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With so much advice and content out in the world already, audiences are having their attention pulled in all sorts of directions, not only making it difficult for them to find true value in what they consume, but also making it challenging for thought leaders to get noticed.
But if you run a business or want to make a name for yourself in the world of thought leadership, rising above the noise is key for success. To do so, consider the following advice from the business leaders of Rolling Stone Culture Council. Their insights may give you that boost you need to stand out from the competition.
Know Your Audience
Stay down to earth, even humorous, but straightforward. Stay true to yourself but know your audience. The more you know of your audience, the more you can reach them, relate to them and capture their attention. That’s the number one rule of communicating and establishing leadership. – Luanne Smith, Taboos & Transgressions
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Be a Human
Be real. There is a lot of fluff in the world of “influencing,” and a lot of it isn’t real. For me, the key to connecting with humans is being human. I allow myself to be vulnerable with my audience because too often thought leaders paint the world in rainbows, and that is not the truth. I recognize the privilege I have in having over 100,000 followers and aim to always be real with them about my experiences. – Madison Butler, GRAV
Look to the Future
Spend your time hypothesizing about where your industry is heading three to 10 years from now and why. Develop a keen understanding of what is and what is not working today and create models that capture how things will evolve in the future. That’s where the magic happens in thought leadership. – Chuck Wilson, Babygrande Records
Share Your Story
It’s easy for entrepreneurs to get caught up in the dance of what’s trending now. But every trendy post is trying to communicate an overall theme, and that is their journey. Every organization has a unique story to tell in their industry, where many are riding the same wave. Be true to your brand and share your organization’s story. Then, the groups you need to reach will be reached. One word: authentic. – Donna Hockey, Surreal Brewing Company
Write Something Relevant
Be relevant. A lot of thought leadership content is shameless self-promotion and doesn’t use current events as a launch pad, which is the total opposite of the value of the story. Speak to the larger topic and present your perspective in a more organic way. – Stu Zakim, Bridge Strategic Communications LLC
Present Clear Value
Create straightforward, meaningful content that presents clear value to the audience. Seek to understand what drives them, what matters to them and what they find entertaining. Prioritize the audience, not the algorithm. – Todd McFliker, JustCBD
The Rolling Stone Culture Council is an invitation-only community for Influencers, Innovators and Creatives. Do I qualify?
Say Something No One Else Has
Be original. Dare to say something no one else has or will. Putting together the same sentences everyone’s already read and safely pre-digested doesn’t move anything forward. Leaders have to lead; sometimes that means making content no one else has had the nerve to. If it gets people thinking and talking, then mission accomplished: You’ve created real thought leadership content. – Cate Rubenstein
Home in on Your Specialty
The best thought leadership ideas come from subject matter experts. I encourage leaders to home in on their specialties and the subjects with which they are the most familiar. That’s where truly unique insights and content are born. – Anthony Zaccaria, Linktree
Do First, Then Teach
As my dad would say, “Advice is cheap; action is expensive.” I think one way to create thought leadership is by doing first, then teaching. If you can teach by action, then your advice is solid. I have always felt that the best way to filter advice is to watch the actions of the person giving it. If their actions do not match the lyrics of the song, then you might need to find a new dance partner! – Kelly Schwarze, Indie Film Factory
Stay Consistent With Your Values
The key to this is to be authentic. If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. Each thought leader will have a specific niche or demographic of followers, and it’s important to keep the content consistent with the values held dear by you and your followers. – King Holder, PROCUSSION
Take the Focus Off Yourself
The most important thing about creating thought leadership content is that it is not about you and your company; it is about the audience and what they want to learn from you. A thought leader shares knowledge gleaned from being an organizational and industry leader in order to provide value to the audience. This can be advice, trends, industry news, etc. and should not be promotional or self-aggrandizing. – Nicole Rodrigues, NRPR Group
Make It Practical
Be honest and truthful with your content and make the content practical. If you are not willing to use your own content as advice to become successful, then nobody else should. That is your cue to create thought leadership content that rises above the noise. – Rene Nunez, Sensum
Be Authentically You
Be authentic and unique. You’ve become a leader in your field because you’re you and not somebody else. So write and talk like the person who got you where you are today, and don’t try to be who and what you’re not. The authenticity will be apparent, and the robotic, almost sterile mode of writing will give way to pieces that are not only informative, but actually enjoyable to read too. – Jonathan Martin, FilmQuest
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