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How to Build Social Thought Leadership with Content and Design

Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing
Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing

Today, many companies talk about the same topics on social networks, but with so many involved in the conversation, who are people actually listening to? Those with the most credibility, trust, and thought leadership.

When you’re perceived as an authoritative figure on a certain topic, your personal or business brand is going to attract more readers, subscribers, fans, followers, and inquiries.

In a world of information overload, achieving brand authority is one of the best ways to rise above the noise and build trust with a loyal audience.

I’m often asked how people and brands can become more authoritative within their community and target audience. The simple answer for those focused on social is through useful content experiences and design.

If you simply state that you’re an expert, no one is going to believe you. You have to demonstrate expertise by the value you create through useful information and social interactions.

You can learn more about how to create content marketing authority in this ebook, but here are a few helpful, actionable tips from some of my favorite experts in their own right.

Establishing Authority Through Design

Don’t wait for prospective customers to engage on their own. Design content that engages them from the very beginning, like Scott Brinker, co-founder and CTO of Ion Interactive, says.

Design content that encourages active consumers. Most content is passively consumed – our audience reads, watches or listens. Interactive content invites them to participate in quizzes, calculators, assessment tools, configurators, games and workbooks. – Scott Brinker

Effective design means managing the brand identity all the way from supplier interactions to partner experiences, like Sonia Simone, chief content officer at Copyblogger Media, suggests.

Avoid marketing tunnel vision. I’m a big believer in the idea that your marketing goes beyond your web page copy or the ads you create. It’s everything you communicate to prospects and customers. Every interaction with your company is marketing…from your support team to fulfillment to your supply chain. When something isn’t awesome, roll up your sleeves and find a way to help make it better. – Sonia Simone

Design sends a message to your prospective customer’s conscious mind. Make sure the signals you’re sending through information design convey authority. If they don’t, optimize your approach.

Authority Through Content

Blogging is one of the most powerful and widely used content marketing tactics. In order to establish authority through written content, blogging works best as a hybrid between persuasive speech and personal advice.

According to Bernadette Jiwa, founder at The Story of Telling, content should feel personal to readers:

Here are two small things we can do to improve content right away:
1) Speak to one person. Treat your content like a conversation rather than a description or a broadcast.
2) Write like people talk. If you wouldn’t say it, don’t type it.

Content writers also need to investigate the strength of each content channel and what it does best. The message must match the medium.

That’s why Jerod Morris, vice president of Rainmaker.FM, thinks podcasts have become enormously successful:

Text is not a real human voice inside of two ears and a head. A podcast is. As a podcaster, you are there in a listener’s car as they drive to work. You are there in the kitchen as they do the dishes. You are strolling beside them as they walk their dog.

Readers won’t engage with content that doesn’t make them feel something. Choose an approach that reaches readers in the most direct way.

Learn from the Experts

By integrating customer-centric design and content, marketers can create more meaningful social messages that attract, engage and inspire customers to take action. If you’re interested in learning more from experts on how to establish marketing authority, be sure to check out this eBook we produced with industry experts that include: Chris Brogan, Ann Handley, Danny Sullivan, Sally Hogshead, Joe Pulizzi, Brian Clark and others called Winning with Authority.

Or you can view the entire collection of advice here:

Lee Odden

Lee Odden

Lee Odden is the CEO and co-founder of TopRank Online Marketing who is known as a pioneer and passionate advocate of integrated marketing and public relations across the globe.

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