B2B Marketing Blog

How to Develop Thought Leadership Online

By Lauren Hylbak
Jun 9, 2014

Developing thought leadership online is a great way to increase your personal brand and drive action toward products and services you care about. Having strong thought leadership skills can help develop your reputation in your specific industry and increase the influence you have on your target community. Some of the best thought leaders are those who create valuable and relevant content, promote their content, and network with other thought leaders to build relationships.

Create valuable and relevant content

To be a strong thought leader you must bring something new to the table. It’s important that when you are creating content for your target audience you think about what problems they have that you can help solve. Offering solutions will create value for your audience and increase engagement. When providing insight, don’t try to sell your audience anything. Make sure that you are informing and educating your readers on how they can use your solutions to help solve their problems. Disassociating yourself from your company can help avoid this temptation. High quality content is key; give your audience insights that only an industry expert or professional in the field would have. Keeping this standard high will help build your reputation and increase your influence on your community. 

Promote your content

thought leadership and pipeline marketing

Once your content is created it’s essential that you share and promote it as much as possible. Increasing readership will expand your community and grow your reputation as a thought leader. Remember, being a thought leader is only as valuable as your readers see fit. Thought leadership is in the minds of your community, so keep them informed! Social media is a great outlet to engage with your audience and build a strong following. Sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare, and Medium make it easy to share your content and expand your community. Guest post on blogs and get other industry professionals to help publish and promote your content to their audience. Although it’s good to have multiple channels for promoting your content, make sure you narrow your target audience down to ensure you are marketing your content correctly.

Network with other thought leaders

Many people take a “If I write it, they will come” approach to online thought leadership. This is a weak assumption as there are millions of articles published everyday on various blogs and websites around the Internet. To become a successful thought leader you must build your community by fostering relationships with other influencers, using their knowledge and connections to spread your message to your target audience.

Best way to shorten this long-term cycle is to use the connections you currently have. Sift through your (already established) personal network to find those who you would consider to be industry influencers, leaders, or connectors. Again, LinkedIn is a great place to start as your contacts are easily searchable and they let you export the details. Contact this list and ask them for a quick interview about what is takes to be an industry thought leader. Compiling and publishing these interviews will allow you to get in front of the audience of each expert, expanding your network to a much greater degree. This great spike in visibility will allow you to showcase your expertise with a larger community, thus developing yourself as an industry thought leader.

Becoming a thought leader will enable you to generate potential customers at every stage of the sales pipeline, depending on who your target audience is. As you increase the quality of your content, the quality of your audience will increase as well. This gives you access to higher quality leads and thus potential customers. As the basis of pipeline marketing, focus on the quality of leads, not the quantity. This will be the most beneficial for your company in the long run. 

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