Content Marketing, Thought Leadership, and the Heart of Personal Branding

“What are you doing now?However, the subtext is more like, “What do you plan to do now that you’re halfway through your career?”

Much of the discussion was about building environments for personal branding, extensive consulting services, and what I would consider a “thought leadership” piece.

Within my consulting practice, I establish thought leadership positions for many of my clients by creating content that provides education on the product or service, creates a defined support structure, and promotes a passive emphasis on messaging. marketing. Additionally, I focus on the basic components of the proverbial Venn diagram of thought leadership.

An equally important consideration is your channel selection when distributing content.

The educator

To establish thought leadership for a personal or corporate brand, it is essential to create an identity as the ultimate expert in your category. The only way to become the de facto expert is to regularly educate the public about your vertical and the industry as a whole, and foresee the future of your category.

The best way to do this is through content marketing – videos, stories, articles, photos and streaming; then distributing them generously through channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Remember that it is not enough to create content and bury it in one place. Once you’ve built its epicenter, you need to branch out and distribute it.

The company you keep

I’m not just writing these articles to “sell the farm” of my own set of services. I also do this in an effort to dispel misconceptions about what can be tactically good and bad. That said, there are many things in the industry that we could knowingly do, even if we don’t advocate them as best practice. An example is the hijacking of the brands of influencers and companies around us in order to propel our own credibility.

Okay, Justice, you lost me.

So let’s break it down.

Imagine I went to a conference and took a photo with Guy Kawasaki, then generously distributed it on my social graph and backed that imagery up with content that involved my credibility. In this case, I can hijack some brand equity from Guy (see, we’re on a first name basis). Create this ten times multiplier every time I go to a conference, give a speech, or even give a thumbs up in a photo at a high-profile event, and it adds a notch in the bedpost – for so to say.

Here are some other easy ways to do it at an event:

  • Progressive recording

  • Like/follow leaders and speakers, then of course link to them in your posts

  • Ditch the “pulled quotes” – especially if done live, you get extra credibility

  • Engage in live chats or meetups on Tweeter

  • Pictures, pictures, video, pictures

  • Some people like @ProfessorJosh take their social prowess a step further by building illustrations from a real-time event

  • Some overachievers even build their own hosted video segments

From the mouths of babies

My last point is perhaps the most essential. I believe that when building a thought leadership/self-branding position, you need to have a genuine opinion on the topics you intend to own. Just like how I opened the second part of this article by “exposing” what might be perceived as gray tactics. It also establishes my position as an influencer, as my content is not just made up of repackaged thoughts that can be found on any social media site.

The best part of this equation is that you don’t have to be right. Building an opinion is just that: your opinion. How you fortify that opinion is entirely up to you. Some people like to do one of the following things:

  • Add additional graphs and metrics to support your conclusions. Sheep like numbers and never try to seek the credibility of your findings.

  • Reference additional white papers, newsletters and presentations online

  • Citing related posts, authors and forums

  • Use history to prove that repetition can be found in a particular directive

  • Build visuals to prove or disprove the particular position

  • “Reverse” a topical conclusion, then support or refute

“Do you have any enemies? Good. It means that you stood up for something, at some point in your life. ~Winston Churchill

I find it incredibly interesting when a client tells me that they lack engagement within their social media channels. Reading their content, I can see that their risk aversion is so low, and their content so safe and sweet, that there’s really no reason to have a discussion about it.

I’m certainly not saying you have to be argumentative, combative, or abrasive – just that you have to give your audience something to bite into so they can engage. Do that, and then do yourself a big favor by trying to anticipate any witty retorts that might come your way. Because make no mistake, they will come to you.