According to a recent study, 63% of consumers stated that they prefer to buy goods and services from companies that stand for a shared purpose. Given today’s new reality, that is not surprising. The benefits of connecting emotionally with customers have already been proven far and wide, and businesses everywhere should take notice when it comes to their marketing and content strategy.
Indeed, there’s much more to marketing today than a straightforward brand or services promotion. Content marketing has become the go-to discipline for connectivity and building a trusting customer base. But beyond the traditional content marketing realms, a more sophisticated form of communication is evolving in popularity. It is known as thought leadership marketing.
A branch from the broader well-known discipline of content marketing, thought leadership is a very specific strategy focused on providing insightful and innovative content that influences a narrative. It goes deep, and beyond the regular day-to-day content plan.
Thought leader marketing is all about providing value to the audience. Rather than creating content that’s designed to drive sales, you create content that allows you to participate in a much bigger conversation. Is it worth your time and effort? Absolutely. A study conducted by LinkenIn showed that 60% of consumers credited thought leadership content with a purchase of a product or software they were not previously planning to buy.
With the right research and tools, thought leadership marketing is now more accessible for SMBs than ever. In this article, we introduce you to top trending thought leadership topics in 2021/2022 and how you can use them as part of your social media content plan.
The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the most significant global crisis our generation has seen. The impact has driven changes that have become a permanent part of our daily life. There are many aspects to the discussions in the thought leadership communities surrounding Covid and its implications, our health and wellness is the first.
Our resilience in our health and wellness as we learn to live with Covid is a predominant discussion within the thought leadership narratives. Yet, what does it mean to be healthy, not only physically but psychologically and emotionally? Many big brands have made this content subject present in their online discussions, and perhaps you should to.
How to protect our health and constantly improve it is a conversation that is worth participating in. A small business can develop its point of view and become a part of that conversation easily. If you have a website, try including a health and wellness section with tips, blog posts, and recommendations. You can also share resources that reflect your voice and position on the subject.
Some content examples to easily tackle are exercise routines, meditation, self-help topics, and nutrition.
For instance, a sporting goods store can post a weekly video with at-home workout tips. A restaurant might highlight content that promotes a well-balanced diet. If you are a local business, how about highlighting your community farmer’s markets for fresh and organic produce? A weekly inspirational video to motivate and empower is always a great and easy idea and any celebrity wellness content will always drive that engagement you are looking for!
For a more advanced approach, try generating podcasts or YouTube videos. Expressing your POV and passion concerning topics your audience cares about will go a long way in establishing your brand as a voice in thought leadership topics.
In order to produce thought leadership content, you should first find the right resources. A good start would be browsing the feeds and resources of thought leaders regarding health and wellness. If you find something you like, you can even reference their material later in your content. For example, Blue Zones, a term coined by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic and New York Times bestselling author. Dan discovered five places in the world where people live the longest and are healthiest and dubbed them as blue zones. These blue zones are now a trending topic in the world of wellness and can be easily incorporated into any content on the subject you create.
Oct 10 – World Mental Health Day
Nov 13 – World Kindness Day
May 21 – World Meditation Day
June 11 – Global Wellness Day
One of the hardest-hit sectors following the Covid outbreak are small businesses. With more than 34% of small US businesses still closed, the Covid outbreak created disruptions for many small businesses and changed the way they do business.
Building Back Better became a well-known catch-phrase following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. It was recognized that the time period following a disaster is an optimal time to make changes in a business or community.
Build back better has become a hot topic this year with Joe Biden proposing a Build Back Better Plan with a projected $7 trillion Covid-19 relief, future economic, and infrastructure packages. In addition, the Small Business Association or SBA has included its “Build Back Better” initiative in its recovery resources and various relief programs that can assist small businesses.
One of the main topics within the “Build Back Better” discussions for small businesses is about recovering from Covid by building a contingency plan for the subsequent crises. Small businesses that have created a working road map that plans for recovery and the future can support other small businesses that are navigating their way through the coming weeks.
An excellent way to participate in these conversations and provide a service to other small businesses is by providing content with relief resource links for other small businesses and sharing your insights with practical ways to adapt to the changes in your niche and how you did it.
