When we bring on a new client, I’m typically the Dandelion that builds the content strategy. It makes sense since I’m a content strategist. But it’s also because one of my favorite things is to figure out what type of content works for specific industries.
I always start with the basics:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- What do you need to show people to achieve it?
I make lists like the one below (only exactly centered around your brand) and use the list as a building block for your brand’s overall posting strategy.
This week I took a deeper look at the general types of posts that work for thought leaders. If you’re a thought leader, or are working on becoming a thought leader, this article is going to walk you through the posts that you should be testing with your audience.
What is a Thought Leader?
I’m assuming you already did a google for this, but I’m going to cover it here to make sure we’re on the same page. Also, just a quick recommendation, read the answers in the “people also ask” section of google on this topic because it’ll really get you into the right mindset.
A thought leader is someone whose opinions are taken seriously and that has influence in a specific industry or on a certain topic where they have expertise.
That’s really it. It isn’t always someone of massive fame either. You can be a thought leader to just your followers or on just a hyper-focused topic. The only qualification for “thought leader” is that people want to consume what you have to say about what you think.
Being a thought leader is different than being an influencer. An influencer’s pull comes from having a huge number of followers, but a thought leader is someone whose pull comes from being THE followable expert on a topic. Yes, you can be both.
How to Become a Thought Leader
Something that I love about working with Thought Leaders is that becoming recognized as a thought leader is a secondary goal. It’s counter-intuitive, I know, but this is also what sets a thought leader apart from an influencer.
Thought leaders are consistent.
Your number one goal as a thought leader is to share what you know, and to put it out there really, really consistently. Consistency is key. Say stuff. Be honest. Be polarizing. Just get it out there (stay on brand) and your audience base will grow.
We preach consistency all the time, so this concept shouldn’t be new to you. Know that there’s an extra level of importance here because your opinion holds sway.
Thought leaders are refreshing.
One thing to remember is that what you know has to be new somehow. It can be framed in a new way or it can come from your own research, but ripping off other people’s work will never land you in thought leadership position for very long.
This article is an example of thought leadership content because it’s based on information we’ve been gathering from our own data and from watching other successful thought leaders. It also doesn’t really exist right now where a strategist literally just tells you what you should be posting.
As a side note, we should probably be email gating this content. I’m not going to because I want you to have it and use it but you should sign up for extra tips via email. Just click here. (It’s #worthit)
Drive traffic and send emails
And speaking of emails, Neil Patel has an awesome article about how to position yourself as a thought leader. Follow his advice and build your newsletter base. We’re huge fans of emails, so if you’re working on thought leadership moves, jump on that newsletter bandwagon.
My main focus here is what to post to drive traffic to your site to get those email sign ups. It’s easy to say, “just produce content” but it leads to the inevitable question, “what kind of content?” And rightfully so. Choosing the right kind of content to drive the right kind of traffic is daunting, even for us!
So here’s the tea (which is a term Courtney taught me about in this sassy episode of our podcast) about the kind of content you should be producing.
13 Types of Posts That Will Help You Become a Thought Leader
Yes, okay. So I’m going to say this right now that our focus is primarily on Instagram and Facebook. You can do these posts on other platforms, Twitter is great for posting as a thought leader, but keep in mind that’s a more conversational space where you should be engaging more than just posting.
I will also say that if you’re interested in becoming a thought leader, you need to be producing hella content that is high quality. You should also be producing pillar content – like a blog, vlog, or a podcast (or all three). Remember that you’re the expert. You want people to learn from you so just posting randomly on social media won’t get you very far as an expert thought leader. (Steps off soapbox.)
Here’s your list. It goes without saying that some will be more beneficial than others, and you should test everything to find what works best for you.
1 – Short Video Clips of You Doing the Thing You’re an Expert in
These typically get the highest engagement from people in your ideal audience. This can be speaking about your topic, a mindfulness practice, bench pressing, breathwork. Find a way to turn this expertise into a video that is 1 minute or less and post it.
