5 Essential Skills To Become Successful Digital Thought Leaders

5 Essential Skills To Become Successful Digital Thought Leaders

In the digital industry, thought leaders are known for sharing new ideas and driving forward with innovation.  They are seen as advocates, trailblazers and crucially, reliable sources of information to their target audiences.  So vital and persuasive are thought influencers or leaders that the term ‘influencer marketing’ is widely used in the digital marketing field.  there are thought leaders who can convert various customer segments in almost every sector.  For instance, around 86% of women rely on social media networks before making decisions about purchases, while teenagers who subscribe to YouTube channels trust the opinions of influencers rather than more traditional celebrities.

While becoming an influencer could potentially generate considerable revenue for your business, there is more involved than just tweeting that you are a thought leader.  However, by honing the essential skills below, you will have a better chance of success.

  1. Establish Your Personal Brand

The first step to being taken seriously as a reputable thought leader is building your own personal brand, whether you hire an expert or use a professional branding service.  It is vital that you define your own identity and work out how to position yourself on the various digital channels out there.  Your branding needs to convey your authority and credibility within the industry you operate.  It will also enable you to take control of how your target market communicates with you and how much trust they put in you.

personal brand
Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-wearing-black-and-white-stripe-shirt-looking-at-white-printer-papers-on-the-wall-212286/

Establish a concise brand narrative, a simple paragraph that defines exactly who you are, your own role, what you specialize in and what you are interested in.  It should also cover your USPs and strengths as a thought leader as well as your experience and skills.  This narrative can then be used in all of your profiles on social media platforms as well as author bios for interviews and blogs.

  1. Create Content That Is Bold And Relevant

Once you have established a brand identity that is focused on striking imagery and succinct descriptions; you need to work on creating and distributing content to develop your thought leadership.  It is no longer sufficient enough to just write a blog article and publish it online.  As there in excess of 2 million articles posted daily, you need to cover relevant and current topics in a different way to your competition.  This involves imparting your own personal anecdotes, humour and opinions into these blog posts.  Try to be as honest as possible about your business efforts, even your failings, make bold claims and industry predictions.  This will all help to create content that is unique and relatable.

  1. Hone Your Public Speaking Skills
Public Speaking Skills
Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-person-suit-united-states-of-america-2281/


It is much more important to use different content formats into your marketing strategy if you are looking to be a thought leader, rather than just working on great blog content.  You are not only able then to reach a wider range of people, but it shows you are willing to push innovation.  Webinars and podcasts, in particular, are two staples that are vital to most digital thought leaders. They are fairly inexpensive and quicker and actually easier to produce than written posts and are the easiest ways to establish thought leadership.  If you need help with this medium though, Ian Stephens of PrincipiaConsultants.com can help and is ‘regarded as a strong public speaker…and is also frequently invited to make keynote speeches and presentations’.

  1. Connect With Your Audience Through Video

How to Use Videos in Content Marketing and Branding? https://www.searchclap.com/blog/use-video-in-content-marketing/

One of the best ways to establish yourself as a thought leader is by creating video content in addition to your written content.  There is a reason why people use tools like the Facebook Live function and why they post videos on YouTube.  Not only is it relatively easy and cost-effective to use both of these, but their appeal is huge and it’s a great way to connect directly with your audience.

If you are new to Facebook Live, it is really simple to get started.

Step 1 – Click the ‘Live Video’ button at the top of the screen when you are on News Feed.

audience through video

Step 2 – Write a quick message/caption describing your video.  For example, if you are going to talk about one something in particular or you are merely just introducing yourself, you could describe that.

Step 3 – Next, click the Go Live button and then you can speak to the masses about whatever you want.

If you are worried about being nervous in front of the camera, it could be a good idea to write up a rough set of notes, but the best videos on Facebook Live are the ones that don’t feel too rehearsed.  So, even if you sound a bit rough around the edges, it is likely that unless you are speaking about something particularly technical that your audience will not be put off.

Remember, people will be able to comment on your video as it is streaming.  While it will be impossible to respond to them all, it is a good idea to try and interact where possible as this will build up a relationship with your audience and they will see you as a someone who is approachable.

If you already have a video and want to make use of YouTube, this is also a relatively simple platform to use.

Step 1 – Sign into your YouTube account (If you have one, if you don’t, then you will need to create one.)

Step 2 – Click the sign-in button on the homepage, found in the top right corner of the screen.  It may be that you have more than one account, if you do, click the correct one and then enter your password and you will be redirected back to the main page.

Step 3 – Click the upload button, the one that is an arrow pointing upwards with a straight line underneath it.


Step 4 – Choose the source of your video and choose the appropriate privacy settings.  Choose who you want to see your video and alter the available privacy settings appropriately.  For instance, if you want everyone and anyone to see your video choose to make it ‘Public’.  However, you may wish to have a certain degree of control over who can view your video.  If so, you can choose ‘Unlisted’ and this prevents it from coming up in search results.  Therefore, people will need a link or visit your channel to view the video.  There is also the option to keep it private, if you are not ready to put it out there.  You can then choose ‘Private’ or ‘Scheduled’, depending on what is most suitable for your needs.

Step 5 – Choose where you are uploading the video.  You have a number of options – Importing from Google Photos, Uploading from a device or opting for Live Stream instead.

Step 6 – Once you have clicked to start uploading your video, depending on how big it is or the quality, it could take a long time.  You then have time to give it a title, a description and tags that will help your target audience find it.  There is also the option to add it to a playlist if you want and more in-depth options such as Translations which enables you to make the content understandable for people all over the globe.  Advanced Settings gives you an extra degree of control too as it means you can categorize your video, decide if viewers can comment and rate it or not.

Step 7 – Choose A Thumbnail For Your Video.  Unless your account is verified, you are unable to get creative when it comes to thumbnails.  However, you will have a choice of three different screenshots from your video to use.  Once you have chose the one you think is best, click the Done button or Publish, if you are ready to finalize your video.

  1. Reach Out To Successful Industry Thought Leaders

As distributing content in the most effective way it crucial to establishing yourself as a thought leader, you can’t do this alone.  This is why it is a good idea to think about speaking to industry thought leaders that are already reputable and successful.  You can learn from these people and you can make valuable connections with them.

thought leader
Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/agreement-beard-brainstorming-business-615475/


If you don’t know who the major thought leaders are in your own industry, you can social network tools to figure out who they are.  Follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter and establish foundations to allow positive relationships to blossom with them.  Share content and tag them into your posts or quote them at relevant points in your own content.

Never Stop Networking

Following on from the above, you need to see connecting with other influencers as more than establishing them just as your mentor.  Just by association with them, you can enhance your own reputation by working on relationships with other thought leaders in your industry.  Don’t shy away from responding to one of their Tweets with your own viewpoint or becoming members of forums and LinkedIn groups.  Another simple way of making the right sort of friends is if you read an article you feel strongly about or resonate with, try to connect with the article author on social media and let them know.

About Author:


Ian is Principia’s Founder and CEO. He is a branding specialist with an extensive track record of advising major corporations including Unilever, Bank of America and Walmart and some of the world’s most prestigious international professional services firms across a range of sectors including law, accountancy and architecture.

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