Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What is a #SocialMedia Thought Leader?

Originally posted on Socialnomics

Thanks to an internal competition at Likeable Media, where I work as a social media strategist, I have had the opportunity grow my personal brand and put my thought leadership skills to the test. As social media strategists, we hear the term thrown around all the time, but what exactly is a thought leader? Without a thorough understanding of what thought leadership is and how we can obtain it, how can we increase our online influence? If we can’t become thought leaders in the areas that interest us most, how can we expect to build effective social media strategies for our brands? Based on what I’ve learned over the past month, I believe that thought leadership means:

1. Sparking interest and conversation: Thought leadership means literally leading thoughts. Your content should entertain, excite, and generate curiosity among your audience.
2. Promoting active engagement: Social media is not about preaching or broadcasting. They’ll listen if you listen: take an interest in what your followers say and they’ll be sure to take an interest in you. Voice your opinions, but be receptive to theirs as well.
3. Utilizing available resources: As someone who works with many of Likeable’s small business accounts, I understand that you don’t need a ton of money or a big following to have an influence on the social web. Be creative and think of ways to utilize the programs, products, partners, supporters, customers, businesses, and friends that you already have or can easily access.
4. Thinking outside of the box: If your campaigns are the same as everyone else’s, users have no reason to participate. Brainstorming, participating in strategy sessions, and researching are great ways to help you create unique and effective marketing strategies.
5. Being willing to take risks: Social media evolves every day. A technique that works one day may not work the next. It is important for marketers to continue trying new things: you may fall short of your expectations once in a while, but your chances of stumbling upon something remarkable are that much greater.
For those of you who haven’t heard about the competition I referenced above, each Likeable employee was given a small budget to test out the Twitter advertising platform. The goal of our competition is to build our personal brand and gain the most new Twitter followers by May 15th. As a 22 year-old strategist only a year out of college, you may think that I don’t have the experience necessary to pull this off. Based on what I’ve learned about thought leadership, I have discovered otherwise. It’s all about working with the resources you have (thanks Socialnomics), providing value to your followers, thinking creatively, and engaging with social media users in unique and interesting ways.
If you agree with my definition of thought leadership, I’d appreciate if you support the cause by giving me a follow, proving that thought leadership is less about material values or professional experience and more about creativity, execution, and engagement. If you disagree, I want to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment or send me a tweet – What do YOU think a thought leader is?


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