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What is the Future of Thought Leadership Content?

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Diving into the future of thought leadership, we've gathered insights from 20 thought leadership experts, including marketing heads and founders, to forecast the next wave in content trends. From personalizing content for audience engagement to prioritizing well-being in leadership content, these experts unveil the strategies that will shape the landscape.

Personalize Content for Audience Engagement

We believe there will be a continued shift toward the personalization of thought leadership in the coming years. Gone are the days of writing a 30-page white paper and posting it to your website in hopes that people find it. People are now accustomed to receiving content aligned with their interests; thought leadership content is no different.

Personalization drives engagement, relevance, and impact by delivering the right insights to the right audience at the right time. This personalization can come through improved targeting, more focused content, and delivery across different channels to meet audiences where they are.

Jason Jagatic, Head of Global Workplace Thought Leadership, Fidelity Investments

Embrace Micro-Narratives in Content

My role is deeply connected to creating and distributing content that resonates with our audience, which lets me see new trends in thought leadership firsthand. One that might not be on everyone's radar yet but is gaining traction is micro-narratives.

Instead of grand insights, the next big thing is zeroing in on highly specific, relatable stories that illustrate larger trends. These micro-narratives are powerful because they connect on a personal level, making complex ideas more accessible, and offer actionable insights through real-life applications, not just theory.

For example, our recent article on the Hostinger Blog delves into the success story of Softy, a luxury homeware brand. Diana Berulytė, one of the co-founders, shares their journey of optimizing their e-commerce site's load time and its direct impact on sales. Unlike a generic discussion about site performance, this concrete example provides actionable takeaways for our audience.

This approach might seem counterintuitive when thinking about 'leadership' content, which often aims to tackle big ideas. However, the specificity and relatability of these stories can make them stand out in a sea of generalized content. I believe this trend towards micro-narratives will make thought leadership content more engaging and actionable, providing readers with clear paths to implement the insights in their own contexts.

Domantas Gudeliauskas, Head of Organic Marketing, Hostinger

Authenticity and Transparency Prevail

The future of thought-leadership content is increasingly anchored in transparency and authenticity. In an era where content creation is significantly AI-enhanced, fostering a genuine connection with our audience has never been more crucial. True thought leadership springs from the deep well of individual expertise and insights, transcending the capabilities of any learned language model. It's about crafting content that resonates on a human level, echoing the unique voice and profound experiences of its creator.

Dustin Hawley, Content Marketing & Thought Leadership Manager, SecurityScorecard

Capitalize on Capacity Building

During the Great Resignation, a narrative around freedom sparked a life and business redesign for many. However, this was often done without systems or a team. Many find themselves at the edge of their capacity because these timeless business principles didn't make it across the bridge to 'digital CEO land.' I see this as particularly true for women and minority groups, for whom this level of access to freedom and wealth-building has historically been unavailable. Leverage, self-trust, and capacity are all topics that are critical not only for addressing this gap but also for empowering entrepreneurs at every level.

Annelise Worn, Business & Marketing Strategist, Annelise Worn

Tailor Content Across Generations

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all pontification. With five generations now coexisting in the workforce, savvy marketers must craft content that resonates across diverse worldviews and communication preferences.

Boomers want authoritative and more research-backed analysis to inform, while Gen X seeks a more pragmatic, no-nonsense framework for navigating corporate politics. Meanwhile, Millennials thrive on emotionally resonant stories, and Gen Z demands snackable, visually immersive content.

When your ideas strike a chord with decision-makers at every stage of their career journey, that's when you achieve true thought leadership and staying power.

Scott Schaper, President, RSM Marketing

Highlight Purpose-Driven Business

In many conversations with clients, leaders, and high-level executives, it feels like the next trend in thought-leadership content is the idea of being purpose-driven. What's the cause behind your business? What is the 'why' behind your 'what'? Asking these questions is becoming imperative as we expand our business and personal scopes outside of the usual metrics we measure success by—and start to take into account the societal, environmental, and ethical responsibilities and impact we desire to have on the world.

Matthew Sanjari, Founder and Business Coach, PRIME Consulting

Authors Expand Influence with Books

The upcoming trend is the integration of thought-leadership content into the process of becoming self-published authors. For thought leaders aiming to broaden their influence, transforming their expertise into books is a strategic move. In 2024, I expect that we'll see an increase in experts publishing their own works, thereby monetizing their platforms and opening new avenues for opportunity.

