Thought Leadership 102: How to Weaponize Your Words

thought leadership

marketing plan template3 strategies to use in your content marketing distribution plans to maximize thought leadership

In my last piece, I explained how thought leadership articles can be incredibly powerful tools that establish your industry expertise by tapping into a publication’s devoted audience.

While content marketing remains a relatively new concept that is quickly becoming commonplace, thought leadership marketing actually dates back to the late 1800s, when engineers began publishing books on production techniques that made them sought after experts on factory efficiency.

Thanks to the digital media revolution, you need not write an entire tome to enhance your credibility. A well-thought-out article that lives online will suffice. But placing bylines simply isn’t enough to expose the masses to your musings. To make this form of content marketing truly worthwhile, you must first strategize its distribution to ensure maximum brand exposure.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you work towards this goal:

1. Go Above and Beyond Basic Social Media Support

After publishing a piece of thought leadership, many organizations will merely tweet about it or share its link on Facebook. These efforts should be considered mandatory, but they’re also the bare minimum because they simply won’t do enough to get your article out there.

Maximizing social distribution means hitting on every touchpoint you can, disseminating your thought leadership in ways that will greatly enlarge its readership.

LinkedIn Groups that are outside of a company’s or executive’s networks are a great start as these established channels allow you to share content with people who are likely to find it valuable. This translates to more engagement and higher quality interactions.

You should also consider creating well-crafted responses to Quora questions that reference your work. Just follow the site’s guidelines on what constitutes a good answer to ensure yours will be appropriate.

Finally, responding intelligently within Reddit threads by utilizing links to your piece can greatly extend your reach, so long as your activities do not appear promotional.

2. Don’t Stop at Publishing the Piece

A byline article in a respectable publication is exceptional for increasing your brand’s visibility but in terms of driving people to read it, you need to help your own cause. That’s where reflective pieces come in. These are short descriptions that reflect the content of the thought leadership and provide a lead-in encouraging people to access the full story.

Reflective pieces should be shared on internal blogs and in company newsletters. They can also be placed on sites like Medium, where leaders regularly post their ideas to connect with likeminded audiences.

Publishing reflective pieces on LinkedIn is another great way to make people aware of your thought leadership work. Ultimately, these blurbs should act like a film trailer, briefly demonstrating why the content is worth seeking out without giving away any of the major takeaways to be gained from it.

Your organization’s marketing materials are another excellent place to highlight your thought leadership work. Whether in a sales deck, webinar or media kit, mentioning your published pieces firmly establishes your credibility within the industry and may drive additional readers to your articles.

Similarly, including thought leadership pieces in pitches to the organizers of conferences and other speakership opportunities helps establish your expertise on a subject.

3. It’s OK to Pay to Play

If you’re really looking to put your article in front of plenty of people, don’t discount paid distribution. Exceptional pieces can leverage a variety of paid formats that cost-effectively spread your words across the Internet, enabling them to reach readers that might not be accessed through some of the means I’ve already discussed.

Content recommendation engines aim to support content discovery across the web, displaying personalized suggestions to users that, for a price, can include your work.

Paid social promotion via LinkedIn and Twitter can add power to a campaign as these tactics offer marketing segmentation that allows you to handpick who will see posts about your thought leadership based on things like their interests or location. And native advertising within niche sites means your bylines can be delivered to applicable audiences at scale.

Thought leadership articles are reflections of your organization that will live on long after they’re published. But writing them is only half the battle. Utilizing these distribution tactics will ensure you are properly arming your content strategy with thought leadership pieces that act as marketing artillery on the frontlines of brand exposure.

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Zachary Weiner is the CEO of Emerging Insider Communications, a boutique content marketing and public relations organization. He acts as a frequent lecturer and writer across the marketing and technology space.