Bitesize Blogs. The Foundation of Social Thought Leadership and Brand Building
Thought leadership can often be seen as a big scary concept. A concept so far out of reach and reserved for the major players in our industry that the rest of us can’t get near. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.
The industry is so big and so varied that there is room for us all to showcase our knowledge and generate leads. That’s right; there’s also enough leads to go around, too.
Content marketing isn’t actually a new tactic – the term was first coined back in 1996 by John F Oppedahl to describe a practice that had already existed for hundreds of years. That is, using information to progress leads or prospects from one stage of awareness to another. So the theory has always existed, but the definitions came later.
And that’s all thought leadership is – just another branch of content marketing. We synthesise the information at our disposal into blogs, vlogs, podcasts and other channels to showcase knowledge and become a trusted and authoritative source of information in our industry. We can generate leads and move prospects further down the funnel by doing that.
But there’s a new channel for thought leadership. Well, not entirely new, but it’s the fast food of blogging. Social media, LinkedIn in particular, is the go-to place for breaking up large chunks of text (like this one) or hours of podcasting into bite-size blogs.
The fast food of blogging
Repurposing content is a new trend that should be a significant feature in your distribution strategy. Using social media to turn one piece of content into ten is an intelligent way to flesh out your content strategy and is the most accessible format for attracting site visits and establishing authority.
Instead of posting long-form content to your website or podcast platform, you can reel in leads from your network using bite size nuggets of wisdom you came up with as part of your content planning process.
B2B social media has effectively become the fast food of long-form content. Key insights from your industry can be shared online as a way to attract visitors to your long-form content, where they’ll arrive as a warm lead.
Sure, SEO has its place with search intent acting as a way to qualify leads, but your network is already warm. All you need to do is encourage them to reach out to book that call, download that whitepaper, or read your blog through the breadcrumbs you leave on social media.
Instead of consuming two thousand words of a blog or two hours of a podcast, your audience can digest smaller pieces of information that give them what they want in a much shorter space of time. Call it an appetiser for the main event, if you like.
But how to create the breadcrumbs? Well, with effective thought leadership.
The Basics That so Many People Forget
To position yourself as a thought leader on social media and build trust and authority, there are five fundamental factors to consider. Five basics that are so often forgotten.
The initial key is in what I’ve already discussed – the bite-sized blogs – but to capitalise on the content you produce, you have to back it up and keep backing it up. One of the foundations of thought leadership is consistency – more on that later.
How many LinkedIn profiles or blog pages have one, two, maybe three posts at a push? Far too many.
There’s a virtual graveyard of content out there, left behind by businesses that couldn’t find the time, budget or motivation to remain consistent. It’s one of the fundamentals that get forgotten.
Let’s take a look at those fundamentals in more detail.
Show your expertise on your page
Perhaps the most important facet of thought leadership, showing expertise wherever you can is absolutely pivotal. Your personal and agency page on social media is:
a) Where your audience will first land when they connect with you or come to check you out
b) The home of all your content, meaning your expertise should be clear for all to see.
You can use case studies, testimonials, data insights and your own informed opinions to demonstrate expertise. By showing your expertise, you automatically begin to elevate your position to a thought leader and an industry voice.
Your opinions have to be original, though; that part is crucial.
You can, of course, take inspiration from anybody and anywhere else (think social posts, emails, blogs) but make sure you put your own spin on it and make it uniquely yours.
The most trusted talking heads in the industry garner thousands of views, likes and leads through opinions alone. They take topics of all sizes and niches and produce their own hot take. For example, take gating content. The big question over whether you should gate your content or not is a huge conversation driver, and by having an opinion on it, content marketing agencies are showing they know their stuff.
Not only does showing your expertise assert you as a thought leader, but it’s also a way to generate leads. You can maximise your revenue by shouting about your past success and bring in fresh leads. On top of that, posting your own opinions is a great conversation starter and relationships are borne out of conversation.
However, none of this is possible without the second part of your foundation, which is tip number two.
To fully take advantage of the space you occupy on social media; you have to establish a solid foundation of consistency. You can have the best insights in the industry or the most polished case studies, but it means nothing if you post irregularly.
By not showing up, people won’t take notice – and neither will the platform’s algorithms. LinkedIn, in particular, rewards those that post regularly and consistently. As a result, your one-off posts will get lost somewhere along the way, drastically minimising the reach they may have otherwise had.
Conversely, those that show up every day (or at least two to three times a week) will reap the rewards. It’s quite common for users on LinkedIn to take up the challenge of posting every day for a year. The results can be staggering – provided you’re still providing value in your posts and not posting for the sake of it.
That’s not to say that you have to post every day. The secret is in the consistency, not the frequency. As long as you show up on roughly the same days each week and share your insights and opinions, you’ll have a solid foundation.
Stay on top of industry news
This tip is all about relevancy. To assert yourself as a thought leader and back up your own opinions, your agency page should show that you’re abreast and up to date with industry news and insights.
The digital world is fast evolving, and agencies have to prove that they’re at the cutting edge to win the forward-thinking clients that are the best to work with. You have to make sure that you’re relevant to the industry, not a relic from the past. That might sound dramatic, but it’s easy to forget how quickly you can be left behind in the agency world.
Combine your insights and success stories with relevant articles from your industry on your page, and you’ll continue to assert yourself as an industry voice. I spoke earlier about becoming an industry voice and a trusted source of information, and sharing these articles are the key to that.
You can go a step further, too. Create your own articles and use your team to your advantage. With your team at the coal face every day, they should be on top of the latest trends and techniques and are well-positioned to add to your talking head status.
Your team are an asset. Make the most of them
Building a brand on B2B social media requires consistency, as I’ve mentioned. But it also requires a team effort. It’s one thing to have an agency brand, but what about personal brands?
You should be empowering your team to take ownership of their LinkedIn pages to help elevate the reach of the agency page. They should be sharing their own thoughts and success stories which has two benefits:
a) It showcases the talent at the agency and the success, challenges and resolutions you are having
b) It promotes and furthers the reach of the agency brand
There is an argument that this means your team may get tapped up by another agency looking to recruit better talent, but if your culture is as it should be, they’ll want to stay either way. Even if they leave for a better opportunity, you can be safe in knowing that you empowered them and gave them the skills to achieve said opportunity.
So as well as posting their own content and shining on behalf of the agency, they can re-post the content that you share on the company page. It’s a win-win for all concerned.
Engage and start conversations
Community is a significant part of building a brand, but thought leaders also need to engage with their audience and build relationships.
You’ve got great content, you post consistently, you’re relevant, and your team are part of the strategy. That is all underpinned by starting conversations and engaging with other industry leaders and business pages. B2B social media has to be unselfish for it to work for you.
Others will see that you engage with the community around you, which will work in your favour. You can then be seen as approachable, unselfish, and willing to help others.
It’s also about gaining insights and knowledge from other thought leaders – never assume that you know everything.
The best thought leaders in the industry are consistently engaging and helping out the community, which only promotes your brand further.
Positioning yourself as a thought leader isn’t easy. It takes time, effort, consistency and buy-in from the whole team. Your content has to be planned in advance, you have to engage with others, and you have to stay on top of the latest trends.
But being honest, shouldn’t we all be doing those things anyway?
We should be trying to contribute to the industry and putting our best selves out there, challenges and all. Thought leaders have bad days too, and the best ones share their challenges and how they resolved them.
Social media can often be seen as a negative force, but it’s up to us to change that narrative. If we can fill the space with bite-size blogs, opinions, insights and engage with the community, we can make it a community for all. And the best bit? You’ll build a brand at the same time.