Mastering the art of influence: Key types of thought leadership content

Types of thought leadership content


  • Thought leadership content has the potential to shape your brand, establish credibility and drive success 
  • There can be various types of thought leadership content including industry-related organizational and product-based. 
  • By leveraging various types of thought leadership content companies craft a well-rounded strategy 

Various types of thought leadership content can act as powerful tools for establishing authority, influencing audiences, and driving business growth. By sharing insights, expertise, and perspectives on relevant topics, thought leaders can position themselves as trusted resources and gain the attention of potential customers, partners, and investors.

There are numerous examples online that testify how the best thought leaders are not always the most knowledgeable or experienced but rather those who are able to challenge the status quo, offer new and innovative perspectives, and ask uncomfortable questions. This is because thought leadership is not simply about sharing information. It is about influencing the way people think and behave. It is about challenging the herd mentality and encouraging people to think for themselves.

But can that always guarantee success? As it turns out, evidence based on a Semrush survey suggests that a truly well-crafted thought leadership content requires a healthy mix of all – expertise, research-backed content and value-addition. But most of all, it calls for the ability to spark inspiration. 

types of thought leadership content
Source: Semrush

Therefore, by leading conversations, backed with data and research, thought leaders can create a sense of credibility that no other type of content can. 

Different types of thought leadership content

While there is no clear-cut formula for writing thought leadership content, it can be broadly categorized into three types – industry, organizational, and product thought leadership content.

Industry thought leadership can help you establish expertise on your subject matter, while organizational content sheds light on your company values, vision, and mission. Meanwhile, product thought leadership content provides a roadmap for your customers to navigate through best practices, how-tos, and other product solutions and services. 

By combining all three you get – a well-rounded thought leadership content strategy. But how do you translate the theory into action? Here are 10 different types of thought leadership content and how to incorporate them into your content strategy. 

1. Industry insights and analysis 

Thought leaders, with their deep understanding of industry trends, market developments, and emerging technologies, can provide invaluable perspectives that shape the way businesses operate and innovate.

However, mere reporting of facts and figures is not enough. Inevitably, it is important to delve into the underlying forces that drive industry shifts. In fact, this also involves connecting the dots between seemingly disparate events, that others might miss.

Take for instance, McKinsey & Company’s latest report on Generative AI and the future of work in America. This piece perfectly highlights trends and offers actionable insights for business leaders specific to the American region.

Industry insights
Source: Mckinsey Global Institute

2. How-to guides and tutorials 

How-to guides can be a great way for thought leaders to share their practical knowledge and expertise. Providing step-by-step guides to solve industry-specific problems or demonstrating expertise in executing specialized tasks, not only presents a chance to showcase problem-solving skills (a highly sought-after leadership skill). It also helps connect with the audience. 

3. Opinion pieces and commentary 

Opinion pieces and commentary allow thought leaders to take a stand on controversial industry issues. In other words, they make room for constructive criticism and alternatives, providing a chance to share unique perspectives with the world. Additionally, backing opinions with experience can add credibility and help shape the future of their industry.

For example, Fast Company is a business media brand that publishes articles, videos, and podcasts on a variety of topics. These encompass innovation, leadership, and technology. Their content is known for its thought-provoking and challenging perspectives on current events and industry trends. For example, their recent article, “What the future of hybrid work will (and won’t) look like, according to 27 business leaders,” offers a critical perspective from various leaders on hybrid work. 

Opinion piece
Source: Fast Company 

4. Case studies and success stories 

Businesses can showcase real-world examples of success by highlighting strategies that led to positive outcomes. By doing so, they can provide actionable insights that help others achieve similar results.

When writing case studies and success stories, it is important to be specific and detailed. Be sure to identify the specific challenges that the customer faced, strategies that they used to overcome those challenges, and the positive outcomes that they achieved.

5. Research papers and whitepapers

In-depth studies on relevant themes and data-driven findings providing original knowledge to the industry are all essential elements of thought leadership.

Thought leaders are not just regurgitating information that is already available. They are conducting original research, collecting data, and analyzing it to draw new conclusions and insights. This research can be used to solve industry problems, identify new opportunities, and help businesses make better decisions.

6. Webinars and podcasts 

Thought leaders can use a variety of multimedia formats to host engaging conversations with industry experts, share insights and experiences in an interactive format, and reach a wider audience.

When creating multimedia content for thought leadership, it is important to be engaging and informative. Choose topics relevant to your audience and those that you are passionate about. Be sure to do your research and prepare well for your interviews and presentations. And don’t forget to leverage multimedia elements, such as visuals and audio, to make your content more engaging.

7. Thought-provoking interviews 

Conducting interviews with influential figures in the industry to extract valuable insights and expertise, helps provide unique perspectives from industry leaders. Asking thought-provoking questions and challenging the status quo helps audiences see the world in new ways. In a way, it also helps audiences to develop new perspectives on important issues.

8. Infographics and visual content 

Infographics and visual content can help simplify complex ideas. Presenting data and statistics in digestible formats can thereby enhance content accessibility. Clear and concise language, visually appealing graphics, and interactive elements make content both informative and engaging.

Here’s an example of an infographic that captures content visually, giving readers a quick skim through the subject. 

Source: Forbes

9. Thought leadership through social media

Social media has become a primary source of information exchange for businesses of the times. Leveraging social media platforms for quick, timely insights, and interactive content can help businesses engage with their audience. Therefore, by sharing their insights and expertise on social media, thought leaders can reach a wider audience and establish themselves as trusted resources. 

10. Personal anecdotes and stories 

Last but not least, sharing personal experiences and lessons learned can demonstrate authenticity and relatability. By tying personal stories to industry-relevant insights, thought leaders can connect with their audience on a personal level and make their content more relatable.

Related reading: Developing thought leadership content that drives results

Making the most of thought leadership content 

In conclusion, it can be understood that businesses must diversify their thought leadership content strategy to maximize impact. This includes leveraging different types of thought leadership content formats. 

However, consistency and authenticity are the key link to success in thought leadership. Regularly producing high-quality content that is relevant to your audience can go a long way. Partnering with other thought leaders and co-creating content can also be an instrumental technique in cementing credibility. 

Therefore, by adding value, staying updated, and providing a nuanced perspective, you can create the perfect thought leadership content strategy.

Netscribes is uniquely positioned to deliver strategic thought leadership content as part of our Thought Leadership as Services that can drive tangible outcomes, helping you establish yourself as an industry leader. To craft tailored thought leadership content, reach out to us today.

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