In addition, you can highlight statistics that help build support around the SMB space. Finally, you can take part yourself in rebuilding small businesses yourself by using your social media handles to showcase small businesses that you love and recommend.
Nov 27 – Small Business Saturday
March 18 – Companies that care day
April 29-May 5 – National Small Business Week
The Covid pandemic has driven changes in small businesses workflow and many other areas. As a result, small businesses have had to adapt, whether replacing in-person company meetings with Zoom, updating small business websites to increase digital real-estate, or rethinking their workforce.
A key concept within the thought leadership topic about the Future of Work is Understanding Your Customers.
Understanding your customer’s personas in marketing is essential, but it’s crucial to know how Covid has affected them. Within the thought leadership discussions that are prevailing, this is a critical component in what’s trending. Understanding how expectations have changed and how small businesses should communicate to their customers to understand and meet those expectations. As small businesses participate in these discussions, it will go a long way for any small business to share its POV and engage its audiences in the actions and changes they are undergoing in order to communicate with them better.
An excellent way to create content this thought leadership topic could be to generate content that shares your experiences with any consumer behavior shifts and your strategies to meet your customer’s expectations.
For instance, you can write about how your small business adapted to your customers’ needs by adding phone customer service support or how you personalized your communications with your customers by adding live-chat to your check out on your website.
You could also reach out to your customers and ask them what they need from you. This will open the door to a more personal conversation between your brand and its audience. And lastly, a sincere thank you once in a while to show appreciation can also go a long way.
Third Tuesday of every quarter – Get to Know Your Customers Day
April 18 – Customer Appreciation Day
Undoubtedly, the work from home model is a central part of the significant changes in the global workforce and has impacted everyone, everywhere. Any working parent will tell you that school closures and remote schooling have wreaked havoc on their schedules and daily life. Family and individuals alike have found that juggling work from home has its benefits and challenges. You can bring value into this conversation rather easily, and it is one worth participating in.
A great way to chime in on this thought leadership conversation is to share the creative solutions you have found to find the perfect work-from-home and home office hybrid models. Whether it’s creating content that discusses the value of flexible working hours for families on a blog or offering a mini time management highlights video on your social media, any brand can offer helpful tips to others and share its POV.
Additional angles to approach is content about improving your home office space, and of course – throwing in some humor into the mix is always something social media followers will appreciate.
If you want to provide value for your readers and give them some inspiration for acclimating to the small business remote working models, Twitter is a great way to jump in on the dialogue. Following the top thought leaders on the subject like Sara Sutton, the “Queen of Remote Work,” and commenting on her tweets, as well as offering your insights, will go a long way in establishing your POV. Another effective way to be a part of the “Future of Work” conversation is by sharing your ideas in short videos that have links connected to resources about the topic on social media—for example, linking the article on 8 Tips For Keeping Your Kids Busy While Working at Home in a short humorous video showcasing kids. Additionally, you can get in on the home office conversions by offering tips & tricks as studies show that home offices are here to stay.
March 9 – Organize your home office day
April 19 – Wear your pajamas to work day
Moving on from all Covid-related topics, a popular long-standing thought leadership topic you should include in your content is women’s empowerment. You don’t have to search for long online to find this subject has sustained prominence globally in discussions.
Women’s empowerment is an idea that reflects the process of providing value to women in many venues. This includes equaling the gender pay gaps, body positive messaging, seeking women’s perspectives on social issues, or raising the status of women’s issues through awareness, literacy, or training. Whether it is celebrating National Women’s Business Week in October or celebrating prominent women influencers – online conversations are predominant.
Joining the conversation for Women’s empowerment is one of the easiest ways to engage your audience and start that meaningful conversation. The topics of women’s empowerment include body image discussions, gender pay gaps, and what it means to be a woman in the workplace.
Highlighting a woman entrepreneur in your industry through your social media channels or creating a campaign on your website that addresses women’s health issues like breast cancer and body image disorders are a couple of ways to make your voice heard. In addition, providing valuable resource links to your audience that empowers them with knowledge also increases your POV online and, over time, can associate you as an active authority.
Today, many prominent women thought leaders, from Brene Brown to Elizabeth Gilbert, known for the famous book “Eat, Pray, Love,” to Tarana Burke, who is well known for starting the #MeToo movement, are providing extensive material online.
