We live in a digital age with constant updating of endless social media channels. Increasingly, companies find themselves under pressure to become thought leaders in order to stand out among the noise. Thought leaders help lead discussions, form opinions, and are regarded as trusted sources. However, reaching this status takes hard work and credibility. How consumers, clients, and social media followers perceive an organization depends on certain criteria. Unfortunately, updating Twitter every few days with reshared articles and the occasional company-related post won’t always cut it.
Thought leaders do not need to know something about everything, but they should know everything about something.
In other words, establish yourself as an expert in your specific field. If you’re an engineer, great – tell us something unknown about chemical engineering. Your contacts should think of you as a trusted source for topics in a related area of expertise. This requires research, knowledge, and innovation. Tweeting the top five trends in engineering, for example, might get overlooked if these common trends are already well known. However, cultivating a thoughtful post about what your company foresees as the next big thing, and how it might change the industry will command attention and interaction.
It’s important to be thought-provoking. Leading discussions will get the conversations flowing, not just about the industry, but about your company specifically.
Establishing thought leadership takes time, effort, and patience. Sending out a thoughtful tweet every other week won’t make a difference, considering 500 million tweets are created per day on average. A few tips:
- It’s important to stand out with something original
- Rely on your strengths
- Think about the information you know, and tell the world why it’s important
- Create a story
- Establish consistency so followers know what kind of knowledge they can expect to learn from you
- Because becoming a thought leader is a process, consider creating a week-by-week content strategy
- Outline which topics you want to cover, how you want to be perceived, and your overall goals as a thought leader
- Avoid promoting products and services when forming yourself as a thought leader
- Salesy lingo and self-promotion can break the trust you’ve worked hard to establish – if consumers trust what you have to say, brand loyalty will follow naturally
Becoming a thought leader means becoming a name associated with innovation and creativity – you want followers to value your opinion and admire your innovation. This is good for business, as it differentiates you from the competition. Next time you send out a post, remember thought leadership is more than “just tweeting.” Ensure that what you have to say matters, and soon, consumers will decide that it matters too.