How to use thought leadership to increase brand awareness
We’ve previously explored how – and why – to do thought leadership in a Luminous blog. This time we’re focussing on how to use thought leadership to increase brand awareness, along with how to make the published articles work hard for you.
Just to recap, here’s our definition of what Thought Leadership should be all about:
“This is a style of PR activity intended to promote the profile of an individual or business and let audiences know they’re an expert in their field. Thought leadership can involve a number of approaches. It could feature ghostwritten articles bylines by your CEO, or it could involve someone in your business providing a meaty quote that shows you know your industry and marketplace inside-out”.
Essentially, anyone can write a thought leadership piece and you don’t have to be an expert to use your thought leadership to increase brand awareness. As long as they have an expert opinion on a topic or industry, based on their own knowledge and experience. A thought leadership piece should ideally consist of genuine, original content and be relevant to the intended audience. If the audience learns something new this helps create trust and in turn value for your brand.
Adopt a Marketing Strategy
A great way to maximise your gain from thought leadership is to use search optimised quality content. There’s no point producing a fantastic thought leadership piece if no-one can find it online to read it!
Using keyword-rich relevant content ensures greater ease when searching for online. Equally try working backwards, researching which keywords are the most popular. It’s a great indicator of what topics people are searching for. So think about what topics would be most relevant to focus on to add credibility to your brand.
Continuously appearing high up in search engine rankings will identify you as an authoritative voice on these matters. In turn, it will instil a sense of trust in your audience. It will also increase traffic to your website. This will help grow your audience’s knowledge of your products and services. And ultimately validate why you are experts in your field.
Boost your Profile on Social Media
Today, most of us understand that social media is a simple way to build your brand. Publishing posts relevant to your company, you ensure active engagement with your audience. They have the ability to comment, share and like your content. It also allows you to publicly comment on industry related news, the beginnings of establishing yourself as a thought leader.
But what you might not realise is that by posting links to your own thought leadership pieces on social media you can share your views without looking too self-promotional. It’s all about coming across as a trusted piece of insight. If it starts to feel like a sales pitch then you lose all credibility. So take the self-promo out, and you gain their trust. Then through your followers on social media sharing and re-tweeting these posts, you can organically grow your audience. Especially as it’s likely they will have like-minded and industry-related people within their networks. And don’t forget to use relevant hashtags to ensure that it’s picked up by searches surrounding the topics covered. There are plenty of hashtag tracking tools you can use to analyse which hashtags are performing most effectively such as tweetbinder.com and hashtagify.me.
Email newsletters are another great tool to use to reach out directly to your audience. For a start you already know they have a a genuine interest in your brand. Repurpose thought leadership pieces as blogs on your website to use as linked content across all of your social media channels for maximum exposure.
Look like a Rockstar!
When it comes to identifying your voice of authority, think about who in the business would be most suitable to push the message across in a bylined comment. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the CEO. It can be anyone with an involvement in the business decision chain such as the CFO or CTO. Consider who will be best placed to convince your audience, as well as potential new customers, to take the next step.
Thought leadership is all about providing an expert voice. Through original comments and fresh insight you want to make your audience sit back and think, wow! And to make your competitors sit back and think sh*t we need to up our game!
Creating a ‘wow’ moment in every thought leadership piece is never going to be easy – but it is possible. Analyse a piece of data differently, demonstrate a new take on a relevant topic, or simply challenge your audience to view a subject matter in a way they never have before! If your audience feel like they’ve learnt something new and they believe in it, then that will be the first step in building their trust in your brand.
It’s important to remember that thought leadership is not a selling technique! Your audience should already be aware of what you can offer in terms of products or services. It’s more about showing your ideas are meaningful and valuable so your audience buy into you and your company. It’s also about demonstrating empathy – if your audience feel that you understand their pain-points and are bringing new ideas to the table to help alleviate these, they’ll be more inclined to believe your values are genuine.
Using aspects of content marketing, thought leadership is more about educating and leading the conversation in a particular field. It should challenge the audience and inspire them. You want them to recognise you as a rockstar in your field, not just a backing singer!
Generate News when there is none!
So where do you start when deciding what topics to consider for a thought leadership piece? Perhaps a first step is to turn towards your own customers, or potential customers, and consider any pain-points or challenges they have identified. That way you’re acknowledging real-life problems that your industry is currently facing. But you’re also offering support or insightful solutions on how to navigate them. Then you’ll create that sought-after ‘wow’ factor that we talked about earlier.
We’ve previously covered the topic of newsjacking on our Luminous blog. Essentially it’s jumping on the bandwagon of a current news story that you can provide an expert opinion on. Another beneficial way of positioning your credibility as a thought leader.
If you are simply looking for a way to establish yourself as an expert but there really isn’t newsworthy content to back it up, then generate your own! Surveys are a great way to do this. It will also provide you with your own unique data which is much sought after by top tier publications. And if the nationals publicise you as an authority figure then you’re winning!
Thought leadership isn’t just a one-hit wonder. If you want your thought leadership to increase brand awareness, it needs to be original, thought-provoking and credible. If you achieve this then it will also have longevity. It’s ability to be repurposed also means you can gain maximum exposure out of a single piece whether it be as a number of social media posts, a blog on your website, a webinar, a podcast, at a speaking engagement etc.