Malcolm Gladwell’s ground breaking classic, The Tipping Point, identified the power of thought leaders in all types of marketing. He suggested that connectors, experts in any given niche and salesmen are essential in propelling ideas and industries forward.
His book was published in 2000 just as the Internet began to redefine the way we shop, learn and interact. Blogs and social media venues now allow anyone the ability to become an expert in any small business marketing niche if they are willing to put in the effort and take the time to interact online.
Although establishing expertise in your chosen niche can and will improve search engine optimization, it is not the primary reason to answer blogs or enter into online discussions. Online thought leaders build reputations and gain respect that translates to more than just increased web traffic. It can and has improved business and opened countless doors to new and exciting opportunities.
Inbound marketing may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but if you seek out forums that deal with topics you care about and engage in thoughtful, respectful discussions you’ll quickly claim your place as a thought leader in your niche.
There are a few basic rules to follow, but once you get started it’s a lot like riding a bike.
6 Steps to Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader
- Do a little research and find quality blogs and sites that relate to your small business marketing niche. Google Blog Reader and Ask.com are both good places to begin your search. Type in a few questions that fit your expertise and read the blogs with active discussions within the past week or month. The fresher the comments, the better the site.
- Choose a name and use it for all your blog responses. You are trying to build a reputation, so it just doesn’t make sense to use different names or tags. Don’t get too clever; remember you want people to know who you are, so use your name or business name.
- Use the same avatar on different blogs. People are more likely to remember a picture than a name, so create a high quality profile picture that will help establish you as an expert. Even though the photo is small, it can still be clear and memorable.
- Read through the blogs and leave comments that add to the discussion. Mass-generated comments don’t improve your search engine ranking or build your reputation. Spun comments are usually ignored or deleted.
- State you opinion in a thoughtful and respectful manner, but differing ideas are fine. Short comments telling the blogger that he or she is brilliant don’t add much. Comments are best kept to a few sentences, but should have value.
- Don’t promote your website, promote yourself. If your comments look like advertising, they probably won’t be accepted, but once you establish trust as a valued member of a social media community others will seek you out.
Social media has grown leaps and bounds over the last few years. It’s a fantastic tool for anyone who wants to establish thought leadership in any niche. Let us know what sites work for you and if you have any thoughts on improving our online conversations.