Thought leadership content creation tips

Thought leadership content creation tips

Tips for creating content that establishes you as a thought leader in an industry or niche.

Have a “gem”

If readers can find the information you share in your content elsewhere on the web, what you’re creating isn’t thought leadership – it’s already been done, it’s already been said, you’re not “leading” anyone or anything. To be a leader, you have to be first and be different and to do that in writing; you need to include a niche piece of knowledge that can’t be found in general content elsewhere, something that makes the reader see unique value in your content because of your unique perspective and insight in an industry or about a topic.

How do you do this?

Tell your story

  • Include anecdotes from your unique personal experience that illustrate your point,
  • Share results or outcomes from you practicing the approach you are discussing,
  • Share thought processes and knowledge sources you combined to make a decision,
  • Observations, conversations/quotes
  • Comment on your journey, critical points
  • Unique, internal stats and figures with derived meaning
  • Tap into storytelling and share challenges that you overcome (including negativity, failure, embarrassment, etc. will further help lend humility and credibility and resolve the narrative in a positive, framing you as the victor/champion/hero)
  • Include insights and lessons from notable peers you have interacted with; this can also allow you to benefit from the halo effect and earn notability by association

Build a framework

  • Build frameworks that act as a guide for your audience to apply your process to their situations; this can be as easy as telling your story and then breaking your steps out into a numbered list.
  • Create relevant analogies to help readers grasp concepts and demonstrate a deep understanding of the topic
  • Create a helpful mnemonic (a word using the first letter of words that helps you remember something important e.g. ROY G BIV is a mnemonic to help remember the order of colours in a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)
  • Provide a tool like a checklist, formula, calculator, worksheet, or mad-lib (don’t over-think it, this can be text-based and basic, and if it takes off, follow up with dedicated tool content)
  • Break down a complex relevant concept into simpler terms geared for your industry/audience, in their language
  • Draw cross-discipline connections where you have expertise or understanding in both disciplines (What is the psychological Dunning–Kruger effect, and how does it present in the finance industry; Why, as insurance leaders, watching cryptocurrencies (it’s because of blockchain technology, not Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs…mostly.))

Take a side

  • Have an opinion and back it up; this in the industry is good because / this is bad because…
  • Pose a value argument/alignment; if you value this do this; but if you value this do this…
  • Make a prediction; based on what I’m seeing in the industry, I predict next year we’ll see / in ten years we’ll see
  • Take the opposite side of an argument already getting media traction, cite/call out the original source and rebuke it (don’t be afraid to have competing ideas within the organization – you could have two executives that have different takes explain their perspective and then how they’re working together or compromising or why you’re choosing to gamble in one way or another)
  • Lead by example; make a statement on what the industry should do and how you’re leading by example and why
  • Critique industry (or industry adjacent) leaders, elements, processes, influences, regulatory bodies
  • Relevant political or regulatory body topic explainer / why people should care / how it impacts the industry / your position on the topic (could be on a specific bill/law, politician, enforcement, etc. – but be careful and ensure approved up and down the company)
  • Provide reviews or analysis on tools/performance / experiences
  • Newsjacking / hot takes; leverage breaking news in your industry and provide expert commentary (this needs to be timely, and don’t expect this to provide long-term value – it is for a quick hit spike to stay relevant in the zeitgeist conversation) 

Next – choose a content format

  • Blog post/guest post/article (most common, most diverse)
  • Stories style video (Social media talking head video format – brevity is key)
  • Email/newsletter
  • Social media open content (newsfeed posts)
  • Social media closed content (or semi-closed content): groups, forums, communities, subscription-based
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Q&A Interviews
  • Podcast / Webinar / Video with industry peers discussing the state of the industry
  • Ebooks
  • Conference talks / TED-style talks
  • Infographics
  • Soundbite/quotes/callouts

Tip for writing thought leadership content:

We get the best content when we casually interview the thought leadership subject and get them to riff and tangent on a topic they are passionate about. The interviewer should probe the subject when they get to topics they are excited about or opinionated on and ensure that energy and enthusiasm are captured in the piece for authenticity. Ask questions like how does that make you feel, why do you think this is happening, what can be done, what does the future look like, what caused this, what should we be paying attention to, what are barriers, and similar (opinion based questions – then dig and clarify the knowledge nuggets that inform the opinion after.)

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