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LinkedIn Shares New Research into Effective, and Ineffective, Thought Leadership Approaches


Looking to set a clearer direction for your content efforts, and better establish yourself or your business as a thought leader in your niche?

This will definitely help – this week, LinkedIn has published its 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study, created in conjunction with Edelman, which highlights the key challenges and issues in the modern content landscape, and the elements you need to focus on in your efforts.

The study incorporates responses from 3,593 global business executives, from a wide range of industries and company sizes, providing key insight into B2B market shifts, and how decision-makers see the current landscape.

Which could be great for your planning – first off, respondents indicated that the pandemic has sparked a flood of thought-leadership content, but much of it is… well, not great.

LinkedIn Edelman B2B Thought Leadership report

While 54% of decision-makers say that they spend more than an hour per week reading and reviewing thought leadership, much of what they’re seeing isn’t winning them over, with 71% noting that less than half of the thought leadership they consume gives them valuable insights.

LinkedIn Edelman B2B Thought Leadership report

Which means it’s not really thought leadership at all. In order to lead the way, you need to be sharing your own, unique thoughts, and providing a new way of looking at common problems or challenges, which can then establish you as a go-to voice in your niche.

In other words, many aspiring thought leaders are ‘doing the things’, but they’re failing to differentiate themselves or their ideas, instead choosing to copy key elements, and regurgitate common lines and mantras.

Which presents a significant opportunity. As has always been the case in the thought-leadership sphere, while anyone can write blog posts and distribute them across the world, very few people can actually communicate effectively, and provide a valuable perspective on the key shifts happening in their industry. Being able to write is one element, but taking the time to take a broader view, and consider what you, personally, think that each trend means, then having the courage to communicate that, is what truly defines a real thought ‘leader’ in this respect.

And that can have real, direct benefits.

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LinkedIn Edelman B2B Thought Leadership report

In addition to this, effective thought leadership can also boost your branding efforts, with 63% of buyers saying that thought leadership “is important in providing proof that an organization genuinely understands or can solve your specific business challenges”.

The benefits are clear, but the challenge clearly lies in effective communication. You can’t simply assign a junior staff member to put together a few social media posts, nor can you expect your senior executives to be masters of written communication. Each element takes time and experience, and you need to invest in that effort, with a structured, defined process and approach, that will help to build your brand with every post and update.

And again, while anyone can write, great communication is a learned skill, and if you don’t have that capacity, you will fall short.

LinkedIn Edelman B2B Thought Leadership report

The same with research and expertise:

LinkedIn Edelman B2B Thought Leadership report

In essence, the guide underlines the value of taking a more dedicated, focused approach to your content marketing effort, not just posting the latest news on your website and hoping to generate response. You need to consider the purpose of every post, every article you create. What value will your audience glean from this? What unique perspective are you providing that they can’t get anywhere else?

Filling your content calendar to keep your social media profiles active is not a strategy – you need to consider how every update you share relates back to your brand goals, and further underlines your brand as a key leader in your niche.

This takes time and effort, and dedicated investment for most organizations. But as shown in these responses, that process can pay off, especially as more low quality content spills across the web.

You can read the full Edelman/LinkedIn 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study here.

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