1. Home
  2. »
  3. Content Marketing
  4. »
  5. The Complete Guide to Thought Leadership Content

The Complete Guide to Thought Leadership Content

What does your content say about your brand?

Does it position you as an industry authority with the know-how to lead your customers into the stratosphere?

Does it offer valuable insights your audience won’t find anywhere else?

Does it provide actionable strategies for change that inspire social sharing and drive quality backlinks from reputable websites? 

Thought leadership content does all that and more. It’s one of the most effective ways to educate, inspire, and add value for customers through your content marketing. 

Research has shown 64% of B2B consumers see thought leadership content as a more trustworthy way to assess a brand’s expertise than its marketing or product content. 

But, thought leadership fails when it is too generic and lacks original insight. In this guide, you will learn how to effectively define, refine, and share thought leadership content to get your brand heard.

Authoritative content, backed by robust data and thorough research is the best way to cut through the mundane, uninspiring content that dominates the online space. Thought leadership will help you stay at the sharp end of the Google wedge. 

But first…

What is thought leadership content?

Thought leadership content leverages your unique perspectives, experiences, insights, and knowledge to position you and your brand as a leading authority in your industry or niche. 

Authority content comes from genuine insight. There’s no prerequisite to being famous or a big name, but you do need to know what you are talking about and be able to share your knowledge in an inspiring, original way that adds value for the reader.

Too often now, content is simply selling to people. Get your thought leadership content right and you’ll educate and inspire them instead. Bringing value to your customer experience with authority content automatically positions you as a leader in your field. This builds trust, brand recognition, loyalty, and increases revenue. 

From publishing white papers to opinion pieces on recent industry news, sharing personal experiences, providing in-depth industry analysis, generating trend reports, or offering unique perspectives on current events, thought leadership content comes in many forms. But, while long-form blog posts have been the go-to for authority content, there is no limit to where you can share your insights. 

Personal finance expert, Dave Ramsey, is an excellent example of someone using short, easily-digestible posts on Twitter to share their insights. 

Example of using Twitter to share thought leadership content (Dave Ramsey).

Use authoritative, well-researched thought leadership content as the backbone of your content strategy to ensure your brand stands out. 

Here’s what to keep in mind when releasing thought leadership content on different channels:

  1. Your website

Publish research, insights, or industry analysis as part of your online content or lead magnet strategy.

  1. Your blog:
    Ideal for sharing opinions, experiences, tips, comments on industry news, analysis, and unique insights.  
  1. Social media:
    Think infographics or headline statistics from research data, expert quotes, and thought-provoking insights in written or video format. 
  1. Events:
    Look for keynote speaking opportunities, panel discussions, or webinar appearances.
  1. Podcasts:
    Your own, or appear as a guest and share your episode. 

Don’t forget to repurpose each piece of thought leadership content you publish – tailored for each new channel and audience. White papers or opinion pieces can be turned into multiple Twitter threads, data and diagrams included in blogs are great talking points for Instagram or LinkedIn posts, and keynote speeches can be filmed and shared on Youtube, and other social channels, or written up as a series of blog posts.

If you want some thought leadership content examples, Moz does this well, repurposing its informative ‘Whiteboard Fridays’ videos into a series of blog posts. 

Excerpts of thought leadership articles on Moz's website

What are the benefits of thought leadership content?

Effective thought leadership content adds value, builds trust, and helps increase your brand recognition – all of which drive increased leads and revenue. 

According to an Edelman report, 65% of buyers believe thought leadership content changes their perception of a brand for the better. 63% of those buyers also said that insightful thought leadership content proves that a company understands and can solve the business challenges its customers face.

But, thought leadership content isn’t just about generating more leads for your business. Its value goes beyond the bottom line. It opens up partnership opportunities and helps give back to your wider industry community. 

Is thought leadership content for everyone?

A recent Grist survey revealed that 63% of B2B buyers are turned off by thought leadership content that is too generic. 

Authoritative, insightful content that adds value is imperative. 

