As a leader, your biggest responsibility is to the people in your organization. As you serve your team, you may wonder about the possibility of sharing your expertise more widely with larger audiences to create greater reach for your ideas and a lasting contribution. You could write a book to capture your knowledge. Or, if you’d like to start on a simpler, but also influential path, you could become a thought leader by sharing your ideas online.
When you purposefully choose to share content in online spaces to advance ideas around important topics, you become a thought leader. A thought leader, according to Peter Winick, is someone who has both thoughts and leadership, a point of view to share. Your act of sharing content is an act of leadership.
If the thought of creating content to grow thought leadership online is overwhelming, consider that you likely have a wealth of content to reshape and repurpose.
Leaders of organizations of any size regularly communicate vision and values to their teams and may also share their subject matter expertise or business acumen with internal and external audiences in a variety of ways: in email messages, internal documents, one-on-one interactions, internal team meetings, meetings with customers, in training materials or through presentations at industry events. It’s also possible your company already creates content on your team’s core areas of expertise through a blog, podcast or video series.
Here are five steps to follow to make the most of the content you already have (but may not recognize.)
1. Identify the content you want to share
On which topics are you best positioned to share? Do you want to share about your company’s vision, values and approaches to establish thought leadership around organizational culture, leadership, team building or collaboration? Or do you want to share content on the topics related to your organization’s subject matter expertise?
Throughout my journey, I’ve shared content online directly tied to my company’s areas of expertise in digital marketing and book marketing. I’ve also shared my journey as an entrepreneur and my ideas about leading a remote team and shaping our culture through shared values.
Identify and clarify your key topics, themes and areas of expertise, whether related to the way you work or the work you do.
2. Figure out what content you already have and create a content catalog
A content catalog is a listing of all your existing content assets, organized to identify the theme of each one, its location or link and its format. I recommend using a spreadsheet to capture these assets. (I like Google Drive for its ease in sharing and updating in real time.)
- Do you have slide decks from speeches or presentations?
- Have you written articles or blog posts?
- Have you published any articles?
- Have you written any FAQs about your areas of expertise?
- Have you sent any email answers to commonly asked questions?
- Have you delivered any webinars?
- Have you written any newsletters?
- Have you created any videos?
3. Create a content calendar
Once you complete your content catalog, organize it according to the key themes and topics you outlined previously. This will help to identify any gaps with your existing content and give you creative ideas about places you can create new content, when time allows.
Create a yearly content calendar to guide your thought leadership content creation. Include your key themes in the calendar so it can drive your content focus. Your audiences will not likely pick up on the themes, but the themes will provide structure, giving you or your marketing team a roadmap for supporting your content sharing.
Where new content is needed, think about the everyday activities during your work when you are speaking or writing to others about your core areas of expertise. Be present in your day and think about the stories you tell again and again. What are the questions you always get asked? What are the frameworks you share? Are there any unique differentiators that cause people to come to you instead of someone else? Those are the clues to the content you should be creating.
If you find yourself answering the same questions over and over, record your answers and get a transcription. (Otter.ai automatically transcribes Zoom calls, and you can easily cut, paste and edit content from transcripts to use in other ways.)
4. Flex to repurpose your content
Remember that content is flexible. Consider the various ways your audience may consume your content. If you have content in a written format, like a blog post, consider taking three minutes to talk about that content on a video to be shared to YouTube or on Instagram as a reel. If your audience prefers audio content, investigate turning your written content into a podcast series or audiogram.
Any longer content can be made into shorter forms for sharing on social media, and any shorter form content can be bundled to create a longer form content asset.
5. Bundle it up!
As you continue to develop content, move toward creating content bundles on your core topics and themes. For example, take a question you get asked all the time, and then create a variety of different content types that can reach people in different ways over time. You don’t need to create these various content assets at once, and you would not share them all at once. But, they will give you a content pipeline for the future.
As you create content to share with external audiences, people in your organization will benefit in two ways. First, your team will benefit by learning from the content you’re creating. Additionally, as you grow your thought leadership, you’ll expand awareness of your organization and its expertise, increasing your company’s success.
Becky Robinson is the founder and CEO of Weaving Influence, a full-service marketing agency that specializes in digital and integrated marketing services and public relations for authors, business leaders, coaches, trainers, speakers, and thought leaders. Becky’s first book, Reach: Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause (Berrett-Koehler Publishers), shares how to create the biggest possible audience for an idea, book, business, or cause.
Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.