6 min read

Thought Leadership and LinkedIn

Thought Leadership and LinkedIn

Let's talk about the struggle bus that is posting consistently on LinkedIn. You might be thinking, "But I'm a professional writer! I took all the personal branding courses! I'm even in LinkedIn's fancy-schmancy creator program! This should be a cakewalk!" 

Well, guess what? Even the pros can get stuck in a content creation rut. Case in point: the founder of Merrative, a company that helps brands and creators publish thought leadership content. You'd think they'd have this LinkedIn game on lock, but consistency was still a challenge.

Here's the kicker: LinkedIn was actually working to grow Merrative. They scored 60% of their new clients through cold DMs and racked up over 500 newsletter subscribers from their posts. So, by not showing up on the reg, they were leaving some serious opportunity on the table.

But then, a lightbulb moment: the concept of "thought leadership" content. Sounds fancy, right? But all it means is leveraging your experience, expertise, and hot takes to create content that positions you as an authority in your space.

It’s exciting stuff. Keep reading to learn how you can leverage your own thought leadership content.

The Secret Sauce to Thought Leadership Content

So, what's the difference between your run-of-the-mill LinkedIn post and a piece of thought leadership gold? It all comes down to showcasing your unique perspective and insights.

Take Reed Hastings, the big boss at Netflix. He dropped a book called "No Rules Rules" that shared his bold ideas about corporate culture and the future of work. Not only did this elevate Netflix's brand, it also cemented Hastings as a CEO with some serious vision.

But here's the thing: you don't need to write a whole book to be a thought leader on LinkedIn. The platform is one of the quickest and most accessible places to get your ideas out there, thanks to creator-friendly formats like posts, articles, and newsletters.

Plus, LinkedIn has a built-in audience of industry peers and potential customers who are primed and ready to engage with your content. The algorithm is like your personal hype man, pushing your posts to the people most likely to care.

Why Thought Leadership is Your Key to LinkedIn Domination

Okay, now you're probably thinking, "Cool, but what's in it for me?" Fair question.

Publishing thought leadership content on LinkedIn is like networking on steroids. By consistently sharing your unique insights and experiences, you're establishing yourself as a credible voice in your industry. And when people see you droppin' knowledge regularly, they see you as the go-to expert.

This is where the magic happens. Your LinkedIn connections start sliding into your DMs with job opportunities, collaboration proposals, and maybe even a few thirsty pick-up lines (hey, it happens). Your content becomes a magnet for professional attention that can seriously level up your career or business.

But here's the thing: it's not enough to regurgitate the same generic advice as everyone else. You must bring something new and valuable to the conversation to stand out on LinkedIn.

Finding Your "Unique Opinion" Factor

One of the biggest roadblocks to creating thought leadership content is the fear of sounding basic or unoriginal. We've all stared at a blank document, wondering, "What do I have to say that hasn't been said a million times before?"

But here's the secret: your unique perspective is your superpower. No one else has lived your exact experiences or seen the world through your specific lens. So when you tap into that and share your authentic insights, it's inherently valuable and original.

That's what Ryan Law, the Director of Content Marketing at Ahrefs, calls sharing your "earned secrets." The hard-won wisdom comes from rolling up your sleeves and doing the thing, day in and day out.

So forget about trying to be some polished, jargon-spouting "thought leader" robot. Just focus on being unapologetically yourself and sharing what you know. 

The 5-Step Content Creation System for LinkedIn Domination

Alright, you've bought in on the power of thought leadership and are ready to start flexing your expertise on LinkedIn. But where do you even begin?

Here's a proven 5-step system for cranking out fire content regularly without burning yourself out or sacrificing quality.

Step 1: Define Your Ride-or-Die Audience

Before tapping away at the keyboard, you need to understand who you're trying to reach clearly. I mean, specific, niche audience segments with whom you want to build relationships.

For example, if you're a SaaS founder, your key audiences might be:

  • VCs and angel investors in your space
  • Potential customers in your target industries
  • Other SaaS founders for peer mastermind opps

Take some time to really understand what makes these people tick. What are their biggest challenges and goals? Who do they look up to in the industry? What kind of content do they engage with?

The deeper you dig into your audience's psyche, the easier it will be to create content that grabs their attention and doesn't let go.

Step 2: Stockpile More Content Ideas Than You'll Ever Need

Now that you know who you're creating for, it's time to brainstorm an endless supply of juicy topics to riff on. The goal is to develop many potential post ideas so you're never left staring at a blinking cursor, wondering what to write about.

