Thought Leadership Defined
Today’s brands can no longer rely on push marketing and traditional advertising. Consumers demand transparency and seek brands that prove themselves as thought leaders in their space. A thought leader can be defined as an individual or entity that differentiates themselves in a given space by being innovative and developing unique compelling content that provides value to the audience.
Thought leadership is not just about content marketing but rather presenting oneself (or entity) as an expert in a given field and becoming a trusted source for information.
Consumers are not just finding brands by clicking on ads and responding to email marketing. They are finding services and products via the social web and by consuming user generated content on topics related to what they are looking for. This is why it is imperative for a brand to define itself as an expert in their field and build trust with consumers by educating them. This is where thought leadership comes into play. Let other people tell your story and share your content. The more value your audience gains from the knowledge you provide, the more they will become your brand advocates, have positive discussions on the social web, and link to your content.
How Thought Leadership Plays a Role in SEO
We are living in a post Panda/Penguin era where we are truly at the mercy of Google algorithm updates. Google’s efforts to eliminate duplicate content, web spam, and poor link building strategies follow their usual mantra for continually improving the quality of content delivered in their SERPs. From an SEO and online marketing perspective however it has become increasingly more challenging to succeed with what have been fairly standard search engine optimization and link building tactics.
Now a brand can/must break it down into a simple formula with the following components for SEO and inbound marketing success:
- Be awesome and have a good product or service
- Be a thought leader
- Develop unique, compelling content designed to add value
- Market that content well
- Rinse and repeat
Seems so simple right?! Well, doing all of this requires building a great brand, buy in from stakeholders on content, consistency in effort, and determination. So before we all run off and start becoming “thought leaders” let’s take a look at:
- Why thought leadership and good content marketing lead to content curation
- How to become a thought leader
- The benefits of thought leadership and content marketing
- How all this affects SEO link building and inbound marketing efforts.
Why Content Curation is a Major Part of Thought Leadership
What is content “curation” anyway? Content curation is the process of finding, organizing, and sharing online content. Another part of content curation (and why it aids in the thought leadership process) is about adding value and insight to the content you are gathering/organizing/distributing.
Why is this important? Well if you plan on becoming or remaining a thought leader in your space you certainly want people to find and share your content. Content curation is also part of becoming a thought leader yourself. There are many reasons people share content but for the most part it is because they are impressed by what they find and think it will add value to others as well. They want to be a part of telling the story and be an advocate.
The frequency of sharing online content is growing exponentially. This plays a major role in how your audience becomes your brand advocate and tells your story for you. While this is happening, you begin to weave a wonderful “web” of content and inbound links to your website, blogs, videos, etc. We will talk more about this later.
How to become a Thought Leader
It first helps to be extremely knowledgeable on a given topic or range of similar topics. It’s not just about redistributing other people’s content as we discussed with the importance of content curation. To truly excel as a thought leader one must innovate, develop theories, test them, and present new (and possibly controversial) data to the audience. So the route to becoming a thought leader as I see it is the following:
The Benefits of Thought Leadership and Content Marketing
This part is simple. The more of an expert you are the more likely you will develop great content. The more great content you develop the easier it will be to market. As far as how you go about marketing that content it’s up to you. Here are some helpful steps to follow:
- Start by creating a platform and foundation using your website, blogs, and even videos
- Use SEO tactics to ensure that your content is easily found based on specific keyword searches
- Distribute your content via the social web using Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.
- Use various paid search marketing strategies for promoting content such as White Papers, Case Studies, and Research Reports
- Market the content directly by speaking at trade shows and conferences
The benefits are endless. The key benefit we want to discuss here however is the effect on inbound link building and SEO.
How Thought Leadership Affects SEO Link Building and Inbound Marketing
The following flow chart explains the direct positive impact that thought leadership has on improving your SEO rankings.