Thought leaders are not chosen; they are made. Brands are thinking more than ever before about how to harness the power of industry thought leaders.
Google is littered with articles on how to become a thought leader. But even if you followed their advice, you’re unlikely to find yourself being asked to give a Ted Talk.
Being a thought leader isn’t something that any brand can decide to do. It takes long-term commitment and a dedication to learning and listening.
We’re going to break down what makes a leader, a thought leader, and finally an insights-driven, industry-leading brand.
The makings of a thought leader
A few years ago, Forbes published an article on the “Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader.” In it, they list the following attributes that most good leaders possess:
Having the qualities listed above is important for an industry thought leader, but it’s not everything.
Above all, an industry thought leader is respected for their knowledge.
We said that thought leaders are not chosen; they are made. This is because, like influencers, people need to believe in your expertise before you can become a recognized leader in the industry.
How insights are turning brands into thought leaders
We spend a lot of time talking about how insights discovered through social data can be used for market research, innovation, and brand monitoring. But did you know that you can also use social data to become the leader in your industry?
In the business world, you cannot just state that you’re the “leader” because you need proof of sales and success to solidify your position. It is the customer who makes a brand an industry leader. So it follows that you should listen to what you customer wants, so you can better serve their needs, and become the default leader in your industry.
The key difference between a brand who “leads their industry” and one who is an “industry thought leader” is what they do with the knowledge that makes them successful.
Whole foods: An industry thought leader
Whole Foods is an example of how you can be successful financially and also build standards that improve grocery store standards.
They have established themselves as the go-to place for healthy, fresh, organic, and socially responsible groceries. It is part of their mission to deliver educational resources about food and cooking for their customers. Everything, from their packaging to their online content, projects their message for high quality food standards.
But to remain industry-leading, brands need to continue to increase their knowledge about current consumer preference, and lead innovation. Social listening helps industry thought leaders engage with current trends.