Media influencers have taken the marketing world by storm. Bloggers, podcasters, and YouTubers have built niche markets and strong personal brands with loyal followings that extend into the business community. Many universities use YouTube personalities or well-known bloggers and their social media marketing strategies as case studies in class. Why? These influencers have used social media marketing to cultivate their brand and continue to build their audience.  

If you are a media influencer or a business leader with an established personal brand, what is the next step to move the "business of you" forward? Consider more deliberately pursuing thought leadership.  Being seen as a thought leader means you lead your industry by establishing yourself as an expert in your field.  These steps will help you further your personal brand and pave the way to being seen as a bonafide expert in your field.

Sponsored content

Sponsored content is an excellent way to start monetizing your content. It takes the form of native advertising on your page that doesn't detract from the user experience. If you are using sponsored content, it is key to be ethical and clearly disclose that fact. If you are being paid to review a product or service, be 100% truthful. If it is not something you would ever use again, don't review it. It is better in the long run to remain honest and truthful to your followers than to make some extra cash on a product you wouldn't normally recommend.

Speaking engagements

Booking speaking engagements is an excellent way to build your platform and establish yourself as a thought leader. Speaking engagements help build your audience, establish the leadership you have in your field, build relationships, and share your message in a more personal way. Research conferences, conventions, keynotes, and other engagements related to your field. Study the core themes and submit multiple ideas for proposals. It's smart to build relationships with the meeting planners who help secure resources for conferences, and start early because the decisions on speakers are often made six months to a year before the event.

Writing a book

If you've been diligent about building your personal brand, you probably already have a wealth of content and a loyal audience. Writing a book is a great next step to establish yourself as a thought leader. It's important to zero in on your message and audience from the very beginning. Are there certain topics you speak or write about that always drum up engagement or a large conversion rate? A book gives you the room to dig deeper into these ideas, and with strong distribution, it also provides a tool to extend your brand to a new audience through the retail market. If you're unsure about whether or not you have enough to say on your subject to support a book, take a stab at an outline first to see where some of the structural gaps may be.

These tools will help you continue to build your connection with your existing audience while also reaching a new network of people. You have the ideas, audience, and content to continue to establish yourself as a successful media influencer, but establishing yourself as a thought leader can take your entrepreneurship to the next level.

Published on: Dec 21, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.