How Thought Leadership Differs From Being an Influencer

Why Thought Leadership is Different From Influencer Marketing

Would you like to grow your brand reach, but don’t know what to focus on first?

Does your audience really understand the value of what you have to offer them?

There are several ways in which you can build a brand reputation of authority in today’s ever-changing online arena. As trends and technology have changed so have titles. The term influencer has become too widely used and doesn’t project what your brand is truly about. For example, you could be seen as an expert on a particular topic, subject or niche in your target market. This may have come from a demonstration of your knowledge through remarkable content, publishing, and personal interactions on your social networks. This category has now become known as being a thought leader in your industry. An influencer is one that is visibly scene — making their mark through video, visual content, and live interactions with an audience.

If you’re after brand sponsorship and high level connections then influencer marketing is the direction to go in. On the other hand, if you are a company who wants to sell a product or service then the goal is to move towards Thought Leadership which can become the go-source of reliable and trusted information.

The process still begins with the basics of establishing a loyal brand audience through fresh and original content, frequent activity online through your blog and social media, and building authentic relationships with customers and other influencers.

When you consistently focus on these initial steps you will begin to move closer to your goal. The key to success is to start with a plan that will work best for your business model and to be authentic in your approach.

One of my clients began the process of building their brand through my services in 2015. The first step was to create a professional website that included a blog and updates on his books and travel as a solo pilot. Today he’s well established as an author and speaker who is spreading the word on making aviation possible through his writing and flight. This all became possible through regular content posted to places like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Focused and relevant posts and tweets have both helped build an active and engaged audience who is truly interested in the topic of aviation. Using the right hashtags has also attracted the right followers on social media, including industry contacts. Here are a few key strategies I used to build visibility:

  • Cross promotion to both email and social media
  • Re-purposing content into video
  • Engaging in relevant professional niche groups on Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Regular email updates to subscribers
  • A clear call-to-action on blog posts and social media
  • Communication with Fans and followers
  • Paid advertisements on Facebook

In order to grow a great network you need to be engaging with specific niche communities and share their content as well. Here’s how you can boost your influence online and move toward thought leadership if that is your goal:

1 – Articles highlighting your book/product/service

Your blog is the main hub to share your expert knowledge on a regular basis. As you build content over time you can attract news media outlets and guest blogging opportunities. This will help improve your subscriber rate as well and help move your website up the rank up on Google as you include helpful information that can be featured in their snippets section. As your content is shared on social media any audience reactions will also have an impact on your visibility through social signals.

2 – Publish a book or video series

A book and/or video channel is your calling card to brand recognition and establishing authority in your niche. You can pull information right from your existing blog posts or from ideas you have already gathered for an upcoming publication. Becoming an author or establishing a podcast video program will help establish an interested audience within your niche. Leverage live video to spark an interest and build this strategy into your overall digital marketing plan.

3 – Attend offline and webinar events

You can create the opportunity to be invited to a speaking event, which can either be online, at a specific venue, or though a television or radio interview by becoming involved in conferences, webinars, and special events. Speaking is a good way to boost your authority and connect with your community on a personal level. The more people you meet at these places the more doors that can be opened for you to become a key speaker or presenter.

4 – YouTube is still the premier network for video

It is reported by Clutch and Smart Insights that YouTube is in the top three most effective social networks for brands today. You can build your visibility here by sharing the videos you already have on a branded channel. While an occasional live event is good in attracting a larger audience quickly it is equally important to put together something that is professional with the help of an outside source. This is especially important to do if you have an upcoming book, product launch or speaking event.

5 – Join targeted groups on social media

It’s important to be making new connections daily and one way to accomplish this is through specific niche groups that have a active and engaged members. The key is to be both helpful and supportive by answering questions, feedback on discussions, and sharing valuable information that applies to the group. As you demonstrate your authority by your answers others will soon want to connect with you. The best places to start are on Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and in specific Twitter Chats. Remember it’s all about building relationships, and not sales.

6 – Get busy on mobile platforms

Mobile marketing has become a large part of reaching an audience on social media. Places like Instagram and Snapchat allow you to show a behind the scenes look and post content that your audience can relate to. Live videos and stories are becoming increasingly popular as your followers get to track your journey with you and interact.

7 – Don’t completely leave out advertising

Organic reach has dropped significantly over the last couple of years — set aside a budget that allows you to fill in the gaps and reach people through targeted ads. The key to success is to target a narrow audience with specific keywords on a particular topic with eye-catching headlines and graphics that let your audience know right away what your ad is about.

Whether you decide to move beyond influence and into thought leadership this all begins with careful research and reaching out to your community in a way that shows you not only care about what they are interested in, but can solve their problems. Always keep the end goal in mind whether this is to become an author, speaker, full-time blogger, or successful eCommerce business. This will enable you to better focus on what you want your audience will look like and which leaders in your industry are best to connect with.