Achieving Thought Leadership through Content Marketing

Being acknowledged as a thought leader is possible when an organization displays how they are passionate about their purpose, practices and values. As thought leaders the organization must establish a compelling vision, build meaningful relationships and embrace self-discipline to achieve business results. From a communications perspective, this means that leaders take time to understand their purpose, learn to become compelling narrators, and frame their experience to inspire trust.

A new generation of business leader is emerging. One who embraces “thought leadership” as a way to drive a culture of organizational effectiveness, engagement and long-term prosperity. These leaders have learned that by investing in sponsored self/brand content marketing they can almost immediately develop a competitive advantage. Many already spend over 25% of their marketing budgets on content marketing and “78% of CMOs believe that custom content is the future of marketing”. – Yahoo Advertising Solutions (August, 2013)

This form of communication, also known as “brand publishing”, is intended to aid consumers with awareness, advocacy and purchase. The potential exists to help establish credibility, build relationships and gain trust among target customers. Content marketing empowers organizations to have direct, relevant and real-time conversations with their audiences.

However, two significant barriers have arisen in recent years for many enterprises. First, many have discovered that great content is of little use if no one can find it. Search (not SEO), most specifically “Enterprise Search”, is a significant issue for many organizations. Many enterprises host significant levels of relevant content, but don’t realize that customers can’t find it at all or struggle to easily access this information when they are actively looking for answers, solutions, or advice.

Secondly, end-to-end compliance solutions are required by organizations of all sizes in order to embrace the emerging regulatory requirements and to review and archive content from all related assets including websites, blogs and social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Solutions now exist so that compliance officers and inside legal counsel can monitor both static and interactive corporate communication with ease and intelligent functionality. All messages are captured, preserved in their native form and indexed in a secure archive. Postings are indexed and searchable via message criteria, including date and content keywords. Selected postings can be produced on-demand, assigned to multiple reviewers, or marked or tagged as “complaint” or “advertising” for compliance and supervisory review. All administrator activity is logged and quantifiable, illustrating policy enforcement and evidence of review for social media compliance. An audit trail captures data on every visual inspection of each posting in the social media archive so compliance officers can quantify social media data with comprehensive reporting functionality. Customizable organizational usage reports and evidence of supervision/policy enforcement can be created for review as evidence of a reasonably designed policy.

Trust is the cornerstone of a productive content marketing program. For the many organizations, institutions, corporations, governments this is an issue. Experience has shown that no amount of (traditional) marketing can change this fact. However, those that choose to be authentic can flourish while those that fail to do so, receive a severe public backlash. Quality self content or “brand publishing” has been proven to be an essential part of an integrated marketing communications programs. The optimized deployment of self content proves to be the convergence between the public relations and advertising industries. All sponsored content (including advertising) should emphasize an “organizational storyline” intended to both attract and engage the target audience.

Through the integrated management of sponsored (self) content, brands develop a more sophisticated approach to measurement and analysis of its impact. This means evolving thinking beyond impressions and reach. Sponsored content is a lot more than display ads. Sponsored content engages interested audiences. It delivers messages directly and indirectly. It strategically positions the organization and establishes credibility with the target audience. To be successful you need a multi-dimensional measurement program that links the sponsored content with the relevance with the target audience.

The internet has changed the way we all connect with consumers. News now spreads at “tweet speed”. Organizations who fail to consider their audience and their sensitivities are learning the new realities quickly and mercilessly. Reputation management must quickly escalate as a primary concern for every organization. The hyper-connected, social consumer is always on duty, ready to criticize when you mess up. It is important for brands to use social listening, community building and engagement for reputation management. Social media can be an effective early warning system. The key is to be prepared to act quickly.

Many have learned that the key to becoming acknowledged as a “Thought Leader” is to develop a well structured completely integrated content marketing program where strategy, technology and content are seamlessly incorporated together.

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