Thought leaders gain greater credibility when they can showcase their knowledge and problem-solving abilities in a tangible form. I recommend incorporating this approach into your 2024 business strategy. As a thought leader who is also a published author, your concepts set benchmarks for success in others' endeavors. By providing solutions in your books, you establish yourself as an authority in that area. If your book addresses a widely relevant problem, your insights will be regarded as the standard by the broader market.

Paw Vej, Chief Operating Officer, Financer.com

Personalized AI Avatars for Insights

With the growth in AI tools, it wouldn't be ridiculous to see personalized AI avatars—trained on your past work and books—provide bespoke insights to users.

We're already seeing this with tools like Character.AI, but it's still limited to major figures. Expect a similar app revolution for influencers to spend aggressively in the space.

Justin Abrams, Founder & CEO, Aryo Consulting Group

UGC and Online Spaces Rise

As a thought leader in the retail space, I would say we are moving away from the Gary Vee model of thought leaders taking the stage and sharing clips across social media. Instead, we will see a rise in UGC created by experts in the field who are tangibly trying out products and services and providing their honest, unbiased feedback, which can be shared by the company itself. We've already started to see this; additionally, we will continue to see thought leadership moving from physical spaces to online spaces.

Post-Covid, I've personally had outreach from companies interested in live streams, reviews, and online event content. For example, at one of my most recent speaking gigs, I was paid $3,000 USD to speak for 15 minutes via a prerecorded video that they would livestream for their event.

Jeanel Alvarado, Retail Expert, Retail Boss

Direct Engagement Overcomes AI Content

The proliferation of low-quality AI-generated content offers brands some powerful opportunities around thought leadership. Audiences will increasingly shun the mass of 'Frankencontent' that is crowding out so many search results. As a result, they will be more willing to go directly to the source of fresh ideas and innovative thinking. This will be a mix of established publishers, respected sites, and leading brands.

What we'll see is more brands leaning into video, using named spokespeople, as this is hard to fake and difficult to copy. They'll look to be more human, less polished, and more authentic. In written content, we'll see greater use of research but tied to strong opinions about what it actually means. And we'll see more brands developing content that bridges the gap between big ideas and actionable frameworks for making it work in the real world.

Jason Ball, Founder, Considered Content

Maximize Short-Form Video Content

The next big trend in thought leadership content isn't really new; it's just continuing to grow, and it's all about optimizing and maximizing short-form video content. Every social media platform is finding new ways to integrate short-form video content. YouTube Shorts is the obvious big, newer entry in this space, but even platforms known for 8-hour-plus live streams, like Twitch, are starting to use formats like stories.

The important part of this for thought leadership content is to be able to leverage it in a way that doesn't eat up your entire schedule trying to get your content out there. Take it from the top and make sure your content is easy to use and edit so you can share bits of it across different platforms, whether that's TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram Stories, or Snapchat.

For example, if you're making a podcast, think about recording it on video or livestreaming it. If you start there, then you can use the video as long-form content on YouTube. You can chop that up into clips and shorts for TikTok or grab stills and use them on Instagram. You can use the audio for podcast content, and you can transcribe the content and transform it into written content.

Approaching your content from a top-down perspective so that it can be used and disseminated across as many different mediums and platforms as possible in an efficient manner already is and will continue to be the biggest trend for growing your audience and expanding your reach as a thought leader.

Travis Schreiber, Director of Operations, Erase Technologies

Crowdsourcing Ideas Empowers Communities

Crowdsourcing ideas and leveraging the 'power of many' will be the next big trend. According to the Grand View Research 'Personal Development: Market Analysis 2018-2030' report, the biggest growth area by 2030 will be in the space of e-platforms, followed by personal coaching and training. Most thought leaders have created their own digital apps, featuring one-stop shops in their niche area and powered by AI. I see that space growing in the future, along with more collaboration and co-creation between thought leaders, industry experts, and audiences themselves.

Lubna Forzley, Founder & CEO, Stories

Ethical AI and Blockchain Transform Industries

Ethical AI and data privacy are definitely going to be huge topics moving forward. As AI continues to advance rapidly, we're seeing more concerns arise around issues such as algorithmic bias, lack of transparency, accountability issues, and the potential for AI to be misused or cause unintended negative impacts.

I'm really passionate about advocating for the responsible development and deployment of AI systems that genuinely respect human rights, individual privacy, and ethical principles. We need to establish clear guidelines and frameworks to ensure AI is being built and used in ways that truly benefit society as a whole, without compromising privacy or perpetuating discrimination.

