your job is to consistently share content and build the audience.
Another vehicle that’s being used with good results today is the publishing platform from LinkedIn. Content that exists on your blog and other areas, can be updated and reposted to your LinkedIn blog.
What’s relevant is the ability for your peers, and their peers, to view and share your post. The amplification of your message can be high with this platform, particularly with a little nudge from yourself. Additionally, many old school, well-known publications have adopted a contributor model. Huffington Post, Forbes, Fortune, Entrepreneur Magazine are just a few places you can approach and share good quality content. I’m sharing content regularly on the LinkedIn publishing platform and Entrepreneur Magazine.
4. Industry Leader’s List:
Creating a “best of” and “most influential” lists is also a great way to increase your organization’s influence. Thought leaders continually strive to be recognized on the basis of their work and make a “list”.
The best way for thought leaders to achieve success is to continue what they are doing and to have fun while doing it. Creating a list which is relevant to your industry is a great way to attain impressive results. Not only does your firm get recognized for creating the list, but you are attracting the attention, and if done right, making friends with the influencers in your industry.
When creating these types of lists, make sure you add the appropriate details of name, company, photo, website, and links to one or more of their social platforms.
5. Formulate Your Own Thought Leadership Channel:
With the platforms that are available today, it is extremely easy to create your own thought leadership channel. In the past, this was a blog site which you were hoping you can drive enough visitors to. Today, you can create a channel on someone else’s platform taking advantage of the infrastructure and traffic available.
An example I’d like to share is Thought Leader Life. This show interviews a thought leader via Google Hangouts every week. The content streams live on YouTube, is also shared on SlideShare, the audio is stripped and placed on iTunes and the FIR podcast network run by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, a blog post is created from the show and shared on 2 different locations and ~40 quotes are pulled from the show and when combined with 3 other thought leaders, a new social media enabled Aha Amplifier book is created.
Check out the view to the past interviews and content created. Creating a show that’s featured on all of these channels would have cost $3m+ during the dot.com days and can be accomplished today for a fraction of that cost.
These practices are some of best and most reliable thought leadership ideas to achieve success today. By following these practices, you and your organization will increase your digital footprint and strive towards growth, efficiency and prosperity.
Get a free copy of the social media enabled eBooks “Mitchell Levy on Creating Thought Leaders” and “Meridith Elliott Powell and Mitchell Levy on Instilling Leadership at Every Level” at http://bit.ly/MitchellLevy-AhaAmp01 and http://bit.ly/EngagedLdr-AhaAmp01 respectively, read about thought leadership best practices on the LinkedIn group http://bit.ly/t-l-b-p, or watch a new thought leader each week on http://ThoughtLeaderLife.com.