27,000,000 pieces of content are shared each day.
If you let this statistic from Nielsen sink in, it feels overwhelming. It also seems absurd that the world would ever need that much information. This is the problem some people have dubbed “content overload.” It’s been written about dozens of times (simply adding to the overload), and it’s been debated whether 2014 is “the year of content marketing” or “the year of content shock.”
How Thought Leadership Beats Content Overload by @Kelsey_M_Meyer
But there is a way to make sure your company’s content is adding to the conversation instead of piling onto it: Use thought leadership to drive your content strategy.
Thought leadership is the act of sharing your knowledge with an audience for the purpose of educating and engaging them. It’s the giving side of marketing and, in my opinion, the only long-term content strategy that will provide a consistent ROI.
Here’s how thought leadership can inform your content strategy.
Start with a Specific Audience in Mind
Unless you’re selling toilet paper, your target market is not everyone. And even if you are selling toilet paper, according to my best friend—a salesperson with a huge consumer goods company—only 99% of American households currently purchase it. (Gross, I know.)
Create content that resonates with the 100 or 1000 people who really matter to your business.
The point is, you have a specific audience, so creating the next viral cat video isn’t that helpful unless your audience really loves cats and it makes sense for your brand.
Instead of creating content that will resonate with the masses, create content that resonates with the 100 or 1,000 people who really matter to your business.
Write Content That Will Add Value—Not Content You Think Will Get Clicks
Stop starting the content creation process with a snazzy headline, then working your way to the content itself. Do a deep dive into the information that’s missing from your industry. What aren’t the experts discussing? What do you have to offer that’s truly unique? What information could you share that would truly be leading the conversation in a new direction?
I’ve realized that posts that come from my personal experience get a lot more traction than articles that are more generic. For example, I wrote about interview tips for LinkedIn, but people commented and shared because I provided real examples from interviews I had conducted instead of generic advice.
By forcing yourself to dig deeper into topics, you educate yourself in the process and are able to add more value to your audience than you would by regurgitating information that others have repeated 10 times in the last week.
One other benefit to making your content more detailed is that Google likes long-form content. It’s difficult to write long-form content on fluff, so a thought leadership-driven content strategy means you’ll be able to write more insightful pieces and reap the benefits from Google, too.
Build a Community Around Your Content
Part of your strategy should involve creating a community around your content. Interacting with the people who share your articles is incredibly important, which is why you should respond to comments on your blog posts.
It’s a lot easier to build a tribe of followers when your content is coming from an individual thought leader rather than a brand. Remember, people connect with other people—not companies.
“People connect with other people—not companies.”
Creating content just for content’s sake is not going to help you accomplish your business goals, but letting your expertise dictate the content you create and leveraging the community around that content will. If you choose to educate first and sell second, you’ll create a more genuine connection with your audience and reap long-term benefits.