Thought leaders: Whether you love them or hate them, they're becoming an integral part of social media. As marketers start to make room for thought leaders in their social media marketing strategies, we figured it was a good time to ask our #SMTLive community about them.
In our latest Twitter chat, we got a solid definition of what a thought leader really is, how brands and individuals can use thought leadership to their advantage on social, and talked about the difference between thought leaders and influencers. Let's dive in:
As we wait for people to show up, we’re going to kick off today’s chat with a quick poll.— Social Media Today (@socialmedia2day) March 10, 2020
Q1 - Have you ever bought-in on a product or service after reading (or consuming in any way) a piece of thought leadership by that brand? #SMTLive
Did these results surprise you? Almost half of our #SMTLive community today said they bought-in on a product because of a piece of thought leadership. That's good news for marketers who are debating adding thought leaders to their SMM strategy.
What exactly makes a thought leader? We asked, you answered.
A2 - Aligning the person or the brand with a topic or concept constantly through content (whether it's an interview, social posts, blogs, webinars, etc.) is key. #SMTLive— Robin Selvy Re (@RobinSelvyRe) March 10, 2020
Robin put it best: A thought leader aligns a person or brand with a concept through content.
A2: Authenticity is key! Be real and personable; avoid being too "salesy" if you're a brand. Interaction and timeliness of response is key, too. #SMTLive— Stepfanie McCaffrey (@stepfanie26) March 10, 2020
Just like in all other forms of social media marketing, it's important to stay authentic as a thought leader. This type of strategy can often sound salesy, so monitoring your tone here is key.
For me, part of this means understanding your industry/field and then creating valuable content which you consistently share with your audience. #SMTLive— Dana Da Silva (@TheDanaDaSilva) March 10, 2020
Thought leaders have EXPERIENCE!— WebEnertia (@WebEnertia) March 10, 2020
#SMTLive - Q2 Through value. Sharing information and perspectives with your followers they can find value in. To be a thought leader, you have to give people a reason to consider you as an authority— Andrew Cantine (@A_Cantine) March 10, 2020
These three tweets hit home: The best part about thought leaders is that they have ultimate expertise!
Q3 - When done right, thought leadership content can be some of the most impactful content for your business. What are the keys to making high-quality thought leadership content? #SMTLive pic.twitter.com/Wm2QEeO0qJ— Social Media Today (@socialmedia2day) March 10, 2020x
After getting some amazing feedback about what a thought leader really is, our #SMTLive community shared some tips and tricks for creating the very best high-quality thought leadership content.
Framing is important, bigly. Tell your own story, or someone else will tell it for you. #SMTLive— Andrew Cantine (@A_Cantine) March 10, 2020
According to @A_Cantine, The best thought leaders are great story-tellers.
A3 - Access to experts + knowledge & awareness of trends & opinions in content area + good art + knowing when to use humor + knowing when your users are active #SMTLive— Andrew Cantine (@A_Cantine) March 10, 2020
Additionally, thought leaders serve their purpose when they're connected and informed.
Now that we've established that thought leadership has a lot of value, we wanted to see how #SMTLive participants measure that value.
Quality over quantity always!— Stepfanie McCaffrey (@stepfanie26) March 10, 2020
Engagement metrics came up a LOT here.
Engagement: does it spark true conversations with your audience (more than just emojis or "love this!" comments); do they become ambassadors for your brand (not in the influencer sense) #SMTLive— Stepfanie McCaffrey (@stepfanie26) March 10, 2020
High-quality engagement, to be specific.
A4 - Formal metrics = engagement, new followers. As an informal metric, I also notice when our followers share similar content AFTER we have posted. This shows me it IS resonating. ???????????? #SMTLive— ori (@Valentine_ish) March 10, 2020
Engagement and if you're meeting the goals you set!— WebEnertia (@WebEnertia) March 10, 2020
Point taken: Engagement metrics are key when it comes to measuring how your thought leadership content is performing.
We loved this question. While influencers and thought leaders might seem similar, they're actually completely different animals.
Influencer = measured in follower numbers— Social Media Today (@socialmedia2day) March 10, 2020
Thought leader = measured in expertise and industry knowledge #SMTLive
First and foremost, most people measure their performance completely differently.
Yes yes!— Social Media Today (@socialmedia2day) March 10, 2020
A5: a thought leader is at the front of the pack. They authentically provide knowledge on the brand/product and people look to them as an expert in that area. There is a truer sense of authenticity. #SMTLive— Stepfanie McCaffrey (@stepfanie26) March 10, 2020
So true: The levels of authenticity seem completely different here.
Thought leader - an industry veteran; who has the expertise and know how of a particular sector. We know the views they share are authentic and unbiased— Nayantara Som (@nayantarasom) March 10, 2020
Influencer - more about numbers ; most of them paid adverts. #SMTLive
@nayantarasom pointed out that thought leaders often demonstrate a wealth of expertise in their content that influencers don't.
A5. Thought leaders are willing to share unpopular opinions, and have the substance to back them up. Leadership = willingness to stick your neck out. Influencers follow thought leaders, not vice versa. #SMTLive— Andrew Cantine (@A_Cantine) March 10, 2020
And @A_Cantine noted that thought leaders are called leaders for a reason.
Thanks so much for recapping this week's #SMTLive Twitter chat with us - we hope you learned a little more about all things thought leadership than you knew before.
If you're cooped up at home like a lot of us are right now, we hope you'll take the opportunity to find some community in our next Twitter chat. We're looking at ways to increase our Twitter chat frequency in order to help people in the SMT community stay connected, and maintain social connection during the crisis.
We'll have more information on this shortly.