We also must consider the current economic climate, where consumer trust is notoriously hard to earn — and far too easy to lose. Media has become the least-trusted institution. But if content represents the conduit to which brands can connect with their audience, how can companies shift past media distrust to establish their brand or offering as a trusted source?
It's within this discussion that we realize the importance of thought leadership.
What exactly is a thought leader?
Thought leaders are the recognized, trusted, go-to people in their field of expertise. They frequently produce insightful, engaging and innovative ideas, which they share with their target audience. From a public relations standpoint, company clout can largely be derived from the way in which an audience feels (and speaks) about a brand. This means that company founders and executives have a unique opportunity to leverage themselves as spokespersons of their brand, effectively cutting through the noise with insightful, big picture, educational and value-driven content. In fact, thought leadership — when done well and distributed strategically across the right platforms — is arguably the best method to build awareness by sparking meaningful conversations.
According to recent studies, consumers say authenticity is one of the top qualities that would attract them to a brand. Not only that, but there is a direct correlation between a company's authenticity and the likelihood that customers become advocates for that brand, whilst attracting more high-value customers. Statistics such as these reinforce the understanding that trust (and a company's on-going investment in establishing consumer trust) represents a tangible asset to any company, especially in the eyes of modern consumers.
Not only does thought leadership represent an integral B2C strategy, but it plays an incredibly important role in B2B relationships as well. In fact, the 2019 Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study revealed that 55% of decision makers use thought leadership as an important way to vet organizations, and 81% increased their trust in a vendor organization as a result of that content. Further, 61% of those same decision makers are more willing to pay a premium to work with an organization that has articulated a clear vision versus one that does not publish thought leadership. However, in that same breath it's also important to realize that thought leadership can have a resounding negative effect on a company's reputation, if not done correctly. According to the survey, the majority of leaders said they are disappointed by the lack of high-quality thought leadership. This presents an opportunity — emerging thought leaders, now is your time. Start writing, start sharing and engage your audience (the right way) before someone else does.
Now that we've established the importance of thought leadership, we arrive at the next consideration. Which platform(s) do we utilize to deliver this style of content? Aside from paid media, how can we infiltrate those most active, relevant channels to create waves for our brand?
While there are no shortage of useful platforms and paid publications to include in your content strategy, there is one platform which every executive should be utilizing, without exception — LinkedIn. Feeling skeptical? Consider the following:
Even more impressive, is the realization that of the 500 million total LinkedIn users, only 3 million share content on a weekly basis. Let me translate that for you — 3 million users are getting 9 billion impressions each week. I don't know about you, but within a social economy rife with changing algorithms and pay to play infrastructures, I like those odds.
The LinkedIn Pulse feature, specifically, allows emerging and established thought leaders to self-publish content to their feed amongst other news stories, blog posts and insights on the platform. Identifying somewhere between a blog and a social network for professionals, company executives can customize their LinkedIn experience to ensure it is entirely aligned with their business objectives while enhancing their connection to the (sometimes elusive) consumer ecosystem. To ensure users can curate a feed of relevant and valuable content, LinkedIn Pulse can be tailored to each individual and offers a search function in which users can search by category, popularity, and influencers.
Ultimately, sharing content on LinkedIn helps you stay top of mind with your core network, while also ensuring your content is ranks higher on Google to expand your reach to a broader audition. Providing consumers and vendors with — what feels like — direct access to the ideas and opinions of CEOs and brand executives is undeniably valuable, and helps to position the leaders of your company as integral industry influencers.
Puzzle Partner is the most trusted marketing agency focused exclusively on complex B2B initiatives for the travel and hospitality technology industry. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering influential content, marketing services, and public relations rooted in the skills of our team and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.
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Alan E. Young is the President of Puzzle Partner Ltd. and co-founder of Next Big Thing Travel & Hospitality. Previously, Alan has held executive sales and marketing level positions with startup companies such as Newtrade Technologies, (acquired by Expedia), Hotel Booking Solutions (acquired by IBS Software) and TrustYou. Alan is past Chair of the Board of Directors of The OpenTravel Alliance and has been very involved with other industry associations most notably AHLA, HEDNA, and HTNG. With over two decades of experience in the travel and hospitality technology world, Alan specializes in helping innovative companies achieve winning performance and dramatic growth.
Puzzle Partner Ltd.