Meta’s annual audience research for close to three years has been quoting consumers’ shifting approach to choosing their brands. Values, ethos, character and social responsibility are what they look for, not purely great deals and hyper-convenience.
Which is where the distinction between a brand channel and a leader’s channel comes in.
Today’s audience expects brands to say politically correct things. Individuals, however, are seen as more believable, easier to call out on lies, and more real. Which means a smart leader should be leading from the front when it comes to building their organization’s perception.
No organization runs on its own steam – it takes a trickle-down effect of thoughts, goals, and values that builds any company – and therefore, any brand. And your audience knows this.
So does that mean C-Suite now has to become the new billboard? Absolutely not! The nuances of thought leadership have grown to include much more subtle elements than simply talking about your company’s achievements.
Here’s some elements you can add to your comms to get started:
Don’t think about “value for money” or “cutting edge” as just product features. Leadership can build 30000 feet visions. So why not talk about speaking to the “aam aadmi” and creating for their families? Or truly translating the developments in technology into tangible human impact? You say the same things, but they translate into vision statements!
Just because you make one LinkedIn post about impacting the aam aadmi’s life does not mean you’re done on that front. Are there articles in the news that talk about concerns from rising prices or economic pain points? Connect those to statements about how brands should be building to create value rather than just demanding value. Is someone else talking about the shift in consumer behaviour? Talk about advocating agility into the DNA of consumer facing brands to align with consumer shifts and market shifts.
What you’re doing is, you’re showcasing vision, brand connection to the consumer, and real-time value focus for your brand in short content pieces!
Let’s be honest, all work and no play is no fun, and we know that. So humanize your leaders – let them talk about how they enjoyed a musical piece or a movie or a vacation with family. Let them showcase their personal values in a way that translates to their management style. How about a holiday season post that categorically states that they’re not available for the next few days because disconnecting and being with family is critical and they will not accept any of their teams being available either?
This does not necessarily mean their business acumen. Can they explain complex concepts in minutes? Are they supremely charismatic and great talkers? Do they inspire teams with just a few sentences?
Leverage their best and most impressive qualities to build a great persona, or to inform the format of the content. I once wrote LinkedIn content for a Marvel fan, and we connected Black Panther to IoT for an article – it was a very interesting read, and a great topical connect!
And this is not confined to just your CEOs. Anyone in a position of leadership can build this conversation relevant to their designation. The game is about using every platform for the right reasons, and ensuring you’re saying the right things.
Leaving you with a bonus tip as a conclusion.
Understand what is important to the audience, don’t try to be “anti-mainstream” for the heck of it. Enough leaders have been canceled recently for calling out the wrong things and showcasing toxicity. Even though we’re talking about organizational leaders, it’s valuable to have multiple perspectives to review content and statements before going live to ensure any potential red flags are tackled in a closed environment.
Thought leadership isn’t just about making sure your voice is loudest, or about being ‘new’ or edgy or going viral. It’s about demonstrating how your brand’s vision translates into tangible actions and impact. You don’t have to focus on a new impressive thought every time the brand posts something, or the leaders have a moment in the spotlight. It’s all about sustainable, purpose-driven action… and showing that to the world.
Need some help? These tips are a great way to get started, but you can always reach out to us for a bespoke strategy to tell your audience your story.
Aashna Iyer is a strategist with 10 years of experience, and a passion for B2B & tech marketing and communications, food, and felines.