How do you become a thought leader through Content Marketing?

March 30, 2016 | Content Marketing

What’s the benefit of building thought leadership? You might ask.

An industry thought leader has too many followers. They follow him because they expect him to analyze the trends in the industry, reveal its secrets and list down the best practices.

Building an audience can make your SEO strategies more functional. It is possible through content marketing, which is now the bottomline of SEO. Unless you write high-quality content, nobody will recognize you, let alone be following you.

Here are some content marketing tips to build a community of followers:

Motivation and audiences

A content marketer’s sweet spot often comes between him and his audiences. It often doesn’t align with what his audiences want from him. But as the sweet spot is the source of his motivation, he couldn’t simply give up on this.

At the same time, he has to keep his readers happy. Very few are lucky enough to connect the two. The ones who are not that lucky need to gain expertise in new areas; the areas that a good number of readers are interested in exploring. Or they should find a new set of readers, who are interested in areas that they feel comfortable to write.

Being consistent

Building authority is never a linear process, it has many components to it. One of those components is consistency. The content marketer has to be consistent throughout, from selecting the topic to picking and maintaining a style.

Consistency is among the key characteristics of a marketer who dreams of building an authority. Think about it; today you write on American baseball, the next day you write on web design best practices and the day after that on IRS taxes.

You can write in all the above areas, but your readers will be from different demographic and income groups who don’t share a unique area of interest. Now if we extrapolate this a little bit, what comes out is the more areas you cover as a writer, the more target audience problems you face. Writing for the masses can never help you build an authority. Point blank.

Select a particular niche and stick to it. This will give you exposure to homogeneous audiences and the authority buildup process will speed up.

Link to previous articles

Consistency is not restricted to selecting a niche, it’s more than that. As mentioned above, it encompasses every aspect of content marketing. One powerful way of building authority is citing previous references. An example can elucidate this better:

Let’s say you write on Linux. You did a review of Ubuntu 12.04, in which the desktop environment is minimalistic. Then after the release of 14.04, you write a comprehensive review on it. You highlight and appreciate the Gnome changes (Even though not too many) in the latest version. As you compare the two versions, you reference the previous article and then describe how the Gnome interface of the current version is an upgrade of the earlier version.

This is a good example of consistency. The more you link your present contents with past contents, the more consistent you appear. Consistent content is the key to building an audience.

It is good for SEO too. If both articles in the above example are featured on the same site, then you are not linking out. Google loves interlinking. If two articles are published on two different sites, Google will still value them as the author is the same.

Social following

By social media, most content marketers understand only the popular channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

There are countless other channels and bookmarking sites, and they can yield outstanding results for audience building. Content marketers should chalk out customized strategies for each single network, keeping user-engagement on the focal point.

Here’s a channel-by-channel analysis and guidelines for them:

  • Pinterest: It’s the hub for visual content along with Instagram. To build an audience on Pinterest, you need to share more and more images, infographics, banners and illustrations.See below an infographic on how Pinterest bolsters engagement:

Infographics-on-Pinterest
Source

Visual content drives more engagement than non-visual content. Pinterest allows you to harness the power of visual content and build an audience-base.

  • StumbleUpon: It’s a cross between social media and bookmarking sites. You can open a token account on StumbleUpon and share the links of your blog posts just for the sake of sharing. Rest assured, this approach won’t create a follower-base for you.What you need to do instead is engage with other users. Share and comment on stumbles by others. Follow the best practices to increase traffic from this network. With time, you’ll be able to build an audience.
  • Reddit: Similar to StumbleUpon, Reddit is used for bookmarking and has a thriving community. Reddit leans towards controversies and that’s why it’s easier to create engagement there.The popular subreddits are on gender issues, environmental policies, international politics, media personalities, etc. If you write on any of these areas, then you have good chances of building an audience.

    Have a comprehensive plan on how you are going to build an audience on Reddit. To bookmark something, you don’t even have to log in. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t log in. Audience building is all about credibility and appearing as a real human being, not a username.

