iFocus Marketing’s Perspective on the Buzzword “Thought Leadership” Levels the Playing Field for Businesses
At this point, it’s almost a cliche: it’s nearly impossible to read anything about digital marketing without running into the same ideas and suggestions for your social media marketing campaign.
When you look at your own social media feeds, you see so much of the same: post after post, and ad after ad. It seems like everyone’s promoting something with nearly identical approaches.
So, if everyone’s playing the social media game, is there any reason to dive in? The answer is a yes – but if you want our honest opinion, so much depends on how willing you are to stand out among your competitors.
In spite of a crowded field, there are, in fact, more opportunities than ever to activate successful marketing campaigns on social media; however, the primary driver will be your willingness to position your business as a thought leader in your industry.
What Is Thought Leadership, Really?
Before you cringe at this trendy-feeling buzzword, let us explain this concept the iFocus way: thought leadership isn’t just for guys in dark turtlenecks at TED Talk conferences.
Your business – no matter if you’re an exceptionally niche service or a mom-and-pop local company – can enter a social media conversation that is sure to stop your target audience’s thumbs from their habitual scroll.
A thought leadership campaign may sound daunting and out of your wheelhouse, but it’s actually easy to explain. The best definitions of thought leadership and thought leadership campaigns are the ones we’ve developed ourselves, based on our experience with providing successful social media marketing services for our clients.
Our definition of thought leadership is simple; it’s your unique perspective on your industry. Therefore, a thought leadership campaign can be practical. It’s the use of social media marketing services to share your unique perspective with target audiences to increase engagement and lead your customers to take key actions, including conversions.
That’s it. That’s all it takes. Thought leadership isn’t just something that Silicon Valley likes to throw around to sound smarter-than-thou. When you look at the heart of this concept, it becomes accessible – and valuable – for every industry and business – and that’s how we like it.
But Why Should I Share My Thoughts? Aren’t I Supposed to Be Promoting My Services?
This is an excellent question. Traditionally, the overall goal of marketing is to promote your services to make conversions. The most common tactics are to explain why you’re different, how you can benefit the consumer, and how to find you. But if everyone’s doing this, there’s not a particularly great advantage anymore. It all blurs together.
But when you consider that 60 percent of social media users found thought leadership posts “more trustworthy” than more common marketing strategies, and that, according to LinkedIn, a customer or client views at least ten pieces of content before converting, you’ll find that there’s plenty of marketing that needs to be done. But it can’t only rely on typical social media marketing strategies.
Why do consumers need to see so much content? It’s because they’re looking for credibility. The ability to communicate your authority, expertise, and trustworthiness as a business is a tool that many of your competitors have not leveraged properly. They tend to think that brand awareness is about being everywhere. But, in reality, it’s about drawing attention to what you have to say.
Consider iFocus Marketing’s insights into what consumers are looking for when it comes to your credibility.
If you’re in a business to consumer (B2C) industry, your customers are looking for the following characteristics that communicate your credibility:
- You offer a personalized, human connection.
- You care about what you sell.
- There’s a unique story behind what you sell.
- There’s readily available proof that you provide the high-quality service they want.
- You’re up on the latest in your business, and that translates to a better product or service.
If you’re in a business to business (B2B) industry, the reality is much the same. Your partners are looking for the following:
- You’re an informed, engaged member of your industry.
- You’re an expert at a special set of skills they need access to.
- It’s clear you add value when you’re selected as a partner.
- You make it easy for this partner to tell their stakeholders why they chose you.
As an added bonus, a thought leadership campaign on social media can target audiences beyond your customers, clients, and direct partnerships. When you share your thoughts and perspectives on your industry, you can also increase your credibility among these audiences:
- Talent in your industry – a thought leadership campaign can become a key recruiting tool to build your team.
- Other industry leaders – you can become a reputable name among your peers for your special skill set, and gain their respect and recommendations.
- Interested clients outside your region – a successful campaign can get you recognized outside of your current service area to expand your business.
How to Brainstorm a Thought Leadership Campaign
Take some time to think about the following questions below. They’ll help you unlock your perspective on issues that are relevant to your industry.
- Have you read an interesting or powerful article that relates to your industry?
- What did you think about it? Did you agree or disagree? Did you think it was worth sharing with a larger audience? If so, you can provide thought leadership on that topic.
- Do you have any powerful stories about how you helped a customer or client? Have you ever given back to your community through donations of proceeds or volunteer work? Do you support any charities? Your customers want to know this information.
- Are there pros and cons to debate in some aspect of your industry? Is there an argument to be had? Which side are you on – or do you see it both ways? You can provide thought leadership here by sharing your ideas.
- In your industry, is there a technique, service, strategy, or approach that differentiates you from your competitors? What key points would you want to make, if you had your chance to share with someone who’d be interested? This is what thought leadership is all about.