If your pillar content is video blogging, you’ll have a lot of these. Take poignant clips from your videos and post those.
2 – Posts with Your Contact Information
This is crazy to put in an article, but make it easy to find you. Post your website, offer white papers and .pdfs. If you’re only an IG figure and people have to hunt for you everywhere else in the world, you’re not going to get found. Make it impossibly easy for people to learn from you and reach out to you.
3 – Share Specific Knowledge Without Fear
Share your specific knowledge in a way that makes sense to the layperson, but don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid that someone will steal it and use it. Being a thought leader means you’ll be constantly inspiring minds to utilize your thoughts. People that try to pass other information off as their own very rarely, if ever, actually get anywhere in this industry.
4 – Posts from Other Industry Leaders
Don’t be selfish or think you live in a bubble. Quote other leaders, reach out to them to share their posts. You can guarantee that people that follow you are also following people like you and if you reach out and create connections with other leaders, you’ll be able to grow your own authority.
5 – Ask Engaging Questions
This might feel counterintuitive because you’re the expert. But you also need to be ask your audience questions about the things they’re interested in and their opinions about your topic. Becoming a thought leader means you have to lead. You lead discussions, you have pull on how people are approaching topics, you are on the ground with the masses on a mission of discovery WITH them, not for them.
6 – Use Quotes and Posts with Words
Quotes are cheesy, but they’re really engaging because people like to interact both visually and intellectually. Quote yourself and send people back to the pillar content the quote came from. Make a statement, especially if it’s polarizing, on relevant topics. Quote leaders that you respect and tag them!
7 – Make Recommendations
Your knowledge, if it isn’t self contained, comes from somewhere. Say where it comes from. Give book recommendations, make mindset music playlists, shout out podcasts you like. Do it all. It’s important that you share this stuff and don’t guru yourself like a loser.
8 – Images of You
Images of you work really well to get engagement. Especially if you’re candidly engaged in something on brand. Write dope captions to go along with it that share your passion for what you do and people will respect you that much more.
9 – Illustrations
Illustrations are a great way to get a point across in a soft way, and have been since print newspapers were invented. I think about this especially for thought leaders that are political or heavy hitting, a single panel illustration can be really powerful.
10 – Reposts and Shares that Connect with Your Brand
People are so caught up with “I only want to drive people to my site, and my information” that they forget about the point of social media, which is to connect with your community. SHARE POSTS and blogs with people and brands that you really vibe with – they’re out there.
Also repost and share things that people say about you – sometimes.
11 – Candid Emotional Impacts
Basically every single content article that you’re going to read talks about Gary Vaynerchuck and how brilliant he is, so I don’t have to go into that. I want to give a shout out to his media team here because they grab candid footage of him talking to people and offering them incredible emotional support for their next steps. If you can generate emotional impact for people, find a way to share that candid moment.
12 – Invites to Events
Uh, hello! You’re a thought leader! Are you going to events? What about speaking events? Are you hosting events, even in the park? Do you have facebook lives or live recorded webinars? You should be doing these things, INVITING PEOPLE AND POSTING ABOUT IT. Woof.
13 – Expectations
Thought leaders tend to be brave people with opinions that are polarizing. They research fringe information that people often find questionable/fascinating and they actively put themselves out on a limb with what they speak about. This is a double edged sword because it both means they can come under fire for their topics and that they can have influence over the behavior of their fans.
There isn’t a lot you can do about the trolls, naysayers, and haters—they aren’t worth your time—but you can, and should, be the bigger person and set an example for the behavior of your followers. Periodically talk about the expectations you have for the type of conduct that you expect from your loyal following, and what they can expect from you.
This is especially important as you grow. When you have influence over people you don’t know, you also don’t know what they will do in the name of your cause. Be honest about your boundaries and expectations, and also uphold those expectations yourself – people WILL follow your lead… because you’re their leader.
That’s your list! If you’re into this and you want to talk more specifically about posts for your brand, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org
Google Search, “what is a thought leader”