Are You a Thought Leader or a Topic Authority?

Both thought leaders and topic authorities are revered and respected, but do you know which title best represents you?

So, you want to be a thought leader?

It’s a common aspiration for CEOs and business figureheads to be seen as thought leaders; innovative people on the cutting edge of developments in their industry.

Thought leaders are revered in their field, seen as the drivers for change and progress. In turn, this places their business in a strong position, with their owner’s reputation becoming a deciding factor for potential clients considering hiring their services or buying their products.

Yet, being a thought leader isn’t for everyone. In fact, very few people fit the criteria of a genuine thought leader. That doesn’t mean you can’t be revered for your knowledge; it just means you need to reconsider how you position yourself.

Less well-known but equally respected, the position of topic authority is far more applicable for most business leaders.

Allow us to explain …

What exactly is a thought leader?

A thought leader is an industry expert who is renowned for being a driver for progress within their field of expertise. They are not only considered a go-to specialist but also a trusted source that inspires people and businesses with innovative ideas, turns ideas into reality, and replicates their success throughout their career.

Over time, thought leaders establish a dedicated group of friends, fans, and followers that ranges from personal contacts to people they’ve never met. This network empowers them to replicate and scale their ideas into sustainable, noticeable change, not just in one company but across an industry, niche, or even an entire ecosystem.

If you’re into examples, Gary Vaynerchuk is thought leadership personified. If you’ve not heard of him, maybe you’ll know him as Gary Vee, or Gary V. If you’ve still not heard of him, we recommend familiarising yourself.

How do you become a thought leader?

In the modern, digital world, becoming a thought leader — or being perceived as one, at least — is much easier than it once was. Social media gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge and wisdom with normal people, and potential clients, at the click of a button. Through your accounts, you can develop your profile and ease yourself into the public’s consciousness. Still, you need evidence of your expertise to do so.

Thought leaders almost always begin with a foundation of business success, proving their ability to build and operate a profitable company. From there, however, it’s all about communicating your understanding and ability.

White papers are a common exhibition of thought leadership. They are reports or guides produced to detail complex industry issues or subjects and offer the reader the insights and perspectives of an expert, the writer. You can use white papers to promote new ideas, or ideas which go against consensus, to demonstrate your ingenuity.

If you think you fit the mould of a thought leader and want to get started on producing communications that display your innovation and expertise, get in touch with the Prize team today.

If you wouldn’t categorise yourself as a thought leader, fear not, as you may find ‘topic authority’ to be a more apt description.

What exactly is a topic authority?

If you’re familiar with search engine optimisation (SEO) and keep up with the latest developments in the field, it’s likely that you’ve heard the term ‘topical authority’ before.

It’s been popularised as the concept of establishing a person or a business as an expert or authority of an entire topic, in contrast to a single keyword. In much the same way, becoming a topic authority outside the world of SEO involves building a reputation as a leading expert in your specialist topic.

As a topic authority, you will be looked to for information and answers about your area of expertise and become synonymous with that topic. As a result, when people require a product or service provided by you or your company, you will be their first port of call.

An example of a topic authority, who is also likely to be an expert in topical authority, is digital marketing specialist, Neil Patel.

How do you become a topic authority?

In much the same way as becoming a thought leader; demonstrate your expertise in your specialist area.

Through a variety of communications, you can establish yourself as a true expert in your field. You should: Talk regularly about the subject; be generous with your knowledge and share information with others; use social media to speak about the latest news and developments relating to your industry; and offer your time to media outlets looking for the opinion of an expert.

If you’d like to be seen as a topic authority and reap the rewards of being revered by the potential customers, we’d love to help, so get in touch with the Prize Content team today.

How do you know which position is right for you?

The primary difference between being a thought leader and a topic authority is the creation of new, innovative ideas.

If you find yourself regularly challenging industry norms or coming up with new, innovative ways to solve problems, then thought leadership might be for you.

If you know everything there is to know about your area of expertise, and people regularly turn to you for advice or information, then you are already a topic authority, you just need to make sure people know!

You must also consider your audience when deciding how to position yourself. Are they looking for groundbreaking innovation, which may come at a risk, or do they want an expert in the tried and tested, someone they can rely on for honest, accurate advice.

Strike a balance between the needs and wants of your audience and your capabilities, and you’ll set your company up to succeed.

Whichever position best fits you, your audience, and your company, Prize Content is the team to turn to as you establish your reputation. We’ll work with you to produce a series of communications that raise awareness of your expertise and establish you as an industry leader. As a result, you’ll become the first choice for customers who need your product or service.

To discuss exactly how we’ll get your name out there, contact the Prize Content team today.

Published by Dan Grey

Content Writer

Producing quality content and effective communications that help SMEs thrive.