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The Content Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership

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The Content Marketer's Guide to Thought Leadership

Oprah. Dave Ramsey. Seth Godin.

Besides being highly successful in business, these people are considered thought-leaders – or experts — in their industry.

Similarly, as a marketer, being an expert in your field is crucial. To do that, you have to drive traffic to your site, nurture and convert leads, and build brand authority and reputation. That’s where thought leadership comes in.

Below, let’s review what thought leadership is and how to use it in your marketing strategy. We’ll also explore the best examples and types of content you can consider creating.

A person or company might use thought leadership as a content marketing strategy because providing value to your audience demonstrates your brand helpfulness. Then, down the road when someone is seeking a product or service like the ones you provide, they’ll turn to you first.

If you’re good at it, you’ll increase awareness among your target audience, generate more leads, improve social proof, and boost engagement online.

For instance, Brian Dean is a thought leader in the SEO space. By regularly posting content related to his expertise, he’s proven his value as a content marketer worth following. More on him later.

But first, how do you incorporate thought leadership into your marketing strategy? Here, we’ll analyze the top thought leadership marketing tips.

Thought Leadership Marketing

Now that we’ve covered what thought leadership is, let’s review some best practices before you get started.

1. Know your audience and continue learning about them.

Knowing your audience is the key to succeeding with any marketing strategy, and thought leadership is no different. It starts with your buyer persona. What motivates or inspires your audience? What are their pain points? What questions are they asking? 

To figure this out, look on social media or conduct customer interviews. Once you know these things, you can begin answering their questions with thought leadership content.

Additionally, it’s important to continuously check-in and reevaluate your buyer personas. Are your customer’s questions changing over time? Do their pain points look the same today as they did when you first began as a company? People evolve, and so will your audience.

2. Be active on social media.

Social media is an effective vehicle to build your brand and authority. First, social media keeps you active and engaged with your community. Second, you can use it to comment on industry news and ensure your brand voice is heard in conversations regarding relevant industry trends.

Plus, you can use social media to promote thought leadership content in an organic way without seeming too promotional.

3. Publish a variety of content — in a variety of places.

Creating thought leadership content doesn’t just mean posting on your blog. It also means being active on social media, guest posting on other sites, and speaking at events or on podcasts.

It’s important to mix it up with owned media versus other media sources. Consider having a combination of written, video, and audio content, like podcasts.

Ultimately, thought leadership content should show up wherever your audience is.

4. Analyze what your competitors are doing.

If your competitors are creating thought leadership content, analyze what they’re doing. How often are they posting? Where are they posting? Don’t be afraid to get inspiration from your competitors.

On the flip side, you can also look and see what your competitors are missing. Perhaps you can fill in gaps in the content they’re putting out.

5. Create valuable content.

In order to truly succeed at thought leadership, you need to create valuable content. Show that you’re an expert in the industry by speaking intelligently on specific issues in the industry. It’s important to dig deep and show off your expertise in one subject area at a time.

For instance, it can be tricky to prove yourself an expert in marketing as a whole (at least in the beginning), but you can have the director of SEO at your company create content for your blog or LinkedIn to demonstrate your brand’s specific expertise in SEO.

6. Be genuine.

We can’t say it enough, but being too promotional doesn’t connect with your audience. In fact, it’ll probably annoy them. You should produce content that is genuine and authentic to your brand.

Additionally, you want to make sure your content makes sense to everyone, offers perspective, and is supported with market-backed research that’ll help inform your audience’s opinions or decisions. Using examples, facts, and quotes will go a long way.

Once you’ve thought about adding thought leadership to your marketing strategy, it’s time to dive into the type of content you’ll want to create.

So, how do you come up with content ideas to talk or write about?

To start, you could do some keyword research to see what people are asking. This goes back to understanding your audience so you can create content that answers their questions.

You’ll also want to keep in mind industry news. Is there anything pressing going on? Are there any issues being discussed in your field? If so, address those and forecast the future of your industry.

Additionally, you can’t go wrong with articles using formats like tips, how-tos, or best practices. You’ll just want to ensure you’re producing long-form, educational content that your audience wants to read.

After you’ve considered the format and type of content you want to produce, it’s time to dive deep into the strategy.

