While the exact definitions may vary, thought leaders are generally people with considerable expertise in a field that share insights and perspectives on their industry. These thought leaders use their expertise to build a platform and, in turn, gain further credibility through the reach of that platform and the ideas they share.
Law firms and lawyers can integrate thought leadership into their marketing strategy by presenting high-quality, relevant content about practice areas and issues in which they are subject matter experts.
Thought leadership is more than just explaining the law on a topic. Instead, people look to thought leaders to gain a better understanding of a current event or popular issue. They also look to thought leaders for engaging personal insights and unique opinions or perspectives.
Interested in learning more about how prioritizing thought leadership can help your law firm grow? This is the post for you!
Why Prioritize Thought Leadership
Thought leaders are authorities in their field. To the public, they are a reliable source of information and insights into often complex topics. They have credibility. They are seen as experts – well-versed in their industry.
When lawyers add thought leadership into their legal marketing strategies, they are working to achieve this perceived status as leading field experts. Why?
Thought leaders build a platform for speaking out. This often occurs through social media and blogging. As thought leaders gain prominence, they may find more speaking engagements on their calendars or appearances on podcasts and television. They may be contacted for media quotes. These nods increase visibility and also add up to create greater visibility for the entire firm.
Lawyers who are also thought leaders have more opportunities to connect with clients. These lawyers are not only building their brands and increasing brand authority for the future but they are reinforcing their expertise and authority with current clients too!
As lawyers continue to achieve recognition as thought leaders, they may also see additional benefits. For instance, consider the case of the fictional lawyer Alaina Wynne.
Attorney Wynne is a relatively young lawyer who has built a large social media following. She uses her social platform to speak out about current constitutional law issues and offer commentary on new decisions handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. People are starting to know her name and recognize her for her insights. More and more people recognize Alaina and consider her to be well informed on the law.
Through this platform, Alaina has also started to consistently receive requests for media comments and appearances. Thought leadership is paying off for her! Potential clients contact her because they heard her name on the news and often refer to her musings online during intake calls. Current clients are confident in her abilities.
Soon, the journalists following Alaina on social media are linking her blog posts to their news articles for additional analysis on current events in the law and politics. These links are coming from high-quality publications and are consistently increasing Alaina’s blog traffic. People share these articles and even Alaina’s insights on their own!
Now, Alaina’s reach has increased, and she is starting to see SEO (Search Engine Optimization) returns because of her work as a thought leader. Her website is ranking higher on Google. She is seeing an uptick in traffic there too and receiving more and more potential client leads.
Alaina Wynne may not be a real lawyer, but this hypothetical illustrates just how powerful thought leadership can be! Thought leadership in and of itself had benefits for improving her brand and authority. Then, her increased prominence as a thought leader trickled into improved marketing for her practice too!
This is why thought leadership matters. It is not an overnight process and certainly takes time. However, becoming a thought leader offers numerous benefits for your practice’s growth potential!
Tips for Building a Platform for Thought Leadership
Rome was not built in a day. Thought leaders are not born. Instead, becoming a thought leader takes time and dedication to building your following and showcasing your professional brand voice. Here are some tips for getting started:
- Understand Your Target Audiences: Know who you are trying to reach. In the case of thought leadership, this generally means prioritizing multiple audiences. Understand your ideal clients. Understand the type of content they seek and the platforms they are on. However, do not limit your audience just to your clients. Instead, consider others that you want to regard you as a thought leader. For instance, you probably want to reach your colleagues. You also want to reach journalists and even other thought leaders that can help nudge the conversation along.
- Select Your Goals: Be sure you have defined, measurable goals for assessing your thought leadership strategy. By having well-defined goals and targets that help you measure progress, you can better understand where your strategy may require adjustments.
- Create Content: A strong platform may be the foundation of thought leadership over time, but content creation is the chief cornerstone. You need strong, relevant content to build your platform. Once your platform is built, you will need high-quality content to keep the conversation going and continue engaging with your target audience(s). Your content can be blog posts, articles on your website, and social media posts to start. Over time, you likely want to expand your content to include formal white papers, webinars, videos, e-books, and more! Some of this can be free. Some of it may be behind a wall that requires a fee or simply an email address input so you can build your list.Regardless of how you choose to share and distribute your content, you will want to ensure you have timely pieces of quality content that keep your audience wanting more.
- Be Active on Social Platforms: Social media is one of the best DIY thought leadership tools. It offers free opportunities to expand your reach and connect with more people. By being active on various social platforms, you encourage others to interact with you also. Being a part of the conversation improves your overall visibility and helps you build your thought leadership platform.
- Expand Your Distribution Channels: Social media is the DIY platform that helps you launch your thought leadership campaign. However, you will likely want to move beyond traditional social networks. You should distribute your content on your own website and blog. You may also want to explore guest posting or other similar opportunities. You can use email lists, legal publications, and traditional media to your advantage. Ideally, you will create a strong mix of internal and external channels that help you regularly expand your content’s reach to new people.
- Be Authentic: It may sound like a cliché but remaining true to yourself is one of the best ways to effectively position yourself as a thought leader. Authenticity builds better relationships with your audience, makes your brand more memorable, and ultimately helps you stand out in a crowded space.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
Thought leadership can help you build your brand, expand your online visibility, and ultimately help you grow your practice. It helps you position yourself as a true expert in the field while reaching new clients. It may take time to become a thought leader but it is ultimately a great way to help your firm breathe new life into your legal marketing strategy.