Council Post: Three Thought Leadership Mistakes To Avoid

By Blair Williams, the founder of MemberPress, an all-in-one membership website software for WordPress.

Thought leadership can be a way to create personal and professional growth for yourself and others. Done correctly, it can help you stand out in your industry and build your personal brand. And now becoming a thought leader is easier than ever before because we have social networks and the ability to create our own websites. These platforms help us share content and engage with people to make an impact.  

However, there are a few mistakes you might make that hold you back from reaching more people effectively. Being aware of what you can improve will help you grow your audience and position you as a person to follow. Let’s take a look at actions to avoid so that your thought leadership efforts lead to gaining more recognition in your industry. 

Writing For The General Audience

The most impactful and meaningful content arises from offering specific and actionable advice. And to do this, it’s best to build your thought leadership content around a niche approach to a problem or by focusing on a segment in your industry.

One benefit of writing for a niche topic is that it will help you stand out from competing writers. And it also enables you to build a community around your writing when you have clearly defined values and address a specific problem with your work. 

A few people who stand out as thought leaders in their specific niche are Nat Eliason and Shu Omi, among a few others. They teach people how to use a note-taking and productivity tool called Roam Research through paid and free material.

You have to make a lot of high-quality content to stand out in any field, but the more specific your focus is, the more likely you are to get found. 

Not Publishing Regularly

The key to building your following is to publish content on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean that you have to create a post every day. The Ahrefs brand, a leader in SEO platforms, publishes blog posts just once a month. But they still get significant traffic and influence how people build content. What’s important is to determine how often you’ll post content on your blog and social media and then stick to this commitment. And also to use best practices for each platform. While creating a weekly email newsletter or a monthly blog post works just fine, it probably won’t serve you on social media. 

Social media is best used when you create posts every day or even multiple times a day. And that is exactly as exhausting as it sounds. This is why it’s a good idea to use a social media management tool that lets you plan and schedule your content in advance.

Not Marketing Yourself

Even if building yourself as a thought leader is not your main occupation right now, you still need to undertake good marketing strategies to steadily grow your audience. 

Here are a few ways you can market yourself:

• Build an email list from the very beginning. Create opt-in forms, add “calls to action” in your content, and keep driving people to sign up for your newsletter. In this way, you can stay in touch with your audience over time.

• Use the right format for each platform type. Long-form posts are best for your blog but not for social media. Let’s take the example of LinkedIn. Did you know that there’s a powerful formula for getting engagement on LinkedIn? Creating an emotional opening and writing short sentences gives you the best chance of engaging more people.

• Create guest posts for different publications and collaborate with other blogs and thought leaders. 

• Develop a branding kit using AI-powered brand identity generators. Come up with a color palette, fonts, a name logo and other elements. Build your website and add these colors and brand elements to social media.

These marketing efforts will help you create a consistent personal brand image online. And as you continue to create helpful content and share insights, you’ll steadily become more recognized as a thought leader. 

Over To You

Thought leadership, by definition, is all about sharing insights that are unique and thought-provoking. So, along with the other points already mentioned, another major mistake you could make is to share “safe” ideas that won’t create any ripples. 

You need to offer a unique and interesting perspective on the topic of your choice. Or share a different point of view on important news trending in your niche to get people’s attention and to create value. As you start your outreach online, make sure you respond to people’s comments and engage with other people’s posts, too. 

In time, and with some trial and error, you’ll gain clarity on what to write about and the kind of audience you want to build. With regularly shared content, you’ll build your thought leadership and influence how your personal brand appears online.

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