This week I ran a workshop for CEOs on Thought Leadership and social media and I decided to share the key points here with you.
There is research that suggests that people trust companies more when the CEO is on social media and assuming they do it well, that makes a lot of sense in this age of transparency and accountability.
Of course as always we have to ask why the CEO wants to use social media; what outcomes do they want if they are to spend their valuable time tweeting?
One of the desired outcomes is to be recognised as an expert or a leader in their field, also known as a thought leader. But how do you do that?
First of all what is a thought leader?
I like this diagram by Denise Brosseau
Thought leaders are the go to people in their field of expertise, they are innovative and have an impact that inspires change.
Social media has created a space where, in theory, anyone can become a thought leader, but of course that presence does have to backed up with a proven track record of knowledge and experience.
So how can you use social media to establish yourself as a thought leader?
Social media provides us with the perfect set of tools to share our thinking, our findings and to engage others in the necessary debate. However it requires time and effort that many do not factor into their week.
- A consistent presence. A daily tweet is not enough AND you have to do it yourself. Giving it to your secretary just doesn’t cut it.
- A desire to spend time talking to others online. Thought leadership involves conversations, not announcements.
- A willingness to share original content and half formed theories and explore these publicly.
- An understanding of the need to show ourselves. This requires at the very least a photograph and a name, not a logo, so that we can see the human being.
- A willingness to show your colours and your value base knowing full well that that may bring you into conflict with others.
It is no secret that I oppose fracking and I whilst I would not claim to be a thought leader in this area at all, my recent tweets brought this response.
I’ve never been boycotted before and whilst I was surprised by this tweet it made me realise that I’m having an impact! If I was a timid soul trolls would upset me, but (sadly) it comes with the territory.
Being a thought leader requires boldness, broad shoulders and bravery. Being beige is not an option. That does cause discomfort for some organisations, whilst they do want to become thought leaders they don’t want to rock the boat for fear of losing contracts.
Your communications do of course need to fit with the overall ethos of the organisation you represent and this should be part of the full social media strategy – and not a maverick movement.
How do you know if it’s working?
Well you can check your Klout score of course, but there are other factors such as seeing increased engagement, retweets and shares, being asked to speak at events and having your comments quoted. And of course having people argue with you!
Over to you – What else would you add to this?
Jane Binnion is speaking on Being Bold for Change for International Women’s Day on March 10th