Here are a few tried-and-true frameworks for generating thought leadership gold:

  • Mine your own experiences: What lessons have you learned the hard way in your career? What unconventional advice would you give to your younger self? What parts of your job or industry do you love, hate, or wish you could change?
  • Piggyback on other people's ideas: What concepts or frameworks from other creators do you hardcore agree with, and why? How can you add your unique spin or examples to make it even more valuable?
  • Flex your wins (and losses): What significant milestones or achievements are you most proud of, and what did it take to get there? On the flip side, what failures or struggles have taught you the most? Don't be afraid to get vulnerable and share the messy parts - that makes you relatable.
  • Challenge the status quo: What "best practices" or trends in your industry are overrated, outdated, or just plain wrong? What would you do differently, and why? Don't just be contrarian for the sake of it, but don't be afraid to ruffle some feathers if you genuinely believe in your POV.
  • Nerd out on data and research: What new studies, reports, or technical innovations excite you? How do you interpret the key findings, and what implications do you see for your work or industry? Bonus points for original research or case studies from your own experience.

Step 3: Pick Your Content Poison (AKA Format)

LinkedIn offers a buffet of content formats, but you don't have to force yourself to use all of them. The key is to focus on the ones that play to your strengths and feel most natural.

For example, stick to text-based posts and articles if you're a strong writer but get tongue-tied on camera. LinkedIn Live could be your jam if you're a gifted gabber who loves to riff off the cuff. And if you're a data geek with a flair for design, infographics, and carousel posts might be your sweet spot.

The only "rule" here is to prioritize substance over style. Your content lives and dies by the quality of your ideas, not the shininess of your production value. A low-fi, authentic post that teaches something valuable will consistently outperform polished nothingness.

(So sit down, write, and then edit, edit, edit.)

Step 4: Put Your Content in Front of the Right Eyeballs

Creating killer content is only half the battle - you also need to ensure it reaches your target audience. LinkedIn's algorithm rewards posts that spark genuine conversation and engagement, so your mission is to get people talking (and clicking that "share" button).

Here are a few ways to boost your content's reach and impact:

  • Ask thought-provoking questions: Don't just end your post with "Thoughts?" Prompt your audience to share their experiences, opinions, or counterarguments. And when they do, don't leave them hanging - jump in and continue the discussion.
  • Cross-post to other platforms: LinkedIn might be your main stomping ground, but that doesn't mean you can't repurpose your posts for other channels where your audience hangs out. Twitter, Facebook Groups, Reddit, and Slack communities—spread the love and watch your ideas take on a life of their own.
  • Slide into the DMs: When someone comments on your post or shares it with their network, don't be afraid to thank them personally. A little genuine appreciation goes a long way in building relationships and turning casual readers into true fans.

Step 5: Learn, Iterate, and Keep Showing Up

Congrats, you've officially popped your thought leadership cherry and put some content out into the wild. Now what?

The most important thing is to keep the momentum going. Consistency is key to building a reputation and following on LinkedIn. But that doesn't mean you have to churn out a novel's worth of content every day—even one high-quality post per week can be enough to stay top-of-mind and keep your audience engaged.

As you publish more content, pay attention to what resonates with your audience and what falls flat. Double down on the topics, formats, and tactics that get the most traction, and don't be afraid to experiment with new ideas and approaches.

Remember, thought leadership is a marathon, not a sprint. The goal is not to go viral with one lucky post but to build a body of work that showcases your expertise, perspective, and personality over time.

So keep showing up, putting in the reps, and honing your craft. The more you flex your thought leadership muscles, the stronger and more influential your voice will become.

Bringing It All Home

LinkedIn has become the go-to platform for professionals to build their brand, grow their network, and establish themselves as experts in their field. But with so much noise and competition, it's not enough to just show up and post any old thing.

To stand out and impact, you need to create thought leadership content showcasing your unique insights, experiences, and opinions. This means tapping into your hard-won lessons and hot takes and sharing them in a way that provides real value to your target audience.

By following the five-step system outlined above, anyone can become a LinkedIn content machine, even if they're starting from scratch. It's not about being the loudest or the flashiest—it's about being authentic, consistent, and relentlessly focused on serving your people.

So, if you're ready to take your LinkedIn game to the next level and start building the kind of influence and authority that opens doors and changes lives, there's no time like the present. 

Grab your keyboard, crack those knuckles, and let's go. The world needs your voice and vision - it's time to claim your spot as a thought leader and make your mark.

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