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In today’s market, business is conducted in a hyper-competitive environment. It’s crucial that professional services and technology firms set themselves apart through business development. Being viewed as a thought leader is one key differentiator between successful firms and their competitors. Thought leadership is the lifeblood of a professional services and technology company’s marketing strategy. Your goal is to be trusted as an advisor by clients and prospects. True thought leadership in your field is one way to build that trust. If, when you think of “thought leadership”, the first thing you think of is your website, you’re not alone. Your website is the face of your company, and a platform on which many other digital marketing strategies depend. However, if you want to eventually become the one place your customers turn to when they need reliable advice or support to help them grow, your website is just the beginning.

A company’s website might be the first opportunity they have to make an impression on prospects and future clients. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the only information that helps them to form an opinion. Particularly in the professional service and technology industries, researchers are looking for outside validation of your firm’s value. They’re looking for unparalleled expertise, testimonials, and proof of credibility and knowledge. Positioning your firm above others in these ways requires moving beyond your website.

Here’s how:

1. Become active in LinkedIn Groups 

LInkedIn is arguably the most important social media tool available to professional service and technology marketers. Entire strategies are often built by b2b marketing agencies around this channel. A consistent presence is necessary, but make sure you don’t overdo it.

Assuming you already have a comprehensive LinkedIn profile that explains your business and that you regularly share content, your next step is to join groups to build more of a professional reputation on the platform. Simply use the search feature at the top of the home page or look at the suggestions from the “you might like” feature. When you join groups, remember that they aren’t places for you to be promotional, but rather a community where you can share quality content. Aim for engagement and interaction.

A good practice is to build a name for yourself by answering questions, beginning thoughtful dialogue, sharing great content, and engaging with other members. Only once you’ve done that should you begin to share your own content.

2. Leverage Facebook and Facebook Groups 

Facebook is a powerful platform with over 20 billion active users. It’s safe to assume that if people interested in your company don’t see a presence on Facebook, you’ll automatically lose some credibility. A large percentage of your target audience is on Facebook – therefore you need to be. Beyond simply maintaining an active and engaging Facebook page, look into Facebook Groups as a way to expand your digital footprint. A group is different than a page: a group is an online community of people who have the same interests. In a group, the conversation is controlled by the community (not a moderator or page owner). It’s likely there are already several groups in your industry on Facebook. Identify which ones are a fit for your sector and consider parameters like size and location. Ensure the group is public since a closed group prevents users from sharing content publicly.

Once you’ve narrowed down a few groups, join them and make the most of your time in them. If allowed (rules vary by group), introduce yourself and include a bit about your firm. This is a good opportunity to create a brand image and display your passion for the subject, without being self-promotional.

From there, view the groups regularly and take the time to help others. Providing advice should be your primary focus. Perform reviews of other services or tools that people in your industry would be interested in. Regularly share helpful content from your blog or other sources. To stay relevant, you can post interesting and timely content that your firm has created, or you can link to other content that industry professionals would find valuable.

Finally, you can create your own group separate from your business page. Spread the word about your company and invite friends and friends-of-friends to join. From this location, you can provide customer support, quickly answer questions, share special offers, and conduct market research (for example, asking people to complete a poll about their favorite accounting

software).

3. Extend Your Reach By Using Twitter & Instagram

In addition, explore other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Twitter is a great way to engage your audience and keep an active online presence without investing a lot of time or content. Instagram also provides a way to share links and snippets of content without having to write out longer-form updates. Twitter provides a helpful method of staying in touch with your clients and answering questions in real time. Any time you develop new content or add an important Facebook or LinkedIn update, make sure to post it on Twitter as well. Clients today expect to be able to get instant responses from business partners – being active on these platforms is one way they can access your experts quickly.

4. Explore Reddit and Quora

Reddit – the sixth most popular website in the U.S. – is a great social media platform for transparent and informative discussions amongst users. Reddit users inform each other of the latest news and developments in any and all industries on a daily basis. Starting a Reddit forum and increasing constructive discussion about your business could be extremely beneficial to you. Similarly, find groups that pertain to your area of expertise and offer your professional opinion where appropriate.

Lastly, strongly consider signing up for Quora, a question-and-answer based website where users can ask questions and receive answers from people who have experienced the same queries or who are experienced in the industry. In order to sign up, you have to use your real name. This helps experts in their field build a reputation both within their firm and outside of it. If you have subject matter experts who hope to become renowned within your sector, they should make an effort to seek relevant questions on Quora and provide their take, while adding their personal credentials and mentioning your firm in their profile.

Quality content is one of the most important components of professional services marketing. A robust website is a smart start, but to truly become the one person your clients turn to for advice, you need to prove your expertise across all the channels they use. For more advice on uncovering insider marketing secrets, grab your copy of the 6 Tips for Accelerating Your Growth today.