All the social channels listed above can aid in building audiences if you know how to harness them. Most marketers use these channels to drive traffic to their sites; very few use them for audience building.

Write eBooks

Among the practices that are at the core of content marketing, one is writing eBooks. EBooks are critical to developing content strategy for delivering actionable information and new ideas.

Below is a detailed description of the benefits of eBooks:

#Information focused: EBooks contain valuable information. Every eBook is unique because the author shares information with readers that they don’t already have. This way, the readers identify the author as the source of credible information.

#Free download: EBooks can be downloaded for free. If the book is in PDF format, then downloading it is super easy. People hesitate to download when it is paid. This indicates eBooks can generate huge downloads given the author can reach out to a large number of people.

#Linking best practice: EBooks enable an author to publicize other contents written by him. He can put links that take readers to those contents (Articles/blogs/feature stories/white papers/case studies/other eBooks). If the link is relevant and supplements the information readers are getting, then they’ll click on them. This way, you’ll get exposure.

#How-to guide: Online “How-to” guides are too long considering the average size of an article (1000-1500 words). But eBooks are shorter than standard books and longer than web content. Readers are more receptive to “How-to” guides in the form of eBooks.

Even though eBooks are a remarkable leverage for thought leadership, writing one is not easy. Here are some guidelines on how to write eBooks.

Newsletters and email content

For success in email marketing and newsletter subscription, content marketing is useful. Vapid or ambiguous headlines could be a reason behind low email open rate. As for email response rate, it could be low for several reasons, one of which is unimpressive content in the body.

You might wonder what newsletters and email have to do with building audience. Well, how would you invite people to read your posts? How would you inform them that new posts are live on the site? Either by shooting them mails or by sending them newsletters, right?

I know most content marketers will agree with me on this, that newsletters and email help them stay connected with their audiences. But they fail to see that as a crucial aspect of content marketing. In other words, they see the part, not the whole. The importance of email content is not restricted to email marketing alone, it’s important for overall content marketing.

The same thing applies to newsletters. Properly drafted newsletters with a convincing tone can impress audiences, and assist in audience building.

It’s good that businesses have started to understand that email marketing is actually a part of their content marketing strategy. See the infographic below:

Infographics-on-Email-Marketing-Strategy

Source

The survey dates back to 2014, meaning the linkage between email marketing and content marketing is way more prominent and pervasive now.

If the content of an email or a newsletter is authoritative, formal, the length is too short or too long, then audiences won’t feel like replying to it, and the interaction will be halted. The interaction between the author and the readers is necessary for building an audience.

Interactive media

Strictly visual contents such as images, screenshots, infographics, the right font for designing are all important in content marketing, but not as much as interactive content involving media elements. Such content is in audio-visual format. The examples include:

  • Vlogs
  • Explainer videos
  • Webinar
  • Games

Webinar is for B2B audiences, games are for the B2C segment. The rest are neutral; vlogs and explainer videos can be used to connect with all types of audiences. How does content involving interactive media facilitate audience building?

People love interactive content more than visual content because such content informs as well as entertains. They can communicate with the content creator real time, suggest changes and even see those changes implemented. In short, interactive media content allows audiences to participate in the content building process.

The best part about content with interactive media is audience building and audience interaction are not separate, the two are actually connected. If content marketers are not leveraging latest technologies such as 3D, animation and videography, then they are a step behind their competitors in the audience building game.

Conclusion

Building an audience takes time, but once it is built, the content marketer won’t have to look behind. The ball will be in his court, and how well he plays it (How well he creates high-quality content) will decide whether he’d be able to hold onto his audiences.

Adam Frankel is President and CEO of Frankel Interactive, a leading South Florida digital agency specializing in custom websites development, eCommerce development and digital marketing. For over 15 years he's been working with businesses and government agencies to bring their organizations online. His goal is to help them implement strategies to successfully compete in an ever crowding digital marketplace. When he isn't touting the benefits of web-based marketing, he enjoys fishing and spending time on the waters surrounding Miami with family and friends.

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