Only follow a thought leadership strategy if you or your brand has the expertise and experience to be a true authority in your industry. Plagiarism, being too generic, lacking the depth of knowledge to produce thought leadership content to a consistently high standard, or relying solely on controversial stances to build your audience will eventually alienate your customers and sow a seed of distrust in your brand. 

According to the Financial Times Learning from Leaders Report, there are three fundamental elements to engaging thought leadership content. 

  1. Powerful data
  2. Compelling storytelling
  3. Strong design. 

If the content you are planning is lacking in any of these three areas, don’t write it.

The three fundamental elements of thought leadership content (FT Longitude – Learning from Leaders Report

Step-by-step guide to becoming a thought leader

Here’s how to become a thought leader:

  1. Identify a few areas of expertise that you can create content around. Consider your industry experience and what insights and opinions you can offer. Nail your niche and double down on it to become an expert in your narrow field. Think about what has been said before, and what hasn’t. Can you add a new perspective?

Thought leadership quadrant diagram (The Hoffman Agency, via LinkedIn)

  1. Figure out what kind of content resonates with your audience. Analyse where you get the most engagement – on social media, blog posts, videos, etc. – and think about the platforms on which your target audience is most active.
  1. Test out a few channels to see what works for you and your audience.  
  1. Set KPIs to measure performance. Defining clear goals and a way to keep track of your progress towards them ensures you understand what content is working and what isn’t. Reviewing and adjusting your strategy will keep your insights fresh and aligned with your audience.  

Is all thought leadership content meant to get more leads?

Simple answer: No. 

That’s actually one of the goals of content marketing. And no, they’re not exactly the same thing.

Primarily, your thought leadership content is there to teach your audience about something new in a new way. You do this through data storytelling, videos, or written content. 

Showcasing your expertise builds trust. Trust that you and your brand can solve your customer’s problems. As 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious, trust is a powerful way to encourage buyers to commit. 

People don’t buy from brands; people buy from people. Your thought leadership content builds the relationships that cultivate sales. Sharing your unique perspectives helps build a picture of the people behind your brand.

Not sure how that’s different from content marketing? Here’s a guide on content marketing vs thought leadership.  

How to ensure your thought leadership content doesn’t fail

When Grist released its Value of B2B Thought Leadership survey, it revealed three key takeaways. Thought leadership content underperforms when:

  • It’s too generic.
  • The insights and ideas included aren’t original. 
  • It promotes the brand or author instead of offering solutions to the reader’s problems.

How to create thoughtful, engaging thought leadership content (Social Hire)

Ultimately, the best way to ensure your thought leadership delivers for your brand is to ensure the person behind it is a genuine authority on the subject—someone who can provide fresh insights backed by robust data and thorough research.

Interestingly enough, since the start of the pandemic, thousands of people have turned to LinkedIn to demonstrate their expertise with high-quality thought leadership content. So, if you’re just starting out, taking some time out to explore different leaders in your industry and seeing how they create content for LinkedIn should help a ton.

Scale your thought leadership strategy with Wizeo

Who better to transform your insights and expertise into well-articulated content than subject matter specialists with in-depth backgrounds in your industry? 

That’s where Wizeo comes in. We only work with specialist writers, not generalists, to craft consistently high-quality content backed by an innate understanding of your niche. If you need to scale quickly, we have the resources to make it happen. 

Your thoughts plus our words are a powerful combination. Contact us to start scaling your thought leadership content. 

FAQs

  1. How do you write thought leadership content?
    By being a genuine expert in your field. Find your niche and provide insightful, new perspectives, innovative solutions to customer problems, and authoritative, thought-provoking takes on industry news and trends. 

  2. Why is thought leadership content important?
    Because it increases your brand visibility and drives trust – which ultimately leads to increased sales. Thought leadership content establishes you as the go-to expert in your field and helps prove to your customers that you understand their business challenges and that you can provide solutions to their problems.

  3. Is thought leadership the same thing as content marketing?
    Thought leadership is one branch of your content marketing strategy. While content marketing may have the overarching aim to sell your product, thought leadership will focus on establishing your expertise, increasing your visibility, and driving trust in your brand. Both focus on adding value for your customers.

Table of Contents