The first question that you need to ask yourself is: “Is a thought leadership website any different than any other type of website?” Well, perhaps not, but we know that the site you create should be tailored to meet your specific objectives. If you’re building a site to sell online vs. a site to share your unique point of view and content, you are, in effect, creating two very different types of websites. To that end, we’ve reviewed a series of websites billed as ‘thought leadership’ sites and have pulled a few of the best elements from each that we feel really aid each firm in furthering their thought leadership via the website.
1) Your Point of View – Front, Center and at the Top of the Page
There are a number of things that I like about Legg Mason’s site, but the very top of the page where they post a few recent point of view items is really key for me. It shows, well above the fold, the firm’s most current thinking on the most important issues of the day for them. Since you all know that I’m a big fan of putting things in three’s, this is perfectly balanced with their top three POVs. Legg Mason is also capitalizing on the trend of using eye-catching images near the top of the page. We see this also with Accenture and on BCG’s dedicated thought leadership site, BCG Perspectives.
2) Navigation Menus that Allude to Thought Leading Content
The TED site may be a bit of an anomaly, but is useful nonetheless. The thought leading firms that we looked at have decidedly different navigation that say a more product-focused or service oriented firm. Thought leaders typically focus on things like ‘outlook, insights, speaking, video, updates & news, major hot button topics, training, blogs, resource downloads and so forth.’
3) Social Connections
What good are your great thought leadership ideas if they can’t be shared? Most thought leadership sites today not only connect the sites to the sister social properties for the company but also encourage selective sharing on social networks via the most appropriate social sharing links on a per-article or per-post basis on the blog.
The BCG Perspectives site has perhaps one of the most elaborate video sections of any thought leadership site, but others aren’t too far behind. One common thread with all thought leaders is that whether they leverage their own sites for thought leadership videos or defer to YouTube or similar channels like KI does, video is must-have component of today’s thought leadership marketing strategy.
Indium is a great example of an organization that leverages blogging to its fullest. With over a dozen bloggers, they cover the most pressing topics in their industry with an extraordinary level of detail. A vast majority of thought leadership websites today have blogs. Blogs allow you not only the ability to publish whatever and whenever you want, but they also serve as a critical social hub for your other social media channels to drive to in order to more effectively convert social media traffic.
Those are a mere five of the top 10, 15 or 20 things that we see as essential components on thought leadership websites. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we flesh out a few more critical components of the ideal thought leadership site.
Sites reviewed for this post: