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Thought Leadership Content Full Guide: What is it & How to Benefit

Master thought leadership content with our step-by-step guide. We share benefits, ideas and all you need to create impactful thought leadership materials.
Ortal Hadad
Content Specialist & Blog Editor
Published:
October 11, 2023
Last Updated:
January 21, 2024
12
min
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

Marketing a brand can be challenging, especially when there are over 8.2 million businesses in America alone. So, if you’re hoping to catch people’s attention, you need to do something to make yourself stand out.

That’s where thought leadership content comes into the picture. 

In the following guide, we look at thought leadership content, its benefits, and how to get started. Here’s what you need to know about making a thought leadership content strategy.

What Is Thought Leadership Content?

Thought leadership content is insightful, innovative, and authoritative material created and shared by individuals or organizations to position themselves as industry experts and forward-thinking leaders in their field. This content goes beyond basic marketing and promotion. It offers valuable insights, analysis, and perspectives addressing industry challenges, trends, and opportunities. 

Why Should You Create Thought Leadership Content?

Thinking of creating thought leadership content as part of your business marketing strategy? There are countless reasons that this is a savvy move. If you want to position the brand at the center of conversations, weighing in on current issues is the answer. This move allows you to establish the company as an expert in your chosen field and gain consumers’ trust. 

If you’re looking for a way to set your company apart from the competition, there are plenty of types of thought leadership content you can create. Adding this type of content to your roster gives your audience more value and encourages them to follow your brand. For that reason, it’s wise to start making a robust thought leadership content strategy now. 

Benefits of including thought leadership content in your marketing strategy

Now that you have an overview of why you should create thought leadership content, let’s take a closer look at the benefits you can expect to reap when you do so: 

1. Establishes Credibility 

Thought leadership content positions your brand as an authoritative and knowledgeable voice in your industry, building trust and credibility among your target audience.

2.  Differentiates from Competitors 

By showcasing unique insights and innovative perspectives, thought leadership sets you apart from competitors and helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace.

3. Engages Target Audience 

Thought-provoking content captivates your audience, encouraging them to interact, share, and engage with your brand, fostering a deeper connection. If you want to start building brand loyalty, you might find that this is an efficient way to do so. 

4. Supports Sales Efforts 

Searching for a way to boost your sales? Thought leadership helps your sales team by providing valuable resources that address potential customers' questions and concerns, aiding the sales process. You can provide more detail to your customers. 

Types of Thought Leadership Content

Of course, there are many different types of thought leadership content out there. You must determine which is the most appropriate for your brand before you start. Let’s take a look at some of the options that you may choose to consider here: 

Video

This option involves creating engaging videos showcasing your expertise, innovative ideas, and industry insights. Thought leadership videos can range from explainer videos to panel discussions and interviews, allowing you to visually connect with your audience and present complex concepts in an accessible manner.

Best For: Capturing attention, explaining visual concepts, conducting interviews, hosting panel discussions, and providing dynamic presentations that convey your perspective.

Podcasts

If you want to make thought leadership podcasts, you will be producing video and audio episodes where you discuss industry trends, share valuable insights, interview experts, and offer in-depth analyses. Podcasts provide a convenient format for your audience to consume content while multitasking or on the go. This medium can help you reach a mass audience as there are 464.7 million podcast listeners globally.

Best For: They are ideal for sharing in-depth discussions, interviews, storytelling, and fostering a sense of connection with your audience through spoken conversations.

Articles

Thought leadership articles are written pieces that delve into industry topics, trends, challenges, and solutions. These articles demonstrate your expertise, thought process, and ability to analyze complex subjects, making them a cornerstone of thought leadership content. You can publish these on your website, third-party sites, or social media. According to HubSpot, businesses prioritizing blogging are 13 times more likely to have a positive return on investment.

Best For: Thought leadership articles are ideal for presenting in-depth analyses, research findings, thought-provoking insights, and series that establish your authority. 

Talks

Talks, such as TED Talks, are powerful thought leadership platforms where you can deliver compelling speeches or presentations that convey visionary ideas, innovative concepts, and thought-provoking perspectives concisely and engagingly.