- Are there products used in your business that you think are superior to others? Do they make a difference for you? Are you willing to share this? There’s a thought leadership story here, too.
- Are there questions about your industry that you think customers like to weigh in on or have an opinion about? You can engage your audience on social media with these questions, as thought leadership is also about prompting potential customers to join your conversation.
Still stuck? In order to answer some of these questions above, here are some additional prompts that will help you develop thought leadership ideas:
- Read magazines or online articles about your industry to get a sense of what you agree or disagree with.
- Take a look at what your competitors are posting on social media. Do you have a different take on the same services or products? How is yours more meaningful or accurate?
- Attend a conference in your industry as a spectator – see what’s being discussed. Think about what you would say if you were asked to speak. If opportunity exists, find out how to get involved as a panelist or speaker in the future.
- Ask the people around you: “What am I always praising or concerned about in our industry?”
- Think about a time where you had a business problem that you solved effectively. What was the solution?
- Read your customer reviews and feedback. Do these jog any memories of particularly outstanding, above-and-beyond work you’ve done?
Case Study on How Social Media Marketing Services Increased Engagement and Generated Leads Through Thought Leadership
To demonstrate how a thought leadership campaign using organic social media posts can benefit your business, consider this case study of one of our clients in the custom HVAC industry.
Overview: Our client has a storied history in HVAC manufacturing with decades of experience engineering and building solutions for small and large commercial business, including partnerships with some exceptionally high-profile clients.
The Ask: Because our client is particularly niche, they desired a large social media presence along with additional digital marketing solutions from our agency to make potential clients aware of their value and expertise, and to generate leads and conversions.
The Tactics: The client was able to offer our team key thought leadership resources about the history of their company, publications from their industry, their own newsletter, as well as particular projects that speak to their work as a whole. This provided our social media marketing services team with ample material to write, schedule, post, and analyze a full organic thought leadership campaign on LinkedIn in conjunction with other marketing solutions including paid social ads.
The Results: From August of 2021 to August of 2022, our team published 233 organic media-rich LinkedIn posts that included links to our client’s website along with images or infographics.
In this one-year period, our client experienced astounding growth:
- Organic followers on their LinkedIn page grew by 185.7 percent.
- Engagements with our agency-created content on LinkedIn increased by 204 percent.
- Post clicks leading to more information about our client rose by 259.9 percent.
- Across this year-long period, for every impression made on a user (38,670) 6.8 percent of users engaged with the content. >See for yourself – that’s objectively high.
Our client’s determination to grow their business through a brand awareness campaign with our expertise in developing, optimizing, and analyzing social media content has led to their continued success as they put themselves in front of target audiences that are making important deliberations before converting. Recognizing the importance and success of this strategy, our client has continued these services into 2023, as well as paid social ads, and more.
iFocus Marketing’s Social Media Marketing Services Can Guide Your Thought Leadership Campaign
If you’re feeling less overwhelmed about how to approach a thought leadership campaign, and you’re more convinced than ever about its benefits, you may still be wondering how you can implement this initiative effectively.
Fortunately, iFocus Marketing’s digital marketing agency specializes in social media marketing services including thought leadership, management, brand awareness, and social media ads. Much like we’ve done for our client in the custom HVAC business, we ensure that your paid social ads and organic posts on social media platforms are getting the engagement and clicks to generate leads and, ultimately, conversions for your business.
We can enhance, optimize, and strategically position your social media campaign by:
- Brainstorming and strategy sessions to produce compelling thought leadership content
- Creating monthly content for your thought leadership campaign
- Optimizing your content for maximum engagement on social media platforms
- Managing, scheduling, and posting your thought leadership content along with compelling images, links, and effective tags and hashtags
- Repurposing your thought leadership content for paid social ads, SEO-driven blogs for your website, and more.
- Rigorous, analytics-driven reporting on the performance of your campaign.
- Providing research-informed recommendations for integrating social media marketing services into a larger digital marketing strategy.
Schedule a Free Discovery Call with iFocus Marketing Today
As an omnichannel digital marketing agency, we want to ensure that all of your bases are covered, so that no matter where your target audience is looking, they can find you first.
To activate a digital marketing campaign with iFocus Marketing, you can start by scheduling a completely free discovery call, followed by a free audit of your digital presence, as well as a competitive analysis and recommendations for services we can provide to benefit your business immediately.
Peter Mishler, senior digital copywriter at iFocus Marketing, is dedicated to using language to help clients find their audiences. He is the author of two books: a Kathryn A. Morton Prize-winning collection of poetry, from Sarabande Books (2018) and a book of reflections for public school teachers from Andrews McMeel Publishing (2021). His poetry has appeared in many national publications, including The Paris Review, and he is a contributing editor for Literary Hub. New to marketing, Peter taught English for 15 years.