You Too Can Become a Thought Leader on Social Media

thought leader

“Thought leader.”

Not only does the title sound nice, but it also means that, to a considerable number of people, you are a respected subject matter expert whose opinions concerning the industry where you belong are backed by deep wisdom and experience. It’s a moniker you earn by having both a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of your field and a willingness to share what you know with the rest of the community.

It’s a wonderful thing to be regarded as a thought leader. A thought leader commands a certain amount of respect, wielding the power to shape opinions, influence decisions, and compel his or her followers to act, ideally towards the greater good or a favorable outcome. Warren Buffett, Seth Godin, Mari Smith, and so many others like them are well-regarded in their respective fields, seen as the go-to experts for questions pertaining to their areas of expertise. (Here, you might want to check out this infographic I prepared — some of my favorite quotable quotes from thought leaders who are active on social media!)

Whether used for a non-profit advocacy or to boost a brand’s reputation, thought leadership is the key to establishing the reputation of a person or a brand as a credible influencer who puts a lot of thought into their messaging and rarely, if at all, says the wrong thing.

Basically, a thought leader possesses five characteristics:

  • A thought leader is a credible source of information.
  • A thought leader is a respected authority figure.
  • A thought leader has the power to challenge and even change opinions.
  • A thought leader fosters and nurtures relationships.
  • A thought leader attracts loyal followers (and thus generates leads).

A great deal of thought leadership involves talking. With the right messaging and sufficient skill in communicating, a person with valuable and sensible opinions to share can groom himself or herself to become a trusted thought leader. And of course, the easiest avenue to reach as many potential followers as possible is through social media.

There are a number of reasons why thought leadership and social media go as well together as chocolate and peanut butter. In addition to improving your brand visibility, making yourself known as an expert in the industry, and helping you make more business contacts, here are a handful of the best reasons for a person considering becoming a thought leader to put time and effort into his or her social media accounts as well.

1. Thought leadership increases one’s following even without much advertising.

Audiences and potential followers will flock to your social media page when they find out that you have important and sensible things to say. (Of course, a little humor helps, too!) It’s all about providing value to your target audience: laying down truths, sharing knowledge, and basically being a reliable source of information in a manner that keeps them entertained and engaged.

Being on social media helps you get found — even more so if you combine Search Engine Optimization techniques with your high-quality content (whether visual, original, or repurposed). I’m not saying, of course, that you should stuff your content with keywords; what I am advocating, though, is to continuously provide valuable insight on topics related to your field and posting your thoughts on the appropriate social media channels.

READ  Social Media Content: From Making to Managing

2. Thought leadership via social media brings convenience and facilitates engagement, ensuring a two-way conversation every time.

You’ll quickly find that it’s a lot easier to build a reputation as a thought leader on Twitter or other such platforms. As a matter of fact, all you really need to do to get started is to tweet your thoughts (with the right hashtag, of course!) or even just share an article on Facebook, along with your (short) take on the issue in question.

3. Being on social media helps you develop the traits necessary to become a better thought leader.

First and foremost, a thought leader needs to have a well-defined, genuine persona that truly represents what he or she is (and stands for). Secondly, a thought leader must know how to identify his or her true target market, and must also be familiar with the social media platforms they are most likely to be members of.

This helps in identifying common ground (for example, what the that segment of the social media world is typically interested in) which the thought leader can use as a starting ground upon which he or she can build a stronger connection with the audience.

Social media thus serves not just as a soapbox, but also as a training ground for the thought leader in further developing his or her persona and devising an appropriate strategy to truly capture the relevant sector of the market.

4. Social media presents multiple avenues for building thought leadership.

Your audience can be anywhere on social media, depending on what it is you have to say to them — social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or even YouTube. Your options for building your “street cred” are anything but limited, trust me.

5. Social media presents multiple avenues for building thought leadership.

Your audience can be anywhere on social media, depending on what it is you have to say to them — social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or even YouTube. Your options for building your “street cred” are anything but limited, trust me.

6. Social media allows you to leave a bigger impact on a wider audience.

Here’s an example: According to KPMG’s 2011 report on businesses and social media use, business adoption rates for social media have reached an average of about 70% worldwide. Furthermore, the research also supports the notion that social media plays a big part in helping consumers make informed decisions about what to buy.

By utilizing social media, you can share your thoughts with billions of users online — across all industries, fields, and walks of life — helping them make important choices with the knowledge you possess.

7. Social media allows you to keep track of important metrics.

With social media analytics tools at your disposal, you can accurately gauge your reach, level of engagement, and most popular posts; the data you get plays a critical role in how you can further improve your strategy.

After all, what better way is there to ensure that you’re on the right track than to set measurable objectives?