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Why today’s thought-leaders speak in 140 characters

First it was consumers, then B2C - but after years of reticence, the B2B sector is finally finding its feet in social media. According to the B2B Marketing’s first Social Media Benchmarking Report, 85 per cent of B2B firms now have a Twitter feed and 77 per cent have a company LinkedIn page.

What’s not so clear is what they're using social media for. Is it direct marketing? Customer relationship management? A new channel to push out existing content? While they're all great ways to use social media, these online platforms are also providing the arena for today’s thought leaders to build their profile.

Where to lead thinking

Twitter and LinkedIn are the most popular social networks for B2B brands and seen as the most useful platforms according to the B2B Marketing Report, with YouTube and Facebook following behind.

Twitter is a fast-paced digital metropolis of news, commentary, speculation and debate. It’s a busy place to be but, with the right approach, it can give big rewards for people standing on the pulpit of their industry. Businesses and professionals looking to make their mark on Twitter should be engaging, opinionated and relevant to the day’s news in their sector. Tweets should include links to relevant content and engage with industry stakeholders by mentioning them in your post, inviting debate and boosting your chances of your content being shared again via a retweet.

LinkedIn offers space for a more in-depth discourse. It has discussion threads that provide good opportunities to get into the crux of an issue with fellow industry professionals. You can also join groups relevant to your sector and increase your personal network. As with Twitter, having an opinion is essential.

For those happy in front of a camera, YouTube is a growing area for thought leaders sharing business insights, whether this is linked to a new report or industry event. While this can be a slick, professional video, a DIY approach can work well if you set up a shot carefully with your own camera or smartphone.

You may even be surprised to find businesses lending us their thoughts on Facebook, which has an ever-growing B2B presence. If you want to see a thriving B2B Facebook page, check out Oracle Business Analytics, featuring infographics, videos and special reports. It looks like Facebook, seen by many as a consumer brand playground, is fair game for the outspoken B2B industry leader.

Time to be social

Whether using traditional or digital media, good thought leadership takes both expertise and time. Successful thought leaders are getting involved in the online conversations, and driving them forward, on a regular basis. Spending a bit of time each day to monitor industry news and share an informed view is key. Unlike traditional thought-leadership opportunities like print media, online features or even blogs, social media requires daily attention and reactions to the day’s events in your industry, so investing a bit of time each day will pay off in the long-term.

Integrate your thoughts

It’s important to integrate your social media activity with other mediums. If you have written a blog, make sure you start a discussion about it on LinkedIn. If you have an article appearing in your sector magazine, tweet them about it. IF you’re speaking at or attending an event, let your followers know. Better yet, take an opportunity to make a quick video from the event and post it on YouTube.

Whatever industry you’re in, there is probably already a thriving social media community, or one waiting to happen. If you have a thought leadership strategy, its approach to digital media should take centre-stage. If you don’t have one yet, perhaps social media is the platform you’ve been waiting for?

Find out more at McCann PR.