Thought Leadership Strategy

Before you jump into thought leadership, you’ll want to have a strategy and a game plan for how you’re going to move forward.

Here’s a simple step-by-step process you can use as a starting point:

Step 1: Set a SMART goal. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals. Before you begin working on thought leadership, have a goal for what you want to get out of it, whether it’s increased traffic to your site or lead generation.

Step 2: Brainstorm content ideas. Think about your personas. Is your content focused and strategic to what they want to read or watch? What are they searching for and asking on social media? Answer these questions during your brainstorming session.

Step 3: Analyze competitors. To kickstart more brainstorming ideas, answer questions like, “Who is my audience currently going to for answers?” Again, you’ll want to fill in the gaps in their content and talk about what they aren’t.

Step 4: Create and distribute content. Once you’ve decided what content to create, make sure you have a point of view and personality. Your content should be easy to consume and easy to share.

Step 5: Measure results. Track your results in order to see if your thought leadership content has been effective. Use your SMART goals to determine what metrics you’re tracking.

1. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey, former talk show host and media mogul, spoke at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism commencement ceremony in 2018.

She took some of her time to speak on the role of journalists today. She said, “You will become the new editorial gatekeepers, an ambitious army of truth-seekers who will arm yourselves with the intelligence, with the insight and with the facts necessary to strike down deceit. You’re in a position to keep all of those who now disparage real news — you all are the ones who are going to keep those people in check.”

Throughout the years, Oprah has earned her title as a media expert. Her advice and opinions on the industry are considered thought leadership because of her expertise, which she spent her career cultivating.

2. Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is a personal finance expert. He has a degree in Finance and Real Estate, and is known for counseling people on paying off their debts. Ramsey became a thought leader when he continued to produce content in the industry, including hosting a radio show, writing books, and podcasting.

One of the best examples of his thought leadership content is his podcast, the Ramsey Show. He posts episodes almost every day on topics such as personal finance, leadership, and career growth.”

You can also follow his Twitter where he shares bite-size financial tips and advice. 

Dave Ramsey TwitterImage Source

3. Seth Godin

Seth Godin is an entrepreneur turned business mogul. He’s written books addressing marketing, advertising, and leadership. He’s also in the Marketing Hall of Fame, launched by the American Marketing Association of New York. He became a thought leader because of the successful content he delivers, including speaking engagements, books, and his blog.

Let’s do a deep-dive on his blog. Here, he regularly writes about his areas of expertise, including marketing and business. For instance, in this blog post, he writes about the difference between reassurance and encouragement. He says, “Reassurance always runs out. Reassurance implies that the only reason to go forward is because it’s certain to work. Encouragement means that someone sees us, understands us and believes in us. Even (especially) when things don’t turn out as we hoped.

4. Marie Forleo

Marie Forleo is a life coach, speaker, author, and host of her own YouTube channel She is known for creating and selling online courses, especially in regards to entrepreneurship. She became a thought leader because of her expertise in business coaching.

One example of thought leadership content she’s produced is this video on her YouTube channel:

Here, she speaks on her expertise in content by discussing how to find fresh content ideas every week. She delivers three strategies her viewers can use to generate content ideas for their blog, podcast, or videos.

5. Brian Dean

Brian Dean is an SEO expert. After he created a successful online business, he decided to create a blog – Backlinko — that chronicled the lessons he learned along the way. Essentially, he created a thought leadership site meant to boost his credibility.

He uses long-form content that is educational and valuable to his audience, such as “17 Untapped Ways to Find New Content Ideas.”

Additionally, he also uses social media to share articles and comment on SEO trends.

Brian Dean TwitterImage Source

6. Sallie L. Krawcheck

Sallie L. Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, a digital advisor for women, is an expert in finance. Before she started her company, she was the president of Global Wealth and Investment Management at Bank of America.

Throughout her career she’s become a thought leader because she is widely published both on social media and traditional media such as television shows.

One example of thought leadership content she’s created is on LinkedIn. Here, Krawcheck proves her expertise in finance by publishing articles and organic posts about finance. This boosts her company’s value and brand awareness.

Thought leadership is a great strategy that every content marketer should be thinking about, particularly since it allows you to prove expertise in your industry while simultaneously expanding your reach and helping your readers and customers grow.

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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