LinkedIn vs. Instagram: which platform is best for thought leadership content?

While you’re in the process of establishing thought leadership, you might start to wonder: which platform is best to publish and share thought leadership content?

With such a wide variety of digital platforms out there, trying to pick and choose where to dedicate most of your time and attention might feel like a burden. What if people miss out on what you have to say? What if you can’t reach the right audience? How can you keep people engaged in spite of the digital clutter?

Whew… take a breath. It doesn’t need to be complicated – you just need to look a little deeper!

We’re here to help you break down all things “thought leadership”, so you can understand each platform a little better, choose what feels most comfortable to you, and find the perfect place to start – or continue – sharing your thought leadership content.

Let’s dig in!

The power of thought leadership

Thought leaders today go way beyond offering advice to their audience: they’re a source of knowledge, information, guidance, and ideas.

This means that, as a thought leader, you’re ready to tackle difficult questions, understand the reality behind complicated situations, be well-informed of the different points of view, and guide your audience as they make more knowledgeable decisions and cement their point of view.

Now, here’s the thing: establishing thought leadership isn’t something that can happen from one day to the other. Being a thought leader means you have a deep understanding of a specific topic or industry AND you have formulated your own opinions about something, instead of simply repeating what everyone else is saying. Thought leadership, oftentimes, means exploring your stories, cultures, and identities and how that adds to your opinions and perspective.

It’s all about patience, perseverance, and of course, perspective.

Here are a few places to help you get started:

  • Find a mentor
  • Take your time to investigate and become fully knowledgeable about a certain topic – and don’t try to “do it all”
  • Network and connect with other thought leaders who have been doing this for a while
  • Listen to podcasts, read books, or watch conferences of thought leaders you admire
  • Reach out to other thought leaders for potential collaborations as you begin to grow your audience

When it comes to thought leadership, the most important thing is this: you’re in it for the long haul because you have a message to share.

Choosing the right platform for thought leadership content

Now, let’s get into the good stuff: where the hell do you start posting thought leadership content in order to connect with an audience, grow your impact, and just get your name out there?

Well, there are two major platforms (okay, maybe three…) that are currently battling it out: Instagram and LinkedIn. Oh, and TikTok…

Both platforms have a huge – and still-growing – audience that’s looking for pretty much everything a thought leader can provide: guidance, advice, information, discussions, and a feeling of security and assurance.

READ: 4 Ways Purpose-Driven Brands Can Share Their Impact On Social Media

But that doesn’t mean that you need to multiply your efforts and work twice as hard to show up everywhere and on all platforms. 

Thought leadership takes a bit of energy and vulnerability – there’s no need to add any more pressure to yourself than already exists.

So, which platform works best? Let’s take a look…

Thought leadership content on Instagram

While Instagram’s photo-sharing days might be over, there’s a new space for thought leaders to produce some really engaging and educational content: videos.

More specifically, Reels.

This video format has taken over Instagram – and it goes far beyond the repetitive meme, trend, or dance choreography that you see as you scroll through for hours on end.

(Hey! We’re guilty, too!)

Thought leadership content on Instagram has evolved to become more:

  • Punchy
  • Actionable
  • Easy to digest
  • Shareable
  • Original

This goes for a variety of industries and sectors – whether you’re trying to break into thought leadership in the political, cultural, or lifestyle sphere, just to name a few.

Infographics-turned-videos, data-packed Reels, greenscreen commentating… these are all great ways for thought leadership content to start making the rounds on Instagram and reach more willing eyes and ears.

A few tips for creating Instagram content are:

  • Always add closed captions or subtitles to your videos
  • Face-first videos perform better
  • Use trending sounds and lower the volume so it’s barely audible, and record yourself over it
  • Keep things personal and genuine, there’s no need to play a character
  • Don’t provide any misleading information

One thing we haven’t mentioned yet is that Instagram is a great platform for thought leadership content… but only if you feel comfortable in front of the camera. 

Yeah, there’s a catch…

Because of the platform’s newly-invested attention on video, it’s important that you’re aware of the fact that you’ll probably need to show up onscreen more than once. 

READ: 3 Ways to Use Marketing to Become a Cultural Ambassador

If you’re comfortable with that, great! If you’re not sure about being on camera… there’s always something else you can try.

Thought leadership content on LinkedIn

Unlike Instagram, LinkedIn is a lot more forgiving when it comes to “showing up on camera”.

It’s actually very rare to see someone create video-first content for LinkedIn, unless they really, really, really… really want to.

When it comes to creating thought leadership content on LinkedIn, written articles and posts are the go-to for most people on the platform.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be “boring” or “dull”!

Thought leadership content on LinkedIn is filled with personal stories that keep audiences engaged. They’re honest, and direct, and don’t need a lot of buzz (aka fancy transitions) to gain attention.

You really only need a good story. And, if we’re being honest: most stories are good if you know how to tell them.

When it comes to engaging with your audience, LinkedIn also has different ways that you can connect, interact, and even learn from them: polls, comments, and reactions. And, again, you don’t need a fancy video editing software to make those happen…

Our 4-step guide to creating great thought leadership content

Whichever platform you choose, thought leadership content isn’t something you can just throw together and then hope for the best.

It’s important to have a solid strategy in place that can help you plan, create, and share the content in a way that’s both beneficial to you – by helping your brand and business get its name out there – and your audience – by teaching them something new and guiding them through the process.

Here’s a four-step process we recommend for anyone out there who might be considering thought leadership content:

01. Define your area of expertise: While you might have a lot of interests and topics you want to focus on, we suggest choosing 1 or 2 and focusing your attention on those (at least in the beginning). Learn more about them, pull from your own experience, listen to other people’s points of view and their own understanding, etc. Focusing on a single area of expertise is a great way to build credibility instead of trying to master it all.

02. Define and understand your audience: Once you’ve settled on your area of expertise, it’s time to focus on who you’re going to be speaking to. What can you provide that this community of people is looking for or needs? How can you make their days – and lives – just a little bit easier with your knowledge? Find the answers and focus on creating thought leadership content aligned with them. And, when in doubt, just ask! Engage with your audience on the platform, ask questions to them directly, listen and take their advice…

PRO TIP: Most of the time, you’ll find that the more you dig into your stories, experiences, and identity – you’ll find that your audience shares in those values, experiences, etc.

03. Stay consistent with your content creation process: Thought leadership content isn’t a one-off deal! Create a posting schedule that works for your capacity, energy, and time. If you aren’t able to post every single day – can you post 1-2 times a week and engage with others in your industry the other days? Just a casual reminder that social media is a great tool to build community (and thought leadership) and that requires you to get social with your network!

04. Be unapologetically and ferociously you: When it comes to thought leadership content, people don’t want to see more of the same – they’re interested in you and what you have to offer – especially your own opinions on things. This means that you don’t need to be something you’re not, or create some unattainable version of yourself in order to reach the right people. The more your genuine desire to support and guide your community shows up, the more they’ll be looking for your expertise and guidance.

So, which platform is better for thought leadership content?

There’s really no way to determine which platform is better… sorry!

It really all depends on the type of thought leadership content that you feel comfortable creating and the technical skills you have that you can bring to the table. Also, not to mention, where most of your audience and network is – are they more Instagram followers or LinkedIn lurkers?

If you’re fascinated by the world of video and buzz-worthy content… you can give Instagram a try.

If you prefer to work more behind the scenes, at your own pace, and write… you can give LinkedIn a try.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that thought leadership content isn’t something that just happens: a lot of time, research, and dedication go into creating these pieces of content – no matter which platform you choose.

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