7 Strategies for Using Social Media to Grow Thought Leadership

Does your organization have the reputation of being a true innovator in your field? Maybe there’s a person in your company who is a true subject matter expert, possibly one of your C-level executives, product/service specialists, or another key opinion leader.

In his forthcoming book entitled The Power of B2B Social Media, The Marketing Strategy You Can’t Afford to Ignore, Rosica Communications’ President Chris Rosica defines a thought leader as “an individual, brand, or company that has the reputation of being an authority in its field, one with specialized expertise; a trusted and highly sought-after resource with credible, trustworthy subject matter experts or key opinion leaders.”

When aiming to become a thought leader, it’s important to remember that thought leadership is not about being known, it’s about being known for something.

Here are seven strategies that will help grow your thought leadership… and your social media presence:

1. Pinpoint your positioning and messaging

In a CBS This Morning interview, New York Times best-selling author and educator, Simon Sinek said, “If you don’t know why you do what you do…then how will you get people to be loyal?” Identifying a groundbreaking new positioning that differs from what your competitors are focused on, should be at the core of your organizational and marketing strategies and matrixes.

After you define your positioning statement, it is important to develop audience-specific messages, and back them up with statistics and valid reasons to believe them. Conveying these beliefs to your sales, marketing, customer service, and other internal staff members is crucial so messages to stakeholders are consistent. Then, regularly disseminate these messages through social and other channels.

2. Generate earned media to bolster social

Earned media is the (non-paid) media coverage you receive through pitching stories to targeted reporters and media outlets. In the realm of thought leadership, opportunities like television interviews, bylined articles, and op-eds are excellent ways to share your organization’s beliefs and positioning. Since media outlets typically have large social followings through earned media, you gain the ability to reach a large audience of stakeholders across multiple social channels including YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. In addition, you can synopsize the media attention you receive and syndicate it on social channels to build credibility and engage followers.

3. Leverage social media to manage perception

Social media is a prime channel for reaching stakeholders. On these platforms, you can completely control the narrative. As mentioned, social media is great for sharing relevant articles, industry news, and trends, as well as the key messages developed during your positioning and messaging exercise. According to Business Insider, “since 2018 social platforms have seen explosive growth around innovative video formats like Stories,” so it’s important to leverage tools like this to manage perception, educate your stakeholders, and engage customers.

4. Strengthen your content marketing efforts on social channels

It is important to generate earned media through high-quality content posted on social channels. This includes thought leadership pieces like white papers, infographics, news releases, survey data and clinical studies, and other quality content. The content you create must be authentic and relatable, even more so on social channels — where transparency and authenticity rule. Of course, it must resonate with stakeholders you’re trying to reach. It’s important to remember it should not look like an advertisement, and instead, should be more organic.

Disseminating these attention-getting assets should be systematic. Customizing content for tradeshows, social, and email is a must to strengthen your overall marketing efforts.

5. Remember that people create thought leadership

People not only serve as the conduit by which you secure earned media coverage, but their expertise promotes trust and credibility. Key opinion leaders (KOLs) and subject matter experts (SMEs) should be developed from within organizations — rather than overreliance on outside sources.

While people have their individual LinkedIn profiles and Facebook pages, company profiles are vital in the social thought leadership and branding process. Leverage your network and that of your staff and partners to tell the story and position your organization as experts through social.

6. Repurpose and leverage earned media content on social

It’s important to know you need to repurpose and cater content to fit the needs of each social platform. While it’s great to share worthy news on all social channels, it’s important to tweak them to fit the needs of each. For example, you wouldn’t post a two-minute video made for YouTube on Instagram. Instagram videos typically should be about 15-30 seconds long.

Earned and original content can and should be syndicated and promoted. Practicing this can help bolster SEO, social media, direct marketing, online reputation management, and your conference marketing activities.

7. Connect with influencers on social channels

Engaging with influencers on social channels helps your organization gain followers in return. When you know the influencers you interact with, as well as like and share their posts, you garner their attention and begin the relationship-building process.

An effective way of building thought leadership on social media is to build relationships with and follow other thought leaders. This approach can help you build your following along with credibility, connectivity, online presence, and engagement.

To learn more about building thought leadership through social media, email PR@rosica.com.