How Employee Advocacy Can Lift Your Thought Leadership

September 25, 2016

To understand the impact thought leadership has on a business, imagine your organization as a hot air balloon. Your corporate brand is the balloon itself. Your employees are the balloon pilot and passengers riding in the basket.

When your employees turn up the heat, your brand rises higher. As it rises, it lifts your employees up, too. The end result is a highly visible brand and a better view for everyone.

In the highly competitive battle for buyers’ attention, building thought leadership through consistent content sharing can be the differentiator that gives your brand better visibility than the rest. Read on to learn about the three kinds of thought leadership, why thought leadership matters, and how your brand can develop it through employee advocacy.

What Is Thought Leadership?

Generally speaking, thought leadership means having an informed point of view about your industry and the issues that affect it. Thought leadership leverages the knowledge and experience in your organization to best answer your audience’s questions—especially the ones they haven’t thought to ask yet. There are three different kinds of thought leadership:

  1. Industry: Your organization is knowledgeable about news and trends. Employees have a viewpoint on the future of the industry and a plan to shape that future.

  2. Product: Your organization has extensive knowledge of your product in the context of how it solves problems for your audience. It’s less about knowing every feature and more about knowing how it fits in the narrative of your audience’s lives.

  3. Organizational: Your organization has a strong point of view about the way it does business, how it treats employees, and how it develops and encourages talent.

Employee advocacy can help build all three. But before we get to the specifics, it’s important to understand…

How Does Thought Leadership Benefit the Business?

The short answer is that buyers prefer to buy from a thought leader in their industry. According to a recent report, 75% of buyers say thought leadership helps them put a vendor on their short list.

Customers are buying more than your solution. They’re buying your organization’s perspective on the industry, its approach to solving their problems, and even its philosophy about doing business. Organizations with established thought leadership are known for all of the above, not just the products they sell.

Thought leadership helps your content stand out among your competitors. But the benefits don’t stop at raising awareness, or even at the initial purchase decision. Companies with established thought leadership can see faster sales cycles, higher close rates, increased customer loyalty, and greater lifetime value.

Developing thought leadership is beneficial for employees as well. Employees who are encouraged to share content and build thought leadership gain greater clarity of the company vision and a greater level of industry knowledge. They also can build their personal brand in tandem with the company brand.  All of this leads to employees who are more knowledgeable, more engaged, and more likely to be good brand ambassadors.

How Does Employee Advocacy Increase Thought Leadership?

Employees in an advocacy program share curated third-party and corporate content. For best results, it’s a good idea to use a platform like LinkedIn Elevate, which helps curate content and promote sharing. Employees are encouraged to add their own thoughts with each share, and to participate in the dialogue each one creates.

In other words, employees are demonstrating they are knowledgeable about the industry and their products, and have a unique point of view about both.  Not only that, your audience sees that your employees are encouraged to share, and are enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

Employee advocacy demonstrates three things to your potential audience:

  1. This company is knowledgeable about the industry

  2. This company employs smart people who know their stuff

  3. This company is transparent and authentic—they speak with individual voices, not just corporate speak

Notice how these three points tie directly to the three types of thought leadership. Employees who advocate for your brand demonstrate industry knowledge, product knowledge, and provide unique insight into your company culture.

Employee advocacy can be the fuel your brand’s thought leadership needs to take flight. See how you can support and empower your employees: Learn more about LinkedIn Elevate.

And for more insight into how to make the most of your content marketing, download The Sophisticated Marketer's Guide to Content Marketing today. 

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