These women and many others have much to say on the wide range of women empowerment topics online. Any small business could develop their own POV and share their thoughts on issues like being vulnerable in the workplace and referencing Brene Brown’s material, showcasing women entrepreneurs that have inspired you with a short or promoting a healthy view on body image on social media.
The third week of Oct – National Business Women’s Week
March 6th – Women’s History Month
March 8th – International Women’s Day
Aug 26 – Women’s Equality Day
Since 1987 the concept of sustainable development has turned into a real buzzword in almost every industry. The idea is that human societies should live and meet their needs without compromising future generations’ needs.
Sustainability discusses reduced carbon emissions, improved air quality, and identifying products that minimize concerns about health and safety risks, so you might think it would be difficult for a small business to share their point of view on the matter. However, you would be reasonably surprised how getting in on the conversation and sharing your narrative is easy. There are many angles to sustainability, and they are all top trending ideas that all companies, including small businesses, can participate in.
Conservatism is a primary focus of sustainability. Making sure our small businesses are engaging in eco-friendly practices is crucial. Small businesses can contribute to the narrative by sharing their top products or services connected to their industry with strong, sustainable development policies.
Engaging in the conversation with different ways a small business can contribute is a great way to get your POV heard. For example, a small house cleaning service might follow a green cleaning product’s social media channels and engage in conversation on Twitter, IG, or Facebook using the relevant hashtags with your branding, or create a short awareness video. Moreover, any small business could jump in on the zero waste consumption campaigns by advertising discounts for customers bringing in their recyclable containers for takeaway food orders.
Being a part of the greater conversation comes easily on small businesses’ websites as well. Discussing the sustainability issues important to the industry trends and offering your insights promotes your brand’s narrative in the conversation.
If you are looking for leading thought leadership names, you can drop in your hashtags on social channels – this thought leadership subject is excellent. There are many notable leaders on the issue. Promoting your brand with their ideas while providing value to your audience is easy because so much content is already available. For instance, Sarah Susanka, a leading author in the “Not so Big Series” has become a leading voice in conservationism. Any small business real estate company could promote their brand with listings that highlight eco-friendly ideas by sharing material in direct emails or social channels that provide references to Sarah Susanka’s website or sharing a short video highlighting eco-friendly homes.
Another big name in this topic is Elon Musk. His view on renewable energy is widely shared across social media and YouTube. Becoming a part of the SpaceX conversation on your blog or YouTube channel or responding to his eco-friendly topics on Twitter will place your brand square in the center of the sustainability conversation.
March 22nd – World Water Day
October 1st – World Vegetarian Day
December 23rd – Regifting Day
March 3 – World Wildlife Day
March 18 – World Recycling Day
April 22 – Earth Day
May 20 – Bike to Work Day
June 8 – World Ocean’s Day
July 3- International Plastic Bag Free Day
Asserting your presence online through leadership marketing is not as hard as it might sound. One of the critical factors is consistency and volume. Providing valuable quality content is essential, but in reality, quantity is vital. The more you provide valuable content across multi-media channels and other venues such as blogs, podcasts, or even webinars, the sooner your brand will be associated with leadership in your niche. In addition, publishing content backlinks to relevant topics regarding top issues will drive your brand’s presence and relationship with the audience. Therefore, it is essential to leverage a wide range of digital channels that engage and communicate your messages and ideas.
It’s not enough to post once a month as the amount of content shared regularly is exorbitant. Small businesses should prioritize posting quality content regularly that hooks audiences with the top thought leadership that is trending. Being active and sharing on social media is almost guaranteed to build a strong community of followers if you consistently share your messages each week. On social media, video content is the primary venue of sharing. Using popular video footage to express your POV is easy on social media platforms. You can utilize a content calendar to plan and schedule posts, whether posting once a week or bi-weekly.
To sum it all up, thought leaders are people and companies that use their niche to voice their views and promote a better way of life or doing business. Thought leadership marketing is an effective way to be a part of those larger conversations online and build trust with your customers and audience. In today’s market, the new televisions are mobile phones and iPads. Every day, consumers scroll through social media and comb websites in research to find solutions to their needs, and sharing relevant material is a sure way for any small business to meet those customer needs with your ideas and products.