How to Use Social Media to Demonstrate Thought Leadership
by WordWrite Staff, on Jul. 24, 2014
Before we begin, I want to offer a disclaimer: This is not an article on how to be a “social media guru,” a “social media ninja,” or any other over-the-top title that some of us like to use to describe our profession or past time. This is about how to position your business head and shoulders above your competitors by using social media in a way that does more than establishing a voice and solidifying your brand. I’m talking about how to distribute noteworthy content on your company’s social pages that boosts your industry authority and reputation, as well as your ROI.
Curious? Let’s start with the basics:
1. Have a plan.
How many times have you looked up a specific company on Google, only to be disappointed by the fact that they have a bare-bones or even nonexistent web site or Facebook page? Personally, this is something that’s very frustrating for me. In this age, most people don’t want to have to pick up the phone to learn more about a product or service. How can a company boast expertise and authority in its industry when I can’t even find its hours of operation, let alone someone who could tweet me an answer to a quick question?
By now, most organizations understand that they should have a presence on social media, but it’s not enough to simply set up your company’s social accounts and cross your fingers. Facebook in particular is making it increasingly difficult to get likes, reach and engagement organically, so it’s even more important to have a spectacular social strategy when there isn’t a budget in place for social advertising and promoted posts. If you think that the amount of likes you have is just a popularity contest, then you’re missing the bigger picture. Engagement equates to a larger reach, and a larger reach equates to more prospective customers who are reading your content and learning why they should choose you over a competing business.
Bottom line: make a strategy and implement it. Don’t let it go to the wayside because of time constraints.
2. Produce quality content.
I can’t stress this enough. Without meaningful industry content, your business has no authority. Increasing visibility and tactfully distributing your content is only one piece of the puzzle when looking to become a thought leader in your industry. Before you can distribute content onto your social media pages, you have to have content that’s worth sharing. This doesn’t mean that all of your social posts must come from your own content. In fact, only 20 percent of the content you’re distributing should be your own promotional material. The other 80 percent of social posts should consist of either curated content or any other content that benefits your customers more than your company. Whether content is curated or your own, high quality content is THE most important quality of a thought leader.
Of course this sounds easy in theory, but how do we know when we’re producing the right kind of content that will set us apart from another company’s social presence? My colleague Christy will be able to answer this for you in tomorrow’s blog post.
3. Timing is everything.
Just because it’s convenient for you to post at a certain time doesn’t mean your audience will be online at the same time. Think about the demographics you’re targeting and when they are most likely to log in to their social media accounts.
If the optimum time to post is during a period when you’re not available, don’t be afraid to use a scheduling tool. Whether you want something free or are willing to spend a few dollars for it, there are many scheduling tools out there that will do the job just fine.
On the other side of the coin, don’t get too comfortable scheduling content, either. Being able to jump into a conversation about a trending topic or to quickly respond to a customer’s comment or complaint is vital. Displaying expertise in an immediate and conversational way boosts trust. Taking a long period of time to reply to someone or passing the buck off onto someone else (e.g. “Thanks for your question, Bob! Our customer service department will be able to address this for you,”) doesn’t exhibit competency or an appreciate of your customers’ time.
4. Analyze and revise your strategy.
After all of that, maybe you didn’t quite reach the goals you wanted to reach. So now what do you do? Give up and stop distributing your content on social media? No! Take a look at what worked and what didn’t. Success in social media is different for every kind of business; there is no definitive formula you can use. You may have to use trial and error many times before you get it right. Always keep your demographics in mind, and keep tweaking your strategy until you see results.
Of course, these are the first steps but there are many other details to consider. What other tactics help to build your brand’s authority on social media? I’d love to see some of your feedback in the comments.
If you’re interested in establishing or revising the digital strategies for your business, we’re always here to help with that, too.