Developing Thought Leadership

This article is part of a series of writings we are posting to our blog, which are excerpted from  Chris Rosica’s latest book, The Power of B2B Social Media. This book explores the often overlooked and undervalued benefits of B2B social media. It clearly demonstrates the advantages that companies marketing to other businesses realize when embracing this important marketing channel.  

Thought leaders are the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are the subject matter experts considered to have the most informed opinions. Seth Godin is a thought leader in the field of marketing; Gary Vaynerchuk, Verne Harnish, and Dan Sullivan are thought leaders in the field of entrepreneurship; Marissa Mayer is a thought leader in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).

In today’s world, thought leadership is the new public relations. It is becoming as important as PR was in the pre-Internet era. Most B2B companies today use earned media, content marketing, speaking engagements, and social media to build their thought leadership.

The pre-Internet, pre-cable television media landscape consisted of a handful of TV networks, terrestrial radio, daily and weekly newspapers, 75 or so national magazines, and a few primary trade publications in each industry. On the other hand, today’s media landscape includes a head-spinning array of outlets encompassing satellite radio, thousands of broadcast and cable stations (each offering numerous programs), hundreds of national magazines (with just as many regional ones), countless podcasts, thousands of trade publications, and tens of thousands of online business and industry channels—plus an incalculable number of blogger and social sites.

Thought leadership is not just about brand awareness, but the space you occupy in your customers’ minds. If you say the name Weili Dai in a tech setting, everyone will know that you are talking about someone famous for her work in semiconductor technology. A thought leader, much like an influencer, is an individual, brand, or company that is recognized as an authority in its field, one with specialized expertise—a trusted and highly sought-after resource with credible, trustworthy subject matter experts or key opinion leaders.

When a company works toward building thought leadership, it can authentically connect with its customer base and dramatically increase demand for its products or services. If it succeeds with the expert positioning, it can even become an industry frontrunner, heightening awareness and brand equity. 

Seven Strategies for Using Social Media to Grow Thought Leadership

  1. Refine your positioning and messaging
  2. Generate earned media
  3. Leverage social media to manage perception
  4. Strengthen your content marketing efforts on social channels
  5. Remember that people create thought leadership
  6. Repurpose and leverage earned media content on social (and elsewhere)
  7. Connect with influencers on social channels

Look for more excerpts fromThe Power of B2B Social Media, coming soon on our blog.   

Chris is president of Rosica Communications, an award-winning national PR, digital marketing, and integrated marketing communications agency that specializes in the nonprofit, education, animal health/pet product, and healthcare sectors.