10 key questions for wannabe thought leaders

In a previous blog, I talked about thought leadership, what it is, and why the vast majority of wannabe thought leaders don’t deserve the title.  On a more positive note, if my blog didn’t put you off and you believe you have what it takes – I am convinced the upside warrants the effort. I hope the following questions will assist you in your endeavours.

  1. What’s your strategy? This might seem an obvious place to start, but if the goal is to answer questions that those in your target audience are asking, then what do you need in your toolkit? Also, are you working at industry, organisational, or product level? It’s important to understand this because being just one of these three types may not be enough to accomplish top-tier status.
  2. Where are you going to publish? Different social media sites, publications and channels have different audiences. If your article is for a technical industry publication, it will need to contain specific information for an expert readership. If it is for social media, tailor the content to the platform and be very wary of diluting your message across too many sites.
  3. How long should the content be? Your SEO manager may tell you that a certain word length is optimum for search engines, but the reality is that attention spans are shrinking. So don’t overdo it and keep things as brief as possible without losing your message.
  4. What is your motivation? Is it self-promotion or do you genuinely have something worth saying? There are many other ways of communicating marketing messages and if you overuse thought leadership you risk devaluing your content’s reputation.
  5. What’s your end goal? For many, being in direct contact with followers is the main goal. And, creating opportunities to build relationships with them. So, don’t think promotional channel, think trusted advisor. Gary Vaynerchuk says that social networks are like huge cocktail parties. People want to socialise and get to know you. Avoid spamming and hard-selling, and if you’re using email and newsletters in your thought leadership mix, treat every message like a letter to a friend.
  6. Are you adding the right value? It is worth asking this question regularly, as a sense check. Always ask why your audience should care and be sure to pack your content with practical, easy-to-consume useful information.
  7. Why are you publishing this content now? Is there a news story or trend this relates to specifically? If that is the case, make sure you are clear about it so your audience can appreciate its relevance. To be successful, you will also need to be consistent.
  8. What is the shopfront to your brand? Whether you have a blog, social media presence, podcast or media relations programme, do spend time thinking about your online landing location and the ‘impact’ on visitors as they land there. Do people immediately know they’re in the right place? Also, if people Google you, what do they find? Seek advice about branding and online presence.
  9. How can you buddy-up? Can you increase your reach by partnering with other thought leaders? Can you support others and create a win-win situation by perhaps guest blogging, or offering reciprocal content?
  10. Do you have a strong call to action (CTA)? This varies depending on the type of thought leadership content you have created. There may be no place for a CTA in opinion or visionary-led thought leadership but if you are driving debate or looking for support then your audience can be guided to engage – or taken on a content journey.

Good luck on your journey. You can read more on this topic on our website: Thought Leadership, Storytelling & Narrative Advisory, Digital & Content Marketing. If you would like to discuss how to plan and execute genuine thought leadership campaigns, please contact [email protected]