Thought leadership can elevate your brand. By creating content that showcases the expertise of your stakeholders, you can drive brand awareness, boost your brand’s reputation, and unlock new business opportunities. While its benefits are vast, most experts get hung up on topic ideas. One of the most common questions aspiring thought leaders ask is, “What should I write about?” To help, here are four thought leadership ideas that you can use to inspire your next piece, but first, we’ll define thought leadership.
What is thought leadership?
Thought leadership is content that draws on the author’s experience and knowledge to educate or enlighten an audience.
With thought leadership, the author is positioned as a subject matter expert whose advice or take on an issue is valuable because of his or her experience and background. Sometimes the advice is controversial, but it doesn’t have to be.
For readers, thought leadership is about learning from experts. For brands, thought leadership is about positioning a CEO or VP as an industry leader.
What are the most common types of thought leadership content?
Most thought leadership content takes the form of an article. Research shows 91% of brands use articles as their go-to content form for thought leadership, but here’s a look at the most popular choices, according to SEMRush:
- White papers
Thought leadership ideas
Focus on workplace norms that your brand doesn’t follow
Over the years, certain workplace norms have rooted themselves within the corporate culture. For example, people typically work an eight or nine-hour day, they’re paid every two weeks, and they work within a hierarchy of personnel.
If your team breaks a workplace norm, you can turn it into a thought leadership piece. In the article, you can answer common questions like:
- What does your team do differently?
- What sparked the change?
- How did you implement the change?
- What are the results?
Deloitte, a professional services organization, challenges a workplace norm by moving away from traditional management roles. Rather than “managing teams,” the company introduced the idea of “orchestrating teams.” Where “managing” is more about control, “orchestrating” is more about working together. The brand shared this blog article on the topic.
Highlight an aspect of your brand’s corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Your company has likely implemented changes or processes because of its corporate social responsibility. Likely, those changes occurred within the four pillars of CSR:
- Environmental responsibility
- Ethical responsibility
- Philanthropic responsibility
- Economic responsibility
Consider how your CSR has altered your company for the better. For example, have you decreased your carbon footprint? Improved labor policies? Focused on growing a diverse and inclusive workforce? Committed to a local charity? If so, any of these items can serve as a topic for thought leadership.
Bauer Media Group, which owns magazines, print shops, and radio and TV stations around the globe, created a video that focuses on its commitment to sustainability. The video shares specific changes the company has made, like offering climate change training for employees.
Conduct research on a buzzing industry topic
It’s common for industry trends or headlines to inspire thought leadership content. For example, AI is a buzz-worthy topic in many industries, including influencer marketing.
Ted Murphy, the CEO of IZEA, which offers ContentMarketing.com as a service, recently shared an article on the topic. Rather than simply sharing his thoughts on AI or how his brands plan to use it, he asked his team to conduct research and shared the results on LinkedIn.
The majority of consumers want AI-generated content labeled as such, or at least disclosed in some way, according to IZEA research.
By conducting research on an industry topic, Murphy propels the conversation and offers new insights to consider.
Let brand events inspire thought leadership
Is your company hosting a webinar? Is your CEO attending a leadership conference? Whether your company hosts an event or attends one, use it to inspire thought leadership content.
While you can certainly highlight the event and its takeaways, try to focus on one key lesson that you learned.
Dan Wang, the head of Johnson and Johnson’s Innovation Asia Pacific, wrote about a healthcare conference that she attended but focused her article on the growing recognition of Asian companies at the conference and the importance of it.
If you need thought-proving content ideas, give these tips a try. Remember, thought leadership isn’t always ground-breaking or controversial. More often than not, compelling content offers a new perspective or advice on an interesting topic.