You've seen their posts on Instagram or TikTok—a leading fitness model or world traveler sharing tips about their success and lifestyle.
At first, it may seem like building that kind of audience for yourself is out of reach, but really, you can become a thought leader, too, with the right plan. If you're wondering how to create impactful, thought leadership content with social media for your own business or practice, then take a look at the strategy below.
Thought leadership, or someone who is a "Thought leader," means that a particular person is considered an expert in a specific field or topic.
For example, Steve Jobs—the founder of Apple—was a thought leader in technology and innovation. Shonda Rhimes—an American TV writer and producer—is a thought leader in the film and entertainment industry. How about Elon Musk—the founder of Tesla? He is considered a thought leader in the electric automotive industry.
A thought leader is someone who has a wellspring of knowledge and experience that they impart to others, which is why social media is one of the best ways to spread thought leadership content. Now more than ever, people are searching for useful information online—they're searching for careers, insights about life, to learn new hobbies, and to connect with other people. Some could argue that social media has isolated users and shortened their attention spans, but the true influence of connectivity and inclusivity has created a foundation for so many people around the world to share their stories with each other and forge meaningful relationships.
So with that in mind, where do you find yourself in the mix? Are you an influencer or leader in your chosen field looking to expand your reach? Maybe you've dabbled in social media with moderate success, but now, it's to a point where you want to grow your audience and gain more traction? The good news is that anyone can become a thought leader with the right approach, and better yet, social media thought leadership content is always in demand.
Branding is important to establish as a thought leader on social media.
For instance, if you're an aspiring chef or a successful restaurateur, then your username and profile across all social media platforms should be something relevant and similar. Not to mention, your entire profile (or profiles) should be entirely about your work with food. Take a look at Chef Gordon Ramsey's Instagram page and see what strategy he uses to market himself and his other projects.
Right away, his handle has his name in it, he has the official blue checkmark next to his name to let others know that he's legitimate, and in his highlights below, he has content centered around his various projects, TV shows, and recipes. Everything is easily accessible and categorized onto one page. And if more information about a particular project is posted elsewhere, he has a link in his profile that takes a user to a list of other links that they can easily explore.
Altogether, this is what a successful thought leadership strategy looks like—a synergistic approach that cross-references all projects and initiatives across multiple platforms. It's imperative for you to structure your online presence in a similar way that lets others know you're an authority in a certain space. Next, you then need to think about what unique approach you can take to engage with your audience.
You won't be able to forge genuine connections with others if you don't know who your audience is.
Think about it—you wouldn't create dance videos if you're a book reviewer whose audience loves to read, right? If you're a surfer who loves to travel, you're not going to be very successful if all your posts show you sitting on your couch at home—people want to see you in action doing what you love to do!
So in order for you to become a thought leader, think about the kinds of people you want to build relationships with. Consider why you want to share a certain message or philosophy or strategy and what kinds of people are going to benefit from it. The successful homemaker and designer Joanna Gaines is a wonderful example of someone who knows her audience and continues to expand it in a natural way.
With over 13 million followers on Instagram, Joanna Gaines cultivated herself as a thought leader through her work as a home renovator with her husband Chip. Through her show, Fixer Upper, she was able to build and connect with an audience who saw her as a creative home designer and decorator. So immediately, through her work and unique content, she had developed her audience, and moving forward, she expanded her social media thought leadership content into new ways that leverage the same audience. Now, through her media company, Magnolia, Joanna offers tips and tricks on home renovation, home decorating, home cooking, she has a kitchenware collection, she started her own TV network with original programming centered around family life and home improvement, she discusses the joy of gardening, and she writes books about life and her philosophy in her free time.
Once you understand who your audience is, it's much easier to create content around them. However, simply creating content for the sake of being current isn't enough to maintain and grow your following—you have to create social media thought leadership content that keeps people hooked!
Now, content creation looks different for everyone, but as a good rule of thumb, your goal as a thought leader is to create authentic, original content that's meaningful to you.
After all, people will follow you and listen to you based on your ideas, thoughts, behavior, and actions, so it's important for you to remain true to who you are. The actor and comedian Kevin Hart is a thought leader who always creates content based on who he is and what he thinks is funny. From his standup routines to the movies he produces with his company Hartbeat Productions, Hart has developed his special brand of comedy and shares that with the audience he's created. He's goofy, short, quick-witted, is never afraid to be the butt of a joke, and he's a little immature. When it comes to certain situations—that's who he is, and that's his way of being funny and likable. He doesn't try to be anything he's not. Instead, he knows his style and his timing, and he delivers that to an audience who likes him for who he is.
For your own thought leadership content, think about who you are and what makes you unique. What kind of content do you engage with the most? Are you a good writer? Are you comfortable being in front of the camera talking with others? Maybe you want to start a YouTube channel and shoot vlog videos? Whatever plan you come up with, just make sure that it remains connected to who you are as a person. In the thought leadership world, pretending to be someone or something you're not will only end negatively. Your audience is smarter than you think, and what and how you share content with them matters.
And to piggyback off of how smart your audience is, the last thing you want to do is to feed them information that's wrong or misleading.
This is true in any case, but certainly for those who are thought leaders (or trying to become one) in topics that include diet, nutrition, fitness, medical advice, holistics, beauty products, supplements, and anything else that others may seek advice on. Of course, you're free to speak from your own personal experiences—which people love to learn and connect with—but you also need to ensure that your research is truthful and reliable whenever you make certain claims and statements to the public.
Consider how a pharmaceutical company adds a disclaimer to the end of its commercial after promoting the benefits of its product. Essentially, you can do the same thing to cover yourself and to ensure that your followers can't blame you in the event that your advice or tips don't work for them—always provide confident, relevant sources to back up your words.
With all your ducks in a row, you're now able to focus on the different types of thought leadership content you can develop on social media.
According to research from Sprout Social, there are three types of social media content that have the biggest impact on social growth:
Statistics show that 54% of all marketers agree that video is the most powerful form of social content. For your own thought leadership strategy, consider shooting high-quality videos or mobile videos that highlight your day or how you use certain tips and information in your everyday life. Hosting live videos is another way to instantly engage with an audience and give them firsthand insights into your life, ideas, work ethic, beliefs, anything! And with short-form videos comes the ability to post Stories on a variety of social platforms. Instagram is currently the leading network to share stories on, but thought leaders can also take advantage of stories on Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and LinkedIn.
Right behind videos are photos, which are the most commonly shared form of social content. This is because everyone has the ability to take great images with their phone. They can be easily shared across a range of platforms all at once, and photos are a great way to encourage user-generated content among a wide audience. Thought leaders can invite their followers to share their own images with a unique hashtag, making them feel like a part of their journey.
Using words is one of the best ways to develop a branding tone and voice—thought leaders can use words to come up with their own values and share that message with followers. In fact, research shows that 43% of online consumers prefer to do business with brands that have a strong command of their language and messaging. Thought leaders can write blogs, conduct polls, get active on Twitter, start discussions on Reddit, or design helpful infographics that have a mix of photos and text for users to learn from—any way to engage with others through the written word can be a powerful move to build trust and authority on a given subject.
With all of this information to think about, it may seem like a lot of work to become a thought leader online, but that's why Fiverr is here to help shoulder the load.
You can research and hire a team of social media freelancers who can help you develop a robust social media strategy, as well as help you produce content on a routine schedule. From video creators to content writers to photographers with superb editing skills, you can leverage the Fiverr network to make your job easier—giving you more time to focus on enhancing your reach and making an impact with the most people possible.