If you’re looking to make a difference at your association, thought leadership is crucial. A study conducted by Edelman and Linkedin reported 65% of those surveyed said thought leadership content improved their perception of an organization. Well-researched and thoughtfully written content has the power to build association credibility, organization brand awareness, and even attract new members.
As an association leader, you already have a platform for industry transformation. But how can you take the next step to build yourself into a respected thought leader? Follow our guide to develop quality thought leadership content at your association to reach both members and non-members within your industry.
The benefits of developing thought leadership content
When you take steps to position yourself as an industry thought leader, you benefit your association in the following ways:
1. Build association credibility. According to the Edelman and Linkedin study, 64% of respondents said thought leadership content was a more trustworthy means of determining an organization’s expertise than marketing materials or product sheets.
When you develop quality content, you become a spokesperson for your association members, engaging them through relevant research, opinion articles, case studies, and industry analysis. As a result of your thought leadership efforts, you’ll see an increase in member engagement and retention. When members trust your industry knowledge, they’ll choose to stay connected in association conferences, networking events, and training opportunities.
2. Increase organization awareness. When you take the time to develop thought leadership content within your industry, your association will have the power to attract new members. According to the Community Brands Association Trends Study, members in their mid and late career identified industry information as their top priority. For early careerists, industry information ranked in their top five member priorities.
When you invest in well-researched thought leadership content, your association will see a definite payoff. Thought leadership material allows you to begin a conversation with your unique industry insights. Your audience will digest the content and want more, inspiring them to connect with your association by attending conferences, professional development courses, and eventually electing to become a member.
3. Empower staff to be thought leaders. Being an association thought leader can open the door to the whole staff becoming thought leaders. Your staff interacts daily with members, often gaining precious insight into their experiences. Have ongoing conversations with staff about the member experience and how to best represent their voice in thought leadership content to make materials insightful, engaging, and authentic. Watch as this open conversation with staff transforms the culture at your organization.
As you seek to empower your staff as thought leaders, try highlighting various staff perspectives on your social media or on your website to make your association feel human. Hearing from a diverse group of voices can strengthen your brand credibility, proving attractive to members and non-members alike.
How to implement thought leadership content at your association
As you strive to be a thought leader in your industry, it’s vital to develop quality content for your association. Do so by following these steps:
1. Develop insightful thought leadership content. To generate well-researched and thoughtfully written content for your association, take the time to conduct your own research to give your thought leadership content unique insights. Consider surveying your members, non-members, or a sample of leaders in your industry to gain valuable qualitative and quantitative data.
After you receive your research results and begin to unpack the data, you’ll notice various narratives and will easily be able to present the data in different content pieces. To set your thought leadership content apart from that of other associations, use your research to back up your insights. Ensure you develop a variety of pieces for your association like whitepapers, blogs, videos, podcasts, or webinars. Also, consider contributing to guest blogs in your industry.
As your association conducts various research studies, consider hosting an unveiling event to present the most important results. Doing so will create buzz about your organization and let you inform members and non-members about the data.
2. Speak at events and conferences. To further your reach as a thought leader, you’ll want to present key industry insights at meetings. Whether the conference is virtual or in-person, sharing quality thought leadership content will advance your association within the industry, solidifying organization awareness and increasing association credibility.
3. Get active on social media. To become a thought leader on social media, you’ll want to consider your voice on each platform. Next, you’ll need to commit to building your network and regularly engage with your followers. Jump in on conversations with professionals in your industry and provide your insights.
Additionally, if you see eye-opening material posted by a colleague, ensure you elevate their voice by linking the content across your social networks. Use your platform to share your expertise and thought leadership content, and soon followers will look to you as an industry authority.
TECH TIP: Expand your reach by being a thought leader in your association’s virtual community. Use Nimble Communities to connect with your members, share quality content, and begin the conversation.
How member sentiments and industry changes are making way for associations to better serve their membership – even in uncertain times.