On another note, I firmly believe blockchain technology and decentralization are going to shake up countless industries in significant ways. Beyond just cryptocurrencies, blockchain has immense potential to transform supply chains, voting systems, digital identity management, and more. The decentralized, transparent nature of blockchain can foster greater trust, security, and efficiency across these areas.

We're just scratching the surface of both AI ethics and blockchain use cases.

Martin Kanaan, Head of Marketing and Business Development, Makolab

Thought Leaders Offer Extensive Free Insights

I think we're going to see thought leaders have to 'give away the farm' now more than ever, particularly for 'busy' industries where there are more and more voices adding to the noise.

For example, thought leaders on platforms like LinkedIn may have to give away long-form guides for free and provide extensive insights as a means of gaining trust, purely based on how new voices are approaching trust-building (which often is related to giving away as much information as they can and being a truly transparent voice for their sector).

Gary Warner, Marketing Manager, Joloda Hydaroll

Emphasize Actionable Strategies for Challenges

I believe that the next big trend in thought leadership will be more emphasis on actionable strategies for solving specific challenges. While it's great to share general ideas about leadership or marketing, I think more people today are looking for practical advice that they can implement in their own lives and businesses. Put another way, thought leadership will become more customized to particular problems faced by entrepreneurs, managers, and others. For example, providing solutions for SEO, social media, optimizing videos, mobile marketing, lead generation, e-commerce, and countless other specialties.

Kalin Kassabov, Founder & CEO, ProTexting

Foster Vibrant Dialogues, Not Monologues

The next big trend in thought-leadership content is the shift towards fostering vibrant dialogues rather than traditional monologues. While mediums like white papers and blogs remain valuable, audiences now crave more engaging and immersive experiences. This revolves around 'Humanizing the Message' – the need to connect on a personal level with your audience by infusing narratives with personality, anecdotes, and humor to transform the content from informative to memorable.

By focusing on facilitating discussions and fostering true engagement by leveraging online forums, social media, and specialized communities, one can cultivate meaningful connections with the audience. Additionally, collaborating with industry peers through webinars, articles, and podcast formats can amplify the impact of content and broaden their reach. Ultimately, this trend is all about embracing interactivity, human connection, and collaboration to create impactful and memorable experiences for the audience.

Barkha Rochwani, Leadership Development and L&D Consultant, NamanHR

Immersive Experiences Revolutionize Engagement

The next big trend in thought leadership content is all about embracing immersive and interactive experiences that push the boundaries of traditional formats. With emerging technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality becoming more accessible, thought leadership managers can revolutionize how they engage with their audiences.

This trend can transform static articles and videos into dynamic experiences that captivate and inspire. AR/VR experiences can transport viewers to new worlds and to interactive webinars that foster real-time engagement. The future of thought leadership is about using AR/VR and other technologies to break down barriers and forge deeper connections with your audience.

Habiba Elfass, Marketing Coordinator, Achievable

Creative Storytelling Builds Solid Communities

Creative storytelling will be a strong trend in thought leadership for 2024 and the most effective way to grow a solid community. This will naturally result in an increase in transparency, as founders build in public (on socials), honestly sharing their struggles and learnings, showing up as human and relatable, and articulating the values behind their products and services.

Samia Liamani, Founder, Good Faces Agency

Building Community Amplifies Thought Leadership

The next big trend in thought-leadership content is building a community. Here, you create a platform for like-minded people to interact with one another and share their experiences. This serves two purposes. First, by creating a community, you get to leverage thought leadership and connect with the intended audience at a personal level. It strengthens your bond with the people and allows you to interact with them in an overall better way. Second, you amplify the reach of your content, making it possible for you to cast a wider net and generate more traction for your brand.

Stephanie Wells, Co-founder and CTO, Formidable Forms

Prioritize Well-Being in Leadership Content

With the changing professional landscape, the next big trend in thought-leadership content could revolve around prioritizing employee well-being and mental health. With workplace burnout becoming a significant concern, especially in demanding sectors like the public sector, thought-leadership managers may focus on producing content that addresses this issue. Strategies for mitigating burnout, fostering work-life balance, and promoting employee engagement could dominate thought-leadership discussions in the near future. Additionally, content emphasizing the importance of flexible work policies, remote work arrangements, and supportive company cultures may emerge as key themes in thought-leadership initiatives. By addressing pressing challenges in the workplace and offering innovative solutions, thought-leadership content can stay relevant and impactful in guiding organizations toward sustainable success.

Michael Hurwitz, CEO and Co-Founder, Careers in Government