Best For: Talks are ideal for delivering inspiring and transformative messages, presenting visionary ideas, sharing personal experiences, and capturing a wide audience's attention through impactful storytelling.

Social Media Posts

Social media posts as thought leadership content involve sharing bite-sized insights, quick tips, and thought-provoking questions on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram. Over 50% of the world's population uses social media, making it a powerful platform when you’re trying to reach a wide audience.

Best For: Sharing quick takeaways, initiating discussions, staying current with industry trends, and engaging with a broad audience through concise and shareable content.

How to create an impactful thought leadership content strategy

Ready to start working on your thought leadership content strategy? It’s important to create a solid plan before you start working. As a general rule, you need to make sure that the content you produce is well thought-out and targets your audience well. To help you along the way, here are the steps you need to take to get started. 

Step 1: Decide on your topic

First things first, you need to decide which topic you want to cover. Choosing the right topic — or series – will put you in the best position. Focus on subject matters that offer the audience true value. In doing so, you could completely change how people view the brand. 65% of buyers say this content “significantly changed the perception of a company, for the better, due to a piece of thought leadership.” 

Think about what subjects will interest your audience, what they want to learn, and where your expertise (as a business) lie. It may be helpful to start out with a long list of ideas. Write down everything that comes to mind in the first instance. You can also look at trending topics on Google and see which aligns well with your business output.

Step 2: Pick your format 

As we have already covered, there are many different types of thought leadership content out there. Take the time to decide which medium works best for your business. There are two main things to consider here. 

First, you need to consider which format will resonate with your audience? Are they more likely to listen to podcasts or read a blog, for example? Secondly, you should consider what means and budget you have to produce content? When you look at these two areas, it should be easy to pick a content format.

Step 3: Conduct in-depth research 

You’re trying to position yourself as an expert. If your thought leadership content lacks depth, there’s no way that you will be able to do that. Before you start drafting your content, you need to conduct your own research. Ensure that you are working with the latest information, stats, and facts. Always check your sources before citing them. 

Step 4: Take a unique angle 

The internet is saturated with content. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’re going to need a unique angle. When you have decided on your content topic and done your research, you need to choose an angle that suits your brand. Make sure that the one you take aligns well with the business values. 

Step 5: Edit, edit, edit

Once you have produced your content, the next step is to edit it. When you’re working on any type of audience-facing media, you should ensure that it is perfect before publication. Go back over the thought leadership content and ensure it is clear and concise. Ask yourself whether it is answering the audience’s questions and whether there are any gaps in the information. Now is your chance to fill them in and create a stellar piece. 

Step 6: Publish and promote 

Once you have done all of the above, the final step in the process is to publish the content and then promote it. Where you decide to publish the pieces will depend on the medium. 

You may share video clips on YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok. If you have produced a podcast, you can publish it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Should you have written long-form articles, you can publish them on your website, LinkedIn, or third-party sites. You will also need a plan in place to promote your content afterward.

8 Thought Leadership Content Ideas With Effective Examples To Learn From

Looking for some thought leadership ideas? You’ve come to the right place. Many of these content pieces fall into distinct categories. Let’s take a look at eight thought leadership content examples that you can use for inspiration when planning yours.

1. Expert Leadership Roundtable Discussions

This thought leadership content involves assembling a group of knowledgeable individuals, often experts in a specific industry or field, to engage in a structured conversation on a relevant and timely topic.

Thought leadership example: The World Economic Forum's annual meeting convenes global leaders to discuss pressing global issues, demonstrating thought leadership in economics and policy.

2. Thought-Provoking Articles or Blog Posts

An effective way of utilizing this option is by writing articles that challenge conventional thinking, present new viewpoints, and offer innovative solutions to industry problems.

Thought leadership example: Neil Patel's blog regularly publishes articles that delve into digital marketing strategies and data-driven insights, pushing the boundaries of traditional marketing practices. 

3. Interactive Infographics

An infographic visualizes information that can break down complex data or make your content more engaging. To effectively utilize this option, create visually appealing infographics that present complex data, statistics, or concepts in an engaging and understandable format.

Thought leadership example: The New York Times "How the Virus Got Out" interactive infographic effectively illustrates the global spread of COVID-19 using clear visual storytelling.

4. Podcast Interviews with Industry Experts 

Since podcasts are an audio and video recording that can be listened to on-demand, one can host a podcast featuring insightful interviews with industry experts, thought leaders, and innovators to discuss trending topics and gain valuable perspectives.

Thought leadership example: The Tim Ferris Show, a leading podcaster who features in-depth conversations with world-class performers, offering unique insights and professional growth strategies. 

Did you know Tim Ferris uses Riverside for recording high-quality content? You can too! Learn more or sign up to start recording podcasts professionally.

5. Explainer Video Series 

A video is a great way to share your message in a visually appealing way. It can explain complex concepts, tell stories, or demonstrate your products or services. Therefore, developing a series of short videos that simplify complex industry concepts, address common questions, and educate your audience is vital.

Example: Moz's "Whiteboard Friday" series delivers SEO insights through visual explanations, making it easier for viewers to understand SEO techniques.

6. Deep-Dive Case Studies 

A case study is a detailed account of how you helped a specific customer achieve their goals. You can use one to demonstrate your expertise and to show potential customers how you can help them. If you want to gain your audience’s trust, this is a great tool.

Example: Airbnb's "Inside Airbnb" series provides detailed insights into its data and the impact of short-term rentals in various cities, positioning the company as a thought leader in the sharing economy.

7. Interactive Webinar 

An interactive webinar is a live or pre-recorded presentation that people worldwide can attend. You can use a webinar to share knowledge, answer questions, or build relationships with potential customers. 

To utilize this strategy, consider hosting live webinars or virtual events where you share in-depth insights, engage in Q&A sessions, and provide actionable takeaways. You can also invite audience members to join you for live calls. Riverside boasts an easy-to-use live calling feature that makes this effortless. 

Example: Salesforce's "Dreamforce" conference features webinars, keynotes, and workshops that showcase thought leadership in customer relationship management and technology.

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8. Industry Research Insights

Industry research insights involve conducting comprehensive studies, surveys, or analyses within your field to uncover valuable data, trends, and patterns. This data-driven approach allows you to provide authoritative insights that contribute to understanding your industry's landscape. People can cite and share these on social media, expanding their reach.

Thought leadership example: IBM's "C-Suite Study" is a prime illustration of leveraging industry research insights. This study surveys thousands of C-level executives to uncover trends in business strategies, technology adoption, and leadership challenges. The resulting insights are shared through reports, articles, and presentations, establishing IBM as a thought leader in business transformation. 

Looking for more insights into the world of podcasting? Expanding upon the above, Riverside recently published its own research on the future of video podcasting .

FAQs on Thought Leadership Content

What Are The Characteristics Of Thought Leadership Content?

Thought leadership content has some clear characteristics that make it unique. Let’s take a look at a quick breakdown here: 

  • Original and insightful: Thought leadership content should not just repeat everyone else's words. It should offer new perspectives and insights that your audience will find valuable.
  • Clear and concise: They should be easy to understand and follow. Your audience should be able to grasp your main points without having to wade through a lot of jargon or technical language.
  • Data-driven: They should be backed up by research and evidence. This aspect will help your audience to trust your insights and to see you as a credible source of information.
  • Relevance to Audience: They must address the specific interests, needs, and concerns of a target audience, ensuring its resonance and applicability.

What Is The Difference Between Content And Thought Leadership?

Content and thought leadership are related concepts in the realms of marketing and expertise, but they have distinct differences, as follows:

  • Content: The primary goal of content is to provide information, entertain, educate, or inform the audience on a particular topic. However, it doesn't necessarily establish the creator as a recognized authority or influencer in a specific industry or field.
  • Thought Leadership: It involves positioning oneself or an organization as an expert, innovator, and influential voice in a particular industry or field. Thought leaders are known for their original insights, visionary thinking, and ability to shape industry conversations. 
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What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

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