10 topics to build a thought-leadership brand

10 topics to build a thought-leadership brand

Whether you’re just getting started with a thought-leadership platform or need some new ideas, these 10 topics are designed to get your creative juices flowing!

Contribute to a conversation

What’s being talked about in your industry or thought-leadership space right now? Comment on it in a blog article. Start by quoting from (and linking to) two or three of the popular viewpoints, then add your own. This is ideal when you have a perspective that can deepen the conversation with a new angle or previously unconsidered information.

Pro Tip: Set up Google Alerts to proactively gather current content on particular topics (by keyword/keyphrase)

Tell small stories

Your daily activities, the people you interact with, the conversations you have—they’re all unique to you and part of what makes you a leader. Tell a story about one of these things every day or once a week.

Pro Tip: Great thought-leadership content is relevant. Tell stories that help you illustrate one of the pillars of your leadership values, beliefs, or intent. Always “bring it home” by telling the listener/reader how the story relates to the bigger picture. And, keep it personal—it will increase engagement.

Share exclusive information

What information and data to you regularly access and analyze as part of your profession that would be of interest to your target audience? This content could take the form of a regularly published guide, trends report, industry dashboard or thermometer, survey results, or expert predictions.

Pro Tip: if the information you’re privy to is too sensitive or valuable to share publicly, instead use it to make predictions or suggestions that show thought leadership without revealing proprietary information.

Publish a list

Lists are always popular online content. Think about a list you could create that’s relevant to your topic area(s). For example: a “summer reading” list; your top-5 favourite blogs or YouTube channels; your 10 favourite things; 8 people of influence you’re following and why; etc.

Interview others

This is especially effective if you have a podcast vehicle for thought leadership. Surround yourself with other thought leaders and experts and publish interviews with them. Prepare high-yield interviews or, if you’re skilled at great conversation, just get comfortable and press “record”.

Pro Tip: Your voice and expertise will shine through the engagement with your guest. So, prepare a great interview with research, then focus on ideas and the big picture. Over-scripted interviews are stilted and don’t allow for interesting tangents and unexpected conversation, which is where the best content often lives.

Educate

Think about the things your customers, stakeholders, or industry is most concerned about, or has the most questions about. Help fill those gaps and answer those questions. This could take the form of “how-tos”, “demystification” content, “did you knows”, “pro tips”, and the like.

Pro Tip: Harvest your organization for these topics. What questions does your customer-facing organization hear most? What are the biggest misconceptions your sales team needs to overcome? Address those themes in your educational content.

Ask questions

Drive a discussion by asking thought-provoking questions—and then respond to the answers. Rather than responding to each one you can let the answers roll in for a few days and watch the trends that emerge, or ideas that arise in the responses. Then create content about that. This could become a regular feature of your thought-leadership content, for example: Question Thursday or Question-of-the-Month.

Pro Tip: Questions should invite open answers (not just a yes or no), but not so open that they are easily misinterpreted or the cause of dramatic tangential discussion threads (although that can sometimes be powerful, too). Test your question idea on a small group of colleagues and advisors and tweak it to be as clear as possible in its intent.

Propose a solution

Is there a controversy or problem that’s arisen in your industry or professional community? Join the conversation by proposing one or more possible solutions. This is another way to drive discussion.

Pro Tip: Consider whether you want to try to impose a solution, advocate for a solution, or propose a solution to kick-start discussion. Your intent will determine the tone and approach you take in creating the content.

Comment on current events

If you stay current on events and trends that are highly relevant to your target audience, bring them to that audience’s attention and comment on them. You can give your opinion on the news, explain the implications it has for your audience/industry, or make connections between seemingly unrelated news and events.

Pro Tip:Content curation” is a popular content-generation method but it’s not good enough for a thought leader. You need to take one step further by collecting/summarizing the news then using your expert voice to explain relevance and big-picture meaning.

Listen and respond

In the course of your day-to-day work life, listen for topics that keep popping up. Reflect on this daily and weekly (e.g. in a leadership journal). Soon, you’ll be aware the things that are on people’s minds that are timely but may not be “big news”. Address these in your own commentary: “I’ve been hearing this a lot lately, and it’s got me thinking about …”.

I can support you in developing your leadership voice and/or honing your writing, take a moment to learn about the Essential Voice coaching services.