Using content to build your business online is smart. You can build relationships, solve problems and amass a loyal following for the product or service you provide. You likely have a blog article, on which you publish great content. But, exactly what kind of content are you sharing with the world?

If you’re looking for content ideas, you’ve probably heard the term “thought leadership.” Becoming a thought leader and influencing the decisions of people in your industry are invaluable business advantages.

Many businesses think they’re doing “thought leadership” when they’re actually just blogging, or vice versa. If you’re a little confused about which is which, that’s okay, because they share attributes. They also have important distinctions.

We see how people get confused. Over time, blogging has become a much more research-intensive enterprise in which blog articles become more like news articles. At the same time, thought leadership can contain strong opinions from trusted sources. It’s important, however, to distinguish between the two, because each plays a key role in content strategy.

Basically, one grabs attention, the other keeps it.

It’s a blog article if:

It’s mostly your opinion. If you want to opine for a few hundred words, that’s okay, but that’s not necessarily thought leadership.

The piece is shorter and more topical. Real thought leadership is rarely, if ever, accomplished in just one article.

Your goal is to generate awareness. If you’re trying to grab attention quickly, chances are you’re casting a large audience net and just want people to turn and look, whereas thought leadership aims at specific types of customers and gives them in-depth knowledge.

You’re trying to find new readers at the top of the funnel. A typical blog article garners the attention of new readers on your blog.

It’s built around an SEO and keyword strategy. The need is more immediate with a shorter post that aims to raise awareness.

You’re producing at least one per week. Blog-article frequency is high, thought leadership is deployed much less frequently.

It’s thought leadership if:

It’s much longer and produced much less frequently. Those articles provide a great amount of in-depth knowledge that needs to be thoroughly researched. As a result, they require a significant amount of time to put together. Can a short blog article provoke thought? Of course. Just look at Seth Godin’s blog. But, those longer pieces provoke discussion and provide nuggets of detail that help open doors to knowledge.

It’s the perspective of an executive. When those articles contain opinions, they should come from seasoned leaders in your organization who are able to back up their insights with meaningful experiences.

It includes a lot of credibility-building detail. Thoroughly researched industry trends and important data take time to gather. Put together, however, they paint a larger picture of your company’s position in the industry, and lend credibility to it.

We hope you’re now able to distinguish between those two content types. Knowing the difference can help you build a content strategy that increases and retains business.

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