In 2020 and 2021 there’s been a huge surge in the volume of online content claiming to be “thought leadership”. But is it really?
LinkedIn’s research shows that 63% of buyers feel that thought leadership “is important in providing proof that an organization genuinely understands or can solve your specific business challenges”.
The problem is that just producing lots of content and publishing it online is not enough to make anyone a true thought leader. The phrase itself clearly implies that there’s more to it than that.
Let’s get back to LinkedIn’s research for a minute.
Their B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study is a fascinating read. If you want to read all their findings there’s a link to the complete report at the end of this article.
For now let’s look at some of the key points the report makes. It reflects the views of over 3,500 corporate decision makers from all around the world and from a variety of industries and company sizes.
More than half of them (54%) say they spend more than an hour each week reading what they hope will be genuine thought leadership content. Most of them are somewhat disappointed most of the time.
OVer 70% say that less than half of what they read provides any sort of valuable insights or actionable ideas! That certainly doesn’t sound like thought leadership. It sounds like a colossal waste of time and a huge missed opportunity for the people producing the content.
Building trust is the foundation of leadership
It may even be worse than that, too. If you’re pumping out content and positioning yourself as a thought leader but your content is of marginal relevance you’re running a risk of real damage to your brand.
Producing high value, relevant content is a wonderful way to build trust and engagement. But that takes time and consistent effort and it can be lost in a heartbeat if your content is superficial and just like what everyone else is publishing.
As with any endeavour, if you want to lead in the world of content creation you have to be brave enough to differentiate and present your own unique thoughts and perspectives. Offer new ways of looking at common issues your audience grapples with. You can’t follow the crowd and expect to be seen as an authority.
The Edelmann – LinkedIn study raised a few other vital points that should give pause to any would-be thought leader who thinks there’s a quick, easy, copy-and-paste way to achieve that standing.
More than half of the senior decision makers surveyed say that if a piece of content doesn’t hold their attention within a minute they move on. It’s also important to them that the author has already established a high degree of credibility as an authority in their field. There needs to be some evidence that what they have to tell the world is worth listening to.
The absolute worst is when content masquerading as thought leadership is really a poorly disguised cold sales pitch. And just pumping out posts to keep your social media profiles looking busy is not a strategy for success. It’s a long game, not a quick hit.
How will your audience benefit from what you publish?
Every post or blog article should aim to deliver a genuine benefit of some sort to your audience. So before you hit ‘Publish’ ask yourself honestly how life will change for any one of them as a result of reading your post.
Every post that goes live, in its own way points back to your brand. Does it help to build up or diminish your standing as an authority in your field?
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is, but if you do it well the rewards can be tremendous. The effort you invest will definitely pay off.
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