Applying thought leadership marketing to your social media strategy

Do you have a strategy in your annual marketing plan related to increasing the thought leadership of your company?

We wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is yes.

In recent years, thought leadership has become an important concept in marketing. A common first step to increasing your thought leadership is to focus on content creation. Then, it’s all about distributing that content to help educate and influence your target audiences.

Chances are, you’re using a mix of tactics like your website, social media channels, paid media and earned media. But have you considered how your most valuable asset — your employees — can help build your brand’s thought leadership?

What is thought leadership?

Thought leadership has been an industry buzzword for a few years now, and it’s clear that it means different things to different people. Here’s how we define it:

Thought leadership is the act of using your experience and influence to challenge the way your target audience thinks in an effort to drive specific results.

For example, you could use your company’s experience as a heavy equipment manufacturer with a long legacy in the industry to challenge the way your target audience is currently tackling projects. Then you could use that to position a new product you’re bringing to market in an effort to drive sales.

Or you could use your experience as a veteran of the oil and energy industry to help drive your business forward. For instance, consider taking actions to improve environmental practices in an effort to influence new, improved standards of practices in the industry.

Why is thought leadership important?

Thought leadership can help you drive marketing results and sales. From a marketing standpoint, working to position your company as a thought leader can help increase awareness and engagement with your brand. If you’re recognized as a thought leader, you are more likely to be cited frequently, quoted in articles or tagged in posts on social media.

From a sales standpoint, trust in a brand is the second most important factor in purchase decisions after pricing. Being a thought leader helps to increase that trust and can position you as a reputable brand that consumers will consider for purchases.

How can employees help build thought leadership?

Employee advocacy — the act of activating your employees to promote your organization — can help build your brand’s thought leadership by demonstrating your company’s industry knowledge and employee expertise. It also can help by personalizing your organization’s communications. Employee advocacy programs can include multiple participants, such as sales teams, the leadership team, product/application specialists and other associates.

When individual employees share brand messages, reach increases an average of 561%. In turn, this helps increase awareness and engagement with your brand, which we know can help establish your company as a thought leader.

Further, your employees can help personalize your messaging, and we know that 76% of people trust messages shared by people in their network over the content shared by brands. All of this can help bolster your company’s and employees’ positions as thought leaders — and it can help drive tangible marketing and sales results.