Making the right social media choices for effective thought leadership

By Henry Elliss, Senior Online Strategist, Good Relations

As our CEO Richard explains in his recent introduction to thought leadership post, there are many different types of thought leadership – and digital channels can be a key component to success in all of them. But for individual thought leaders, utilising social media can be an incredibly effective way to build and assert your points of view.

Whether you choose to focus on business platforms like LinkedIn and Yammer, or use more consumer-focused channels like Twitter and Facebook, knowing how best to utilise a social presence can be the differentiator that really sets you apart and grows your community of influence.

So how do you go about this? Here are some suggestions – though for a much more in-depth view, don’t hesitate to contact the team here at Good Relations.

Choose the right platforms

Thought leadership applies to many different industries and audiences, so picking the right platforms to reach your most valued audiences is a crucial first step. If your main audience is journalists and trend spotters for instance, Twitter may be your best channel – it’s a ‘Live’ platform where many journalists go to find out the news and canvas opinions. If your main audience is more industry-focused, you might like to use LinkedIn as your main platform. And of course, if your chosen field of expertise lends itself more to imagery or video, a platform like Instagram or YouTube will be a better place to get yourself heard or seen.

Be consistent

Whichever platform you choose, you need to ensure your followers get a consistent experience from your messaging – that’s why they chose to follow you, so give them what they want. It’s no good sharing views on the latest industry story in one tweet, then following it up with a tweet about whom you want to win X-Factor. Remain consistent and professional at all times, but don’t think you have to hide your personality or passions.

Share and curate with others

Whilst part of the point of thought leadership is obviously having an edge over your competition, this doesn’t mean you should treat your knowledge like a secret that only you should have. If you look at famous thought leaders like Seth Godin, they share their own insights and curate them from others to help inspire and educate their audience– so make sure you use your channels to lift up others, as well as maintaining your position.

Build your network

As well as following other thought leaders, ensure you follow, connect with and engage with people who can help to amplify your message, as well as other industry figures who will be interested in what you have to say. Don’t just “follow” either – engaging and debating with them on a regular basis not only keeps you front-of-mind, it also shows that you’re willing to be challenged and confident in your approach. Ensuring you reply (where relevant) to people who interact with you also helps to show you are accessible and approachable, and not aloof or arrogant.

Be timely and topical, sparingly

Platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn are great ways to keep up with current events and developing news – so they provide great opportunities to add your opinions and thoughts to relevant debates. If a breaking news story is relevant to your industry or expertise, don’t be afraid to share your take on it with followers – or debate the issue with others who are covering it. However, avoid the temptation to crowbar yourself into every single story or trending topic. Whilst you may well have a sibling that you want to praise on “National Sibling Day”, ask yourself what value you are adding by posting it.

Obviously, these are just some top-line thoughts to help you get started, and if you want to know more about the work we do with thought leaders and